On Thursday morning, excitement rippled throughout the building as we gathered to honor the very important value of being a mensch. “You’re a mensch! You’re a mensch! You’re a mensch!” exclaimed Head of School Jen Rosenberg, as she addressed both students and staff at our first ever Mensch Day, also known as Character Day. Just like people in all fifty states and 121 countries, we came together for this international event to focus on strengthening our character muscles to help make ourselves and our world even better. We opened with a video, which presented, in a playful and inspiring way, some thoughts on being a mensch. [We watched an abbreviated version of the video but you can find the full version here.]

Next, Judaic Studies teacher Lisa Bernstein, the primary organizer of our event, continued our monthly focus on the midot (character traits, values), which the third and fourth graders had introduced at our last Rosh Chodesh assembly. (Elul’s midah was the aptly chosen midah of teshuva.  In the words of a fourth grader, “Teshuva is trying to fix what you’ve messed up.”) On Mensch Day, students partnered in mixed-grade pairs, with six colorful strips of paper in hand, collaborated and discussed the merits of each of the nine midot that have been selected this year for our study.  They then distributed the strips on the posters adorning the room, according to which midot they felt were most important. Not so surprisingly, by the end of this activity, each poster was equally aflame with color, and it was clear that the children considered all of the midot important.

In case you missed our Mensch Day, don’t worry.  Walk into our school any day. Start with the big smiles and cheerful high fives you receive as you enter the building. Watch our children write get well cards, introduce themselves to seniors, welcome new students, and reach out to help.  Follow them as they earnestly fulfill their classroom responsibilities.  You’ll see door holders, blessings leaders, and in some classrooms, a critter control person to rescue assorted creatures, a classroom problem solver, and even a jester to cheer people up. At recess, notice a ganster patiently explain the techniques of tetherball to another ganster on how best not to end up with the ball in his face. Teachers, administrators, staff, and parents are sharing ideas, working as a team. There are volunteers in every classroom.  People care about one another.  And so, as we celebrate Mensch Day, we realize that, as our strips clearly illustrate, we value all of the midot.  Every day is Mensch Day at HDS, and everyone wins!