This week we read Parshat Veyeitzei.  It recounts how Ya’akov matured as a person: leaving his home, having a visionary dream, journeying to Haran, falling in love, building a family, reconciling with his brother Esav, and wrestling with a spiritual being who renamed him Yisrael. The middah for this week is, “work hard for what you believe in.”  It is based on the 21 years that Ya’akov worked for his father-in-law Lavan in order to marry his beloved Rachael, and take his family home with him. Working for 21 years for something you love and believe in has personal relevance for me.  This is my 21st year at the Toronto Heschel School.  I began here as a Grade 3 teacher in September 1997, a year after the school was founded, and Heschel has been a labour of love for me ever since.   Over the past 21 years I have learned from inspirational  mentors and colleagues, met and worked with hundreds of engaged, committed parents, and had the privilege of helping raise a generation of children, each one remarkable and unique.   Yesterday, during parent-teacher interviews, I had the opportunity to meet with many new families at the school.  Overwhelmingly, what I heard from families was how impressed they were with their children’s teachers.   Over and over I heard, “what an amazingly dedicated staff you have!”  It was such a feeling of joy for me to hear that parents see and appreciate what I witness every day:  Heschel teachers dedicating themselves, heart and soul, to creating the best possible Jewish education for children.   One parent said, “I’m not sure how you do it, but what my child comes home saying and learning is incredible.  What is your secret?”  The simple and honest answer is in this week’s middah:  Heschel teachers truly work hard for what they believe in.

Shabbat Shalom,