Hayom harat olam!

Dear KSDS families, 

Today is the birthday of the world – hayom harat olam!  These are the words that we will recite on Rosh Hashanah. Just as Pesach marks the anniversary of our creation as a nation, Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish anniversary of creation in a cosmic sense.  Yet, we approach this anniversary with some trepidation—devastating hurricanes, epic flooding, catastrophic wildfires, historic ice melt and the warmest temperature recorded in Anchorage, our planet has taken quite a drubbing this past year. How do we celebrate the creation of the earth and of life and humanity, when so much has been lost and destroyed?  

The Torah portion from this past Shabbat reminds us of this challenge: 

“Later generations who succeed you… and foreigners who come from distant lands and see the plagues and diseases that the Lord has inflicted upon that land, all its soil destroyed by sulfur and salt, beyond sowing and producing, no grass growing in it …will ask: Why did the Lord do thus to the land?”                                               [Deuteronomy 29:21-23]

The text above is referring to the destruction of the Land of Israel as a punishment for worshiping other gods. We reject the notion that the natural disasters of today are punishments for human transgression. However, the punishment of land being destroyed, of trees yielding no more fruit, of soil drying out and water being unpalatable – all this could very well be a consequence for our not listening, not heeding the messages of caution that are being given every day. 

At Krieger Schechter, we heed this message in earnest. We implemented zero plastic utensils in the cafeteria based on student desire and last spring we replaced all classroom and most hallway lighting to LED, reducing our electric consumption. We are reducing, we are reusing, we are recycling, and we have learned that we don’t have to give up every amenity to do so.  Nearly every school communication is electronic and printers are now fully networked, reducing excess paper usage and eliminating the need for individual toner cartridges. Faculty are teaching about our natural world and climate change, and students are undertaking sustainability projects to make environmental changes both in school and in their own lives. We look forward to sharing several new projects in the coming weeks. 

Maimonides teaches us to follow the “golden mean” (shvil hazahav), a sensible, middle of the road position. Let us all act responsibly, so that the birthday of the world—the anniversary of creation—does not become another marker for our failure. Doing so will ensure that the Jewish year 5780 and the years ahead will remain happy, joyous occasions in which we celebrate the best that mankind can achieve.  

Wishing you and your families a happy “birthday celebration,” and all the best for a sweet new year. L’shana tovah!     

Rabbi Moshe Schwartz                     Robyn Blum                            Wendy Gelber

Head of School                                   Head of Middle School           Head of Lower School