A. J. Heschel

The Toronto Heschel School draws deeply on the well of inspiration offered by our namesake, Rabbi Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel z”l (1907 – 1972). Rabbi Heschel descended from two illustrious Chassidic families and was a respected scholar, eloquent speaker and prolific writer. He made a unique contribution to Jewish thought by emphasizing Judaism as a unifying force among Jews and the personal relationship between people and God. Rabbi Heschel believed in applying Jewish ethical values to every aspect of life. He 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. 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.

Wonder, not doubt, is the beginning of knowledge...Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement…[We should] get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.
— Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
Rabbi Heschel was an innovative Jewish thinker and courageous Jewish leader. His life exemplified the integration of Jewish learning, Jewish ritual, and social justice. Steeped in the Hassidic traditions of Eastern European Jewry, while masterful in modern scholarship and philosophy, Heschel was simultaneously a traditional, observant, learned teacher and an outspoken, ground-breaking political and social activist.