When we think back on our own upbringings, it is clear that the greatest gift that our parents bestowed on us was the strength to be confident in our Judaism, to lead by example, and to use all we have to contribute to the world around us. We want most to give our children the very same gift that our parents gave to us – but that is easier said than done.
Our parents and grandparents devoted many years of their lives to learning and teaching Torah. They helped build strong Jewish communities in places where there was no Jewish infrastructure, ensuring that the next generation of Jewish children had something to be proud of and something to strive towards. One of our children’s great grandfathers was senior rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregation of Johannesburg and chief rabbi of the Cape Town Hebrew Congregation.
Educating our children is one of the hardest jobs that God gives us as parents. Partnering with a school that will share in realizing the goals and aspirations we set for our children is a vitally important decision, and not always a simple one to make. There are many considerations.
So when asked why an Orthodox family like us chose The Toronto Heschel School for our children’s education, we can say that we looked long and hard to find a school to match our ideal educational vision. At the end of the day, we chose something that stretches and expands a child’s perspectives, that creates some discomfort and challenge to religious and ideological complacency, and still allows our family the space to be authentic to our own messorah (traditions).
The Toronto Heschel School maintains high standards of Jewish academic excellence, delivered by its highly trained and very devoted teaching staff. The resulting impact is an environment where students learn that their secular lives and Jewish lives are one and the same.
The students excel with the bar set high. They achieve goals and push themselves further so that they continually grow. They learn respect for Jewish values, for themselves, for each other, for the world around them, and then they inspire others to do the same. They create with the arts, with language, with thoughts, and with Judaism.
Not everyone at our school keeps kosher and Shabbat the same way we do. It is not the same Torah environment that we were raised in nor the same educational system that we went through as children. Nonetheless, the important point is that our three children, with the support of their teachers and friends, are proud to celebrate and invest in their Judaism and live according to Halachah (Jewish law) the way our family has for many generations. They are able to learn from being in a diverse Jewish environment that encourages them to be the best people they possibly can. They are very happy to be who they are.
We see our children being true to who they are, even in an environment where everyone is not the same. Our children are learning to lead by example, and not be criticism of those who choose to do something differently. They learn from everyone around them with integrity and respect, from friends and teachers across a very broad religious spectrum.
We are extremely grateful to partner with The Toronto Heschel School in the education of our three children. They are proud of where they came from and just as proud of where they are going.
Ashira Gobrin is SVP Global Operations at Vision Critical / Angus Reid Strategies and Past Board Chair of The Toronto Heschel School.
Ohran Gobrin is a mechanical engineer, chartered accountant, and business valuator.