September 12, 2012
25 Elul 5772
Dear Members of the Rockland Jewish Academy Community:
As part of a d’var Torah, a teacher shared an elementary school biology lesson with her colleagues. On one level, it was a description of some of the flying habits of geese but what at first appeared to be a science lesson turned into an owner’s manual for kehilla, for community.
Here’s the lesson:
Geese, flying in a V-formation have always been a welcome sign of the coming of the autumn and winter months. Not only is the very sight of these great birds, in their geometric formation a thing of beauty, but a careful observation of their instinctual behavior can, by inference, provide pertinent insights to us, as human beings, on the importance and nature of kehilla, community.
1. As each goose flaps its wings, it creates uplift for others behind it. There is 71% more flying range in V-formation than in flying alone.
Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of purpose can get there more quickly.
2. Whenever a goose flies out of formation, it feels drag and tries to get back into position.
Lesson: It’s harder to do something alone than together.
3. When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into formation and another goose flies at the head.
Lesson: Shared responsibility and mutuality give us each a chance to lead as well as an opportunity to rest.
4. The geese flying in the rear of the formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
Lesson: Encouragement is motivating; and we always need to make sure “honking” is encouraging, and not discouraging.
5. When a goose gets sick or wounded and falls, two geese fall out and stay with it until it revives or dies. Then they catch up or join another flock.
Lesson: We may all need help from time to time. We should stand by our friends in difficult times.
A new school year has begun. A new school has opened its doors to embrace its teachers, parents, and students. A new community has been established. The Rockland Jewish Academy is now busy with normal school activity and voices filled with Torah can be heard from behind each classroom door; the quiet and noise of learning is everywhere. But supporting this new community is our RJA kehilla, with its reassuring interdependence and its pervasive thoughtfulness and compassion. We will each sustain our community and it, in turn, will nourish us all, enveloping us in its warmth and caring.
A new Year is upon us and I take this opportunity to wish each member of this new RJA community, students and teachers, parents and grandparents and lay leaders, a year of goodness, sweetness and health for us, for all Israel and for a world in need of peace.
Shanah tova Umetukah; to a good, sweet and successful New Year.
Dr. Elliot Spiegel
Rockland Jewish Academy