It has been an unbelievable week at MHA! Students returned to school to meet their new teachers. Students in the Lower School were welcomed into redesigned classrooms that are set up to maximize the student learning experience. We had a special Middle School program on the first day to “break the ice” and to help initiate students into their new routines and we introduced our new D’var Torah Workshop in the Middle School. We had special programs in the CYHSB and GMSG to welcome the students back to school.
One of the most exciting aspects of the week has been the opening of our new gymnasium and kitchen. Besides the obvious aesthetic improvements, the renovation has transformed these spaces – the gym and the kitchen – into far more functional and safe places for our children. It is reassuring to know that the food is being prepared in a kitchen free of leaks and broken hardware and with proper refrigeration and storage space. I am so pleased that our students will have a far better floor surface on which to exercise and play organized sports and will be able to use clean and renovated bathrooms. Most importantly, this renovation has inspired a deeper sense of school pride in our students and families. I am so grateful to Josh Kahane and Lee Baum for their tireless work this summer to complete this project and to the Cooper and Wruble families for their generous support for this critical endeavor.
On the first day of school, I shared with the Middle School that the day inspired me to remember an explanation of the verse from Sefer Tehilim: ze hayom asah Hashem nagila venismecha vo – this is the day that Hashem made, rejoice and be happy on it. Certainly, this verse is an apt description of our feelings on a day of inauguration – such as our feelings on this day of inaugurating the gymnasium and kitchen and on the first day of school. However, there is an alternate and equally correct translation of the verse. The word “vo” could relate not to the object of the sentence – the day – but instead to the subject of the sentence – Hashem. This is the day that Hashem made, rejoice and be happy in Him. Rejoice and be happy in Hashem.
I shared with the students that there is a difference between rejoicing and being happy on a special day – a day that Hashem made – and rejoicing and being happy “in Hashem”. Both are appropriate. Happiness on a special day that Hashem made represents the attitude of a person who realizes that what he or she has comes from Hashem. This attitude of gratitude is an essential quality of human perfection. What, then, does it mean to be happy in Hashem? I suggested to the students that the meaning of begin happy “in Hashem” is the happiness that comes from the realization that there is a purpose for the thing that we are celebrating. The happiness comes from the knowledge that the special day serves a greater purpose that will help my personal perfection and ultimately my relationship with Hashem.
I shared with the students that this second understanding of the verse is particularly meaningful on the first day of school with a renovated gymnasium at Margolin Hebrew Academy-Feinstone Yeshiva of the South. The purpose of our school is to serve as a place where we can all grow and develop. These spaces – the gymnasium and kitchen – are invaluable in enhancing the experience of each student and staff member. Physical activity, drama, music and communal assemblies all help to engage the students in ways that help each of us grow to our potential. Eating nutritious food helps put our students and staff in a position to grow – physically and spiritually. On this day of inauguration, we are happy because we know that we will be better positioned to achieve our purpose at MHA – to grow and develop.
This first day of school is a very happy day for us. We are happy and appreciative to Hashem for the experience that we are having and we are happy in the recognition that the object of our happiness will serve a purpose in our growth and development. I welcome you to visit the school and share in our happiness.