The holiday of Shavuot begins as the sun sets tomorrow evening. According to our tradition, on Shavuot, centuries ago, Moses climbed Mt. Sinai and received the Torah, the Jewish story that is the foundation of our people. We’re taught that when Moses received the Torah, he began teaching it to his student, Joshua. Joshua would go on to teach it to the elders of the community and the elders would teach it to the prophets. The prophets, in turn, would teach Torah to the sages of the Great Assembly, an institution that led the Jewish people during the period of the Second Temple (520 BCE-70 CE). The sages would teach it to others who would teach it to their students. These students would become teachers of Torah and continue the process, a process which continues to this very day – an unending chain of teaching and learning, of sharing the wisdom of Torah, of ensuring that the Jewish people continue to thrive.
Through the learning that we engage in at Ramat Shalom, whether it be tomorrow evening, at our Shavuot celebration, in our Early Childhood and Torah School classrooms, our B’nai Mitzvah tutoring sessions or our adults learning programs, the passing on of Torah that began with Moses at Mt. Sinai continues in our community.
Just yesterday, you received messages from Allison Sands, our Early Childhood Director, and Doug Hoffman, our new Board President, announcing that Allison will be stepping down from her position to pursue a new professional opportunity. While we will all miss her leadership, we as a community celebrate with her as she takes this next step. For sixteen years, as a parent, a teacher and then our Director, Allison has learned from the Ramat Shalom community. Ramat Shalom has been her Torah. Many of you have been her teachers. Many of our children have been her students. And these students have also been her teachers.
Allison and I like to joke that we have grown up together. Watching her develop into the Jewish educator she is today has been an honor. It is an honor to be her teacher, a privilege to be her friend and a gift to be her student.
As Allison begins this new professional chapter, we as a community take great pride in knowing that her success is proof that we’re doing our part to follow in Moses’ footsteps – to pass on Torah to a new group of students who will become tomorrow’s teachers. In her new position, Allison will be called up to teach and inspire many children, parents and teachers. The lessons that her Ramat Shalom family have given her all these years will forever be a part of the Torah she will share with those fortunate enough to call her their teacher. And the lessons she leaves us with will forever be a part of who we are. How wonderful it is that Lindsay Duggar, who has been a teacher in our school for four years and has been mentored by Allison during this time period, has agreed to serve as our Interim Director as we begin the search for our new Early Childhood Director. This is all part of the unending chain of Torah that we celebrate on Shavuot and we live at Ramat Shalom.
Because it is so important to learn Torah and gain the wisdom needed to pass it on to the next generation, our tradition teaches us that is crucial that we provide for ourselves a teacher. It is only with the help of a teacher that Torah will fill our lives with meaning and purpose. But, a teacher does more than allow us to embrace Torah. By obtaining a teacher, Judaism says, we also make for ourselves a friend (Pirkei Avot 1:6). For those of us who have learned from Allison, we know that this is very true. And so we say the words to Allison that our Early Childhood children sing at the end of every Friday morning Shabbat celebration, “Shalom Chaverim, goodbye to my friend, ‘til we meet again, Shalom!” Fortunately for us, Allison and her family will continue to call Ramat Shalom their spiritual home so we will meet again real soon.