Wednesday, June 28, 2017

6th Grade Girls onto Bigger and Better, Sure Better than My School Memories

There aren't too many things I'm willing to do instead of going to the pool. We don't get all that many "women's hours" at our local pool, and the season is much too short. But one thing trumps pool, my grandchildren. And last night was graduation time for the 6th Grade Girls of Ofra.

Getting to Ofra proved a bit more difficult than usual, since there had been a major accident between Givat Asaf (the Beit El Junction) and Ofra. If I had been coming from Shiloh, it wouldn't have been as much a problem in theory if we had our own car. Due to the road being closed until the mess of the accident was cleaned, people going from Shiloh to Jerusalem went on the Alon Road, which doesn't pass Ofra. I was Jerusalem for some errands, a shiva call and brainstorming lunch. Travel to Ofra was complicated for everyone, and the time of the graduation was delayed so all of the parents could make it. Finally, I did get to Ofra on the first bus let through. Real life is never all that dull.

Thank Gd I did make it to Ofra with enough time to spare that I was able to have dinner at my daughter's before the party/event.

I must say that not only was it very exciting and thrilling to watch my granddaughter and her friends perform and work together, but I am so happy that her education, unlike my own, has a strong emphasis on group values, working together and independence.

Last week I had been in Ofra for the 8th Grade Graduation, and there too I couldn't get over how the entire staff, including the principal knows the parents and the students and care about them as people. In the world I grew up in, even in elementary school, when we had only one teacher, nobody thought of me as more than just another one in the classroom. No teacher spoke to me as a person, as if they cared at all. And we certainly didn't know the principal. Only if a student was a major problem would the top administration know they existed. Here in Israel, my children's teachers, even decades after graduation, ask about them.

In Hebrew there's a phrase that has no real English translation, because it's very cultural. לגבש כיתה\קבוצה ligabesh kita/kvutza. The object is to make the individuals function as a group. This isn't to make them "the same." It's to see how each can use his/her individual talents to make the group function as a strong supportive group. It's done in school, youth movements and also staff.

I like to think of it as the essential ketoret, a special incense used in Tabernacle and then Holy Temple worship.
“God said to Moses: Take fragrances such as balsam, onycha, galbanum, and pure frankincense, all of the same weight, as well as other fragrances. Make the mixture into incense, as compounded by a master perfumer, well-blended, pure and holy.” (Ex. 30:34-5)
The Torah does not provide the exact recipe for the ketoret, the incense that was burned daily in the Temple. Only in the oral tradition do we find a detailed list of eleven ingredients:
  • 70 portions of the four fragrances mentioned in the verse.
  • 16 portions of myrrh, cassia, spikanard, and saffron.
  • 12 portions of costus.
  • 9 portions of cinnamon.
  • 3 portions of cinnamon bark.
  • In many ways the blending of these spices is like  לגבש כיתה\קבוצה ligabesh kita/kvutza. No one stands out too much, and the whole is very different from the parts.

    Gd willing, may all these lovely girls have full and rewarding lives. And warmest thanks to the devoted staff.

    Here are some pictures from last night:

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