More than two months into the school year, despite the ongoing hardship wrought to many families by punishingly high tuition fees, it is important to acknowledge that, by and large, children in all the grades of all the schools across the spectrum in the community are receiving excellent education. Though the results are not always evident for each student, it is not an exaggeration to write that the schools care for and are determined to deliver the best educational experience possible to all their students.
With this in mind, we commend a highly inspiring, moving essay by Zipora Schorr entitled “MiTalmidai yoter miKulam: Reflections on Jewish Education” that appeared on the site of Jewish Ideas and Ideals.
Mrs. Schorr took her title from the phrase in Pirkei Avot, “MiKol melamdai hiskalti,” “I have learned from everyone who taught me”, (namely, from a great many sources and individuals). She uses the phrase as a jumping off point to make the point that she has learned from her students more than from anyone else. She has been the Director of Education of Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School in Baltimore, Maryland for more than three decades and thus is very experienced as an educator.
She introduces herself with the astounding information that she is one of eight siblings – all of whom work in the field of education. She believes she is able to speak, in a certain sense, in their name too. And the way she speaks of her work, of their work and of her students is electric.
“We eight [she and her siblings]… feel we lead lives of deep meaning, and we do so with a sense of joy and passion. Because at the heart of what we do is exactly that: heart. In short, we love what we do because we love why we do it: We love our students, and through them, we touch the future.
“Although this may read like a cliché, we would each assure you that we mean it, and you have only to ask our students and they would confirm it. They know, without a doubt, that we care deeply about them, and we help them to care deeply about themselves—no easy feat in the complex and troubling world in which they find themselves.”
The essay is a heartfelt embrace of teaching, of Jewish schools and of an unsurpassing love for her students. “…our purpose, our goal, our reason for being, the cause to which we are dedicated: the heart and soul of our holy charges.”