Letter from the Principal, Daniella Pressner

Dear Parents,
This week’s Torah portion, Lech Lecha, is one of the most famous. God asks Abraham to go on a journey. Destination… unknown. At Akiva, the children often wonder about this unusual request from God. Was Abraham’s family a part of this choice? What was Abraham thinking? Did he have a say in the ultimate destination?  In our planned and well-thought out lives, how many journeys do we consider where the destination is unknown?
 I think we should try for more.
When we embark on known journeys, we are stifled by our knowledge (by research or experience) and our expectations. When we embark on unknown journeys, there is this mysterious UNKNOWN that drives curiosity, faith, and wonder.
This week, Akiva, alongside the religious schools in town, hosted the film Fanny’s Journey, at the Belcourt. The film is the story of a courageous group of children who flee Nazi Germany and their path to freedom in Switzerland. The film was unusual in that it showed the experience from the children’s eyes. These children had no idea where they were going or how they were going to get there and together, they succeeded. Their perseverance and their courage and their will/faith that somehow, somewhere, there would be a better life for them pulled them through the most terrifying and challenging moments.
Post the film-viewing, we hosted a panel of 4 teens. Two of the panelists were Akiva graduates: Naomi Horn ‘12  and Shoshana Kelner ‘13. Naomi and Shoshana impressed the audience with their ability to connect to the film in a raw and real way. Their willingness to be vulnerable and honest about the film and their reflections on our world brought hope and greater ease to those in the audience.
As families, we have a responsibility to teach our children to lead and to live. They have to believe that though they are unsure about what lies ahead, they have the courage and tenacity to propel forward.
This week, Ben Poster ‘19 embarked on a different unknown journey, where he was chosen as 1 of 211 children, out of 7,000 to train for one week in Barcelona, Spain with some of the top young soccer athletes in the world. These children were chosen for their skill and their attitude. An experience of a lifetime. Destination unknown.  Displacement was an imperative for Ben to have this experience.
As we reflect on one of the founding members of our tradition, Abraham, may these next few months give us the curiosity and courage to jump into new journeys. Though the destination may be unknown, the lessons and experiences en route are certainly enriching and rewarding. So the next time my child asks, “can we go for a bike ride,” I commit to you that my answer will be “yes,” despite or perhaps because these journeys infuse our lives with meaning and relevance, even more than 4 loads of laundry and our important meetings.
Journey “planned.” Destination unknown.