My Grandparents have been among my most powerful teachers: of what it means to be a mensch (good person) and how to cook and lots more. I have had powerfully influential teachers during my life in school as well, such as my High School biology teacher Leonard Warner, inspiration to be a biology teacher and environmentalist myself. I’ve been lucky to study with Clergy who’ve inspired me to in that direction as well, beginning with Cantor Susan Caro many years ago. Who have those teachers been in your life?
I have also been a teacher almost all my life. At age five, I remember instructing my baby brother with a toy chalk board. At sixteen, I began teaching in my High School in an apprenticeship program. I briefly worked as a lab technician and my first year of teaching was impossibly hard, and there were times following the birth of my children when I did not teach. But otherwise, teaching has provided constant fulfillment for me: communicating; the joy of the fabulous question; opening doors in “teachable moments”; the catching of a spark from mind to mind, teaching a song and hearing it catch wing with young voices; inspiration; exploring ideas, helping someone overcome roadblocks and find a path to success…… I am as lucky as it gets: I love my work.
So I found the perfect song for Teacher recognition Shabbat at my Hebrew School. I’ve heard it before. I love that it talks of trees, and planting, and creating a future for those yet to come. I’m sure it’s taken from the legend of Honi, a magical rain maker, original Rip Van Winkle, who chided an old man for planting a carob tree, because he would never eat its fruit. Honi fell asleep under the tree, to wake seventy years later. The old man’s grandson was harvesting the tree. I love trees. Torah is also called our Tree of Life: it’s ideals and laws of kindness have kept us alive through the ages. Still somehow didn’t realize this song is really about teachers, until just yesterday. Now I actually feel even more lucky and blessed. It’s really been an honor and a priveledge. (I am choked up right now…)
In the Garden is a Tree
Planted by someone who only imagined me
What love, what vision
I marvel at this gift: no fruit could be sweeter than this!
I’m standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before me.
As our people roamed from land to land; something passed from hand to hand
And it isn’t just the words and stories
of Ancient laws and golden glories,
It’s the way we study, it’s the Book we study,
I’m standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before me
Now my life is full of choice, because a young man raised his voice,
Because a young girl took a chance, I am freedom’s inheritance
Long ago they crossed the sea; to make a life for you and me
So today I’ll plant a seed, a book of life for you to read
It’s fruit will ripen in the sun, the words will sound when I am gone
These are the things I pass along: