My opportunities to say She’hekey’anu have recently grown exponentially. We get to say this special prayer when we do something for the very first time, or something we haven’t done in quite a long time. I am experiencing a lot of firsts this year. This first week of school was filled with first successes. Firsts are great! They are exciting and full of promise and I look forward to the many firsts that will be a significant part of my 2016-2017 school year.
Yet personally, this is also a year of lasts for me. My last child has just entered his last year at HDS. On Monday, when I was experiencing my first day of school as Head of School, he was experiencing his last first day of school at HDS. One or more of my boys has been a student at HDS since 2006, and at the ECC since 2000. Lasts are exciting too. He is excited to finally be a fifth grader and participate in all of the special things our oldest students get to do. He has been waiting; it is finally his turn. For me, it is bittersweet. My baby is growing up. Here, he is now the big kid (a space he NEVER occupies at home). Here in a place I deeply love, and at a time so very meaningful to me. Here and now. This moment.
So as I reflect on firsts and lasts, I am struck by the passage of time and my strong need to notice it, to mark it and to appreciate it. In his book The Sabbath, Abraham Joshua Heschel says, “Judaism is a religion of time aiming at the sanctification of time….Every hour is unique and the only one given at the moment, exclusive and endlessly precious. Judaism teaches us to be attached to the holiness in time, to be attached to sacred events, to learn how to consecrate sanctuaries that emerge for the magnificent stream of the year.”
There is something incredibly beautiful, even holy or sacred, about the timing of my firsts and Levi’s lasts. It IS “endlessly precious” and I look forward to what promises to be “the magnificent stream of the year.” Whether this year marks a first or a last, or something in between, I wish you the clarity to appreciate it and to mark it. Make it holy.