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D’var Torah: Rabbi Ravid Tilles (Ki Tavo)

The new school year has finally arrived! We are concluding an invigorating summer of reflection, strategic work and planning as we eagerly await the arrival of our students. But in some ways it has also been a summer of heartbreak and sadness while we watched, like all of you,  news reports from Charlottesville and Houston. Though vastly different in many ways, both events have deeply shaken our national consciousness and have shown us the worst and then the best of American character and capability. These events remind us that our hearts have the potential to travel many hundreds or thousands of miles, across state lines, and connect with people we have never met.

Our empathy and our concern for the stranger is a core Jewish value that we see reinforced in this week’s Torah portion Ki Tavo. In this portion we find the famous verses from our Passover Seder that begin “My Father was a wandering Aramean…” (Deut. 26:5-8). These verses recall how far the Israelite people had come during their 40 year-long journey. They had been strangers, oppressed in the Land of Egypt, and now they stood at the edge of the Promised Land, preparing for a life of prosperity. God reminds them that every year, when it is time to bring the first fruits, the Israelites must make note of their gratitude for their good fortune, AND they must share their wealth with the stranger and the oppressed.

One of the most important lessons we can teach our children, and a lesson that we constantly reinforce with every student in every grade level at our school, is that the world is bigger than ourselves and that we are responsible for one another. That kindness and love for others is essential to our nature as Jewish people and human beings. We teach our students the prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving, but we remind them that prayer is only the first step and that action must follow. Which is why we encourage our Gan Shelanu students to share, and find tzedakah projects for our Lower School students, and promote citizenship in our Intermediate Division and create social action projects with our 8th graders. All of these initiatives reinforce what our Torah treasures the most and therefore, our priority as a Jewish community. We must give thanks for what we have and then remember to share with those most in need. Our faculty, staff and administration all believe the work we are doing with our students, your children, is crucial toward repairing our shared society and communities.

May we all have a blessed year of learning, love, compassion and growth in which we see the world become a better place! Shanah Tovah!

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Meet Christen Hazel!

Christen is excited to return to Schechter for her second year as the Director of Annual Giving. She holds a B.A. in Art History and an M.A.T. in Art Education from the University of New Hampshire. Prior to joining the Schechter community, Christen was the Associate Director of Advancement at the The Pike School.

Christen looks forward to listening to people speak passionately about Schechter and inspiring them to support our amazing school philanthropically.

In her free time, Christen enjoys making artisan journals from found objects.

Christen feels #SchechterPride when working collaboratively with faculty, staff and students to give special visitors the opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue with other members of the community on Grandparents’ and Special Visitors’ Day.

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Meet Marla Quinn!

Marla is excited to return to Schechter for her 9th year as a 1st-grade teacher. She holds a B.A. in Elementary Education from Fitchburg State University and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Northeastern University. Every year, Marla looks forward to collaborating with the talented faculty here at Schechter.

In her free time, Marla loves spending time with family.

Marla feels #SchechterPride thanks to the connections she makes with children and their families.

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Meet Mark Springer!

Mark is looking forward to returning to Schechter for his second year as the Associate Head of School! Mark holds a B.A. in History from Bucknell University and an M.Ed. in Elementary Education and Reading from Lesley University. Additionally, Mark has Massachusetts Certifications as Elementary Teacher for grades K-6, Reading Specialist for grades K-12 and as Elementary School Principal.

Prior to joining the Schechter team, Mark taught 6th grade in the Brockton Public Schools from 1978-1981 and 1st, 3rd and 5th grades in the Brookline Public Schools from 1981-1990. He was an elementary school principal in the Dedham Public Schools from 1990-1995 and an elementary school principal at the Mason-Rice School in Newton from 1995-2016.

Every year, Mark can’t wait to meet new students and their families as well as see returning students once again. He is also excited each year to work with our faculty.

In his free time, Mark enjoys reading, playing golf and tennis.

Mark felt #SchechterPride when he visited Israel with Schechter’s 8th grade students. He feels #SchechterPride each and every day when students exhibit kindness to one another.

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Meet Rachel Chiel Katz!

Rachel is excited to return to Schechter for her 12th year as a Middle School teacher. She will teach 8th grade Language Arts this year, while having also taught 7th grade Language Arts and 7th grade Social Studies in the past. She holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. Every year, Rachel looks forward to getting to know a new group of students and observing their insightful and creative discussions of literature.

In her free time, Rachel loves reading mysteries and historical fiction. She also enjoys making paper cuts and creating other types of art.

Rachel feels #SchechterPride because she is not only a teacher, but an alumna and a Schechter parent. She knows her children are in excellent hands and feels lucky to work with such talented and committed educators.