The Heschel Experience
Who was A. J. Heschel?

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was a Jewish scholar whose human rights activism and strong support of the American Civil Rights movement, in addition to his concern for the spiritual quality of human relations and his promotion of the unity of the Jewish people, inspired the establishment of The Toronto Heschel School.


Awe & Wonder

Wonder rather than doubt is the root of all knowledge.

Following the teachings of Rabbi Heschel, students learn to find spirituality in the natural world that surrounds them, to worship God by respecting and caring for each other, and to pray in a manner that expresses their thanksgiving and their trust in God. They also learn to view the world around them with awe and a sense of wonder.


Tikkun Olam/Environment

Human being is both being in the world and living in the world. Living involves responsible understanding of one's role in relation to all other beings. For living is not being in itself, but living of the world, affecting, exploiting, consuming, comprehending, deriving, depriving.
A Jew is asked to take a leap of action, rather than a leap of thought.

Following the teachings of Rabbi Heschel, students learn how to find religious significance in every phenomenon of nature. The School maintains a very strong fully integrated environmental ethos.


Pluralism

The problem to be faced is: how to combine loyalty to one's own tradition with reverence for different traditions.

Just as Rabbi Heschel sought to unify the Jewish people, one of the founding principles of our school is that it remain an interdenominational, religious Jewish Day School that promotes pluralism, understanding and mutual respect. The Toronto Heschel School welcomes families from a range of Jewish practice, levels of observance and family structures.


Social/Civic Activism

Remember that there is meaning beyond absurdity. Know that every deed counts, that every word is power...Above all, remember that you must build your life as if it were a work of art.

Rabbi Heschel believed that in order to be a good Jew, one must first be a good human being, concerned with justice. In this spirit, students at the Toronto Heschel School learn to apply the teachings of the Torah into their daily life both in the school community and within the community at large.


Derekh Eretz

When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.

Drawing on the words of Rabbi Heschel, students learn that doing "mitzvot" begins with small acts of kindness to each other, with mutual concern and consideration. There is a "Toronto Heschel" way of acting and behaving in the School that begins with administration and staff and is emulated by students and their parents. To describe this behaviour, the School uses the Hebrew term "Derekh Eretz".