Looking for glimmers of light

December 7, 2023 / 5 mins read
Looking for glimmers of light

We are heading towards Hanukkah experiencing a particularly strong discord between the “light” that characterizes the holiday and the darkness of recent events.

The effects of what happened on October 7, and the subsequent Israel-Hamas war, have been significant. They have rippled across the globe, and have even impacted our school. We’ve had to attend to the emotional and psychological burden on students and staff, as well as consider our educational approach to the situation and how we can enhance our relationship with Israel. We’ve also had to reckon with how to keep our community safe, most recently dealing with a bomb threat that led students, teachers and staff to evacuate our building.

These are dark days, indeed. We are truly alarmed by the rise in Antisemitism around the world and here in the GTA, and are aware that similar threats and expressions of hatred have also been directed at other minorities. As a school community, we deplore all acts of hate and indiscriminate violence. We are unstinting in our efforts to promote understanding, mutual respect and empathy, and to educate our students to think critically, lead peaceful lives and speak out against injustice.

In these unprecedented times, we are all looking for glimmers of light and reasons for optimism. At school, we have been comforted by the generous outreach of many allies, and connections with other faith-based communities in the GTA. Seeking solidarity in being together, it was empowering to attend the two recent rallies. Our school sent a contingent of more than 150 to Washington D.C. and, earlier this week, close to 700 students and staff traveled to Ottawa. We’ve seen the release of some of the hostages. We pray it is not too long before all are freed, and a calmer and more peaceful existence returns to the entire region.

As we stand with Israel and the hostages, and pit ourselves against Antisemitism and hate, our educational imperative – rooted in Jewish learning and values – is clear. We continue to nurture courage, resilience and a sense of agency in our students so they have the skills to stand up for what’s right, wherever and whenever they see a need.

It is perhaps they, the next generation, who bring the greatest hope for a brighter future.

Wishing you and your families Chag Hanukkah Sameach.