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09/11/2019 03:06:10 PM


By Kim Bodemer

This week’s Torah portion, Ki Teitzei, contains 72 commandments, ranging in scope from the treatment of captives to birds’ nests. In this portion, we are told of the rights of aliens, the importance of giving charity and about fair weights and measures among many of other things. We know that in all, the Torah contains 613 commandments – certainly a lot of rules! 

The reasons for some of these rules are easy to understand, while others strike us as “because I said so” kind of rules. Today, even though many of the rules outlined in the Torah are no longer relevant or practiced, this Torah portion gives us the opportunity to consider the role of rules in our lives.

Of course, there are written rules or laws that we follow as citizens of our city, our state and our country, but there are also unwritten rules or norms that we follow as members of this Jewish community. This summer, our Education Team explored values that are core to creating the learning community we strive to be. 

The three values that were chosen to guide our work were respect, kindness and empathy. We considered how these values translated into behaviors that would acknowledge the sacred nature of our space, our time and our relationships. We asked ourselves, “What would our students, our teachers, our parents and our clergy be doing if we were embodying these values?” 

This work is ongoing and expansive, and we look forward to continuing the conversation with our students when they arrive back in the building next week and would appreciate input from the larger community as well. Showing the values of respect, kindness and empathy in our deeds and actions will help us build a strong and supportive community for all.

Kim Bodemer is the Senior Director of Education and Youth Engagement.

Fri, July 30 2021 21 Av 5781