This Week in Upper School

The Baseball of Jewish Traditions  

By Dara Braunstein, AEC Grade 7 Student


DaraWhen someone has a Bar or Bat Mitzvah he or she is basically passing the torch of tradition. It’s like throwing a ball. It always gets passed to someone else no matter how long it takes. Think about it like a game of catch: eventually, someone will drop the ball or stop playing, but eventually the ball is picked up again. It is not always passed on, but when it is, it can be passed on for a long time. One of the many people who have already thrown the ball to someone else is Moses. Moses taught us a lot about G-d and showed us how real he truly is. Moses made sure that from that point on Jewish tradition would always be passed on. Even during super hard times like the Holocaust, we never failed to pass the torch down, to throw the ball, and to make sure the next generation caught it. 


The Bar or Bat Mitzvah truly makes us throw the ball because we have fulfilled our childhood’s journey and begin our journey as an adult—the only thing we can do now is hope someone catches the ball. Sometimes we can’t even see the next person catch the ball. Either the person never bothered to get it or he/she was just too far away, so we have to wait and see what happened to the ball.


Sometimes we have a choice with the ball. What if the ball is covered in stickers to represent different family traditions? Should we take off some stickers or add some? When we have the ball, we get to choose how those traditions are passed on. We always have a choice on what to do, but the best thing to do is leave the stickers alone and pass the ball along for another person. What if the next person does something with the stickers or doesn’t even bother to pass it along? That is their choice not ours.


Many other people have thrown the ball along—Aaron, Deborah, David, Miriam, Ruth, Rabbi Akiba, Beruiah, Maimonides, and Henrietta Szold—but there are many more people out there in the world who have already passed the ball.


Never forget that there are thousands of people who are also playing the game even if you can’t see them, even if they are already gone. They are still next to you in other ways, still ready to catch the ball. Never let those people down and especially not the mentor who taught you everything about it in the first place. This is only the thoughts of the midrash (Kohelet Rabbah 12:10), but we can come up with our own ideas on how exactly it’s passed on. 


A torch being passed on, a ball being thrown, stickers that can represent religion, all represent ideas with merit. If you haven’t had a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, this is something that can be taught. You can even recreate the story in a new way to pass it on in words. Jewish tradition is not one way:  there are many different traditions. 


You might watch a movie on Shabbat for the day of rest, and that would be tradition. It is different for every family. Pass tradition on your way and it doesn’t have to be the way it was taught to you. Choose your own path:  add stickers, take off stickers, but when you throw the ball, make sure that everything you want on the ball is there. Watch the ball as someone catches it or at least watch it until you can no longer see it.


If you throw the ball you should be able to wait long enough to know that the ball has been passed on. People have waited for the ball to be passed on to you, now you should wait for the ball to be passed onto someone else. Let them watch the ball be passed on from generation to generation. Sometimes people will make mistakes while passing the ball, perhaps by taking off a super old super important tradition, but you must let that happen and let the other traditions go. Let people make mistakes so that they can learn. We should trust the ball; it has traveled all over the world. It knows best what should happen and the ball does not say no when someone takes off an old tradition or adds a new one. We have to wait and watch what happens, so that we can especially learn from our mistakes.    

Celebrate Reading Week with Passages

By Jen Nails, AEC Librarian



Passages is a live performance in celebration of Nevada Reading Week, 2021. The theme for NVRW this year is, “Change Your World: READ!” Upper School students are invited to choose a 2-3 minute passage from one of their favorite works -- literature, famous speeches, poems, essays or any written word (students can also write their own piece). Students will read these passages -- no need to memorize them! -- as part of a live performance, while Mr. Philippus’s band students accompany the readers with improvisational jazz. Interested students should fill out this google form by February 18. Performance will be held the week of March 1-5 in the auditorium, following all COVID protocols. See you, and hear you, there!

Middle School StuCo Plans for Spring


As we head into spring, our AEC Middle School Student Council is getting down to business by planning fun activities for the second semester! Student leaders comprising this year’s MS StuCo are Owen, Cru, Madison, Noya, Kristal, Elliot, Yael, and Jonah. Led by advisor Ashley McKannon, the council just held their first meeting to brainstorm fun team building and bonding activities. Notes Ms. McKannon, “Current thoughts from the council are a Purim spirit week with costume contest featuring various categories… and in March, before Passover break, a ‘coffee house’ style talent show during the school day.” We look forward to seeing our sixth, seventh, and eighth graders enjoy these exciting and energizing events in the coming months!

International Holocaust Remembrance Day


International Holocaust Remembrance Day
This week, the Upper School community engaged in a solemn observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. We began the day with our Shinshinim, Raz and Shai, recognizing the importance of the date and providing historical context during morning announcements. Students and faculty then viewed two video dialogues, one in which Social Studies team members Kathryn Shetty and Dr. Tierre Sanford Griggs discuss the significance of Remembrance Day, elaborating on the international stories documented by Jewish families around the world; and another in which AEC Upper School junior, Jonah Tecktiel, interviews a third-generation Roma survivor about her ancestors’ lived and recounted experiences. Many thanks to our entire Jewish Studies and Social Studies teams who planned this important day of remembrance, reflection, and introspection.
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