You know the movie “To Sir With Love?” Yes, I am dating myself! ; ) The movie (and song) which debuted in 1967 features Sidney Poitier as a teacher in a violent inner-city London school and shows how he inspired and ultimately changed the lives of his problem-ridden teen students. Lulu sings the iconic song, “To Sir With Love” which has inspired 1000’s with its evocative nostalgia. (*lyrics at page bottom)
Gratitude, appreciation, inspiration, nostalgia …
“To Sir With Love” evokes these emotions. When I think of how to express my experiences in Eretz Yisrael, this song keeps popping into my mind.
Thank G-d, I do plan to return to Jerusalem as opposed to Lulu who tearfully sings goodbye to her beloved teacher.
Here are some of the gems that Eretz Israel has gifted…
MY PURPOSE IN LEARNING TORAH IS TO CONNECT, NOT TO GAIN KNOWLEDGE
When studying Torah, it’s tempting to tally up how much knowledge I’ve gained. But when I am focused on myself and how much I am learning, I miss the real prize… It may go like
a. Oh I understand that!
b. Check! Now I know that too!
c. Got it!
d. Am I an expert yet? (haha)
I try to remember that the purpose of learning Torah is not to acquire knowledge. It is to connect with Hashem. It’s humbling and challenging to let go of the reins and to grasp that Hashem is ungraspable... but it makes all the difference. Suddenly there is room… a space… for G-d! Just by opening to this possibility, the mystery door seems to crack open a bit. It’s wonderful for everyday life too… Do I want to acquire more things, more friends, more success, etc? Or do I want to connect with Hashem, people, and the world in meaningful ways? The great surprise is that success and joy seem to come easier when my focus is Hashem.
A FUNDAMENTAL OUTCOME OF CONNECTING WITH HASHEM IS TREATING PEOPLE BETTER
Of course more iconic than the song “To Sir With Love” is the verse from the Torah (Leviticus 19:18): You shall love your fellow as yourself. This is easier said than done when feelings of frustration, impatience, anxiety or the like arise. The crazy thing is when I try to be a decent person on my own resources, I get up, fall down, get up, fall down, ad infinitum! But when I focus on connection with and pleasing Hashem, this desirable behavior seems to flow naturally… I see others and (thank G-d) myself become more patient, empathetic, happier, and yes stronger. My Rabbis, their families and the Mayanot program have brought this to life. They spread love and truth like a wellspring and thank G-d they reached me.
BOUNDARIES ARE AS IMPORTANT AS KINDNESS
I understand how important it is to give and be kind. Yet, also essential is not to give up or compromise who we are. At all. As much as I love others, I do not deny, apologize for or minimize my Judaism, observances or love of Hashem.
To find precious stones, people to have dig deep. In 2020, the mining industry grossed over 412 billion dollars.
Discovering the beauty and essence of Judaism has been, no kidding, worth immeasurably more.
Enough gems for now. A little humor and joy are always good to add to the mix. Hmmmm? ….. Got it!
Bring on Passover. 💃🏻💃🏻… Love, Vivi ©
Mayanot Institute For Jewish Studies: From their vision statement – “Creating a Jewishly educated Leadership. The name ‘Mayanot’ was chosen, based on the verse, “Let thy wellsprings (Mayanot) be dispersed abroad.” (Proverbs 5:16), and captures the essence of our vision – that our students are gaining a deep and enduring knowledge of their Jewish heritage, including the spiritual dimensions, and utilizing what they have learned at Mayanot to enrich their environment and communities back home.”
Personal Words of Thanks (Vivi): “Mayanot hits it out of the park! Very special thank you to all the precious teachers and students at Mayanot.” 💞
In Memory Of Jody Gibson
This story is dedicated to Jody Gibson; May she Rest In Peace. Jody, my childhood friend, was one of the most talented women I’ve ever known. More importantly she had a heart of gold. I will always remember her kindnesses to me when I was a young girl. Here is a link to Jody singing “To Sir With Love”.
May her beautiful Neshama, her G-dly Soul, have an Aliyah
Lyrics for “To Sir With Love”
Of telling tales and biting nails are gone
But in my mind
I know they will still live on and on
Who has taken you from crayons to perfume?
It isn’t easy, but I’ll try
I would write across the sky in letters
That would soar a thousand feet high
“To sir, with love”
For closing books and long last looks must end
And as I leave
I know that I am leaving my best friend
And weak from strong
That’s a lot to learn
What, what can I give you in return?
I would try to make a start
But I would rather you let me give my heart
“To sir, with love”