In their Hebrew classes, our students learn that much of the language is built on three-letter ‘roots’, or ‘shorashim’. These roots are then modified for application throughout the language – in some forms as nouns, others as verbs, adverbs and so on. Indeed, the variations of the use of these roots often tell us a great deal about the language and the tradition within which it operates.
Take, for example, the ‘shoresh’ of het-nun-chuf,. It is somewhat unusual in that this root has two well-established meanings – one for education - ‘beit tichon’ is a high school; ‘machaneh’ is the term used for a summer camp; a ‘chancihah’ is a pupil. And another meaning for ‘dedication’, as in the story of Chanukah.
Chanukah is the holiday that celebrates the rededication of the Temple in ancient times. How a committed small group of Jews, through their faith, commitment and perseverance - and through a miracle - were able to take that which was desecrated and return it to holiness.
We discover that it is through the interplay of these two meanings something quite remarkable –that in our tradition, learning itself is an act of dedication. This means that when we invest in the learning and well being of children, we are in fact, rededicating ourselves and renewing our commitment to see our world raised up. Indeed, the Shabbat liturgy cites a passage in the Talmud ‘Al tikrei ‘bah-ni-yikh – don’t read the words (as they literally mean) ‘your children’; rather read them as ‘boh-ni-yikh’, as your ‘builders.’
When we ask children to learn Hebrew, we are giving them a gift of learning and understanding that transcends the boundaries of most programs of study. By providing this foundation upon which the moral pillars of Western civilization have been built, they are given the keys to unlocking insights that the study of other classical languages (such as Latin) or contemporary, practical languages (such as Spanish and Mandarin) simply cannot promise. To provide students with the tools to grasp fundamental spiritual and moral lessons is a gift that lasts a lifetime. It is literally a keystone of how our children become our builders of a better world.
How fitting, then, that we honor the founders and the dream of the Adelson Educational Campus this Sunday evening, the fourth night of Hanukkah – to recognize that through their vision and dedication, they have built a remarkable school that, in turn educates and cultivates the future builders of our communities. Truly, this dedication to education reminds us of the deeper truth of what makes a difference in our world.
I hope you will join us this Sunday evening for a wonderful celebration of the school, its founder and its community. For more information, click here.