This week at Heschel, we celebrated the work and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

King Jr. was an American Civil Rights leader who dedicated his life to achieving equality for people of all colours. He organized a number of peaceful protests, including the March on Washington in 1963.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel supported King Jr. in his fight for Civil Rights and marched alongside him in Selma, Alabama. As a Jewish person, he knew what it was like to experience discrimination and saw the value of becoming an ally to another minority group to help them achieve equal rights.

At Heschel, we celebrate King Jr.’s work and legacy to show our support of diversity, equality, and Tikkun Olam, which means: “repairing the world.”

As part of our week’s events, the Tikkun Olam Committee, led by Grade 6 students and Morot Margot and Chen, planned several school-wide activities to spread awareness about the equal rights championed by King Jr. We interviewed one Grade 6 student from the committee, who said that her class learned the importance of “treating everyone the same.”

Over in Early Years, JK students had meaningful conversations about standing up for others. To represent this, they traced their feet and wrote beautiful messages. Students in SK to Grade 2 made paper hearts. Inside the heart, each student wrote about a value that is important to them. This was to show that they, like King Jr. and Rabbi Heschel, are motivated by personal and collective responsibility.

Students in Grades 3 to 5 watched a video, created by the Tikkun Olam Committee to explain the story of King Jr. and Rabbi Heschel. Students re-enacted key scenes from the story in the form of a skit.

Students in Grades 6 to 8 also watched a video explaining the meanings behind King Jr.’s story, playing a Jeopardy game with related questions.

It is not only during this one week that Heschel students engage in learning about human rights and Tikkun Olam. For example, during our Grade 8 poetry unit, each student researched and wrote a poem from the point of view of an activist who inspires them. They honoured several activists, including youth activist Malala, who fought for girls’ education in Pakistan, and activist Autumn Pelletier, an important advocate for clean water on Ontario First Nations reserves.

At the end of the year, Grade 8 students will write and deliver speeches about specific human rights that they find personally meaningful.

—Laurel and Lilah, Co-Heads of the Student Council Tikshoret Committee