Sunday night we discovered a leak in the ceiling between the second floor and the kitchen and then today I learned a school that played a huge part in my life is closing down.
It is a surprising gut punch is how I would describe it. If I told you it reminded me of a scene from Four Weddings And A Funeral you might wonder if that is hyperbole.
And I would understand why, especially since there were times where the idea of going to school after school held little interest.
It Was About Community & So Much More
LA Hebrew High School wasn’t just where I went for a Jewish education. It wasn’t just about getting language credit for Hebrew or taking Yiddish.
It was about community and so much more. It was a place I could see friends from camp and USY on a regular basis. It was a guarantee that we would spend four weekends together a year beyond whatever other time we could work in.
In the days before we could drive and or didn’t have regular access to a car it was valuable because we lived all over the city.
It was where I was exposed to various rabbinical leaders and other kids who were driven to excel. If you go through the lists of alumni there are more than a few that went to what people call the best universities across the country.
There is a significant list of very successful graduates but that is not why I went or why I was sent. It is not even what I think about.
It is the community and the friends. It is part of why I can travel all over the country and various parts of the world and know I will probably know someone in so many of the places I visit.
The time there didn’t just provide an education or friendships. We learned more than a little about the opposite sex and relationships.
It meant spending large chunks of time at the University of Judaism, exposure to Holocaust survivors, lectures and lessons on so many important topics.
It meant we were asked to engage in critical thinking and logical assessment of major topics from both a secular and Jewish perspective.
My depth and breadth of knowledge is significantly deeper than many because I was fortunate enough to be a part of it.
And now they say they are going to shut it down saying the impact of Covid and other social changes made it impractical to stay open,
In some ways it reminds me of when my parents sold the house I grew up in. More than seventy years old and now they are talking about shutting it down.
You can say there are bigger issues and bigger problems and in some ways there are, but this was a punch to the gut and we can only hope a suitable replacement comes along.
Read about a pastor in California who helped stop a shooter in his church by hitting him with a chair. Naturally wondered if he read about Rabbi Charlie throwing a chair at the antisemitic gunman at CBI earlier this year.
Thought about that trip to Israel back in ’85 and how I was lucky because I could choose between the LA Ulpan that many of my Hebrew High friends would choose, USY with USY friends from around LA and the US and camp.
Ultimately chose the camp trip which led to numerous adventures such as getting evacuated from a forest fire right before we left for Israel. Thirty-seven years later we still occasionally talk about it.
Thought about the discussions we had back then about antisemitism and what to do if it ever came back on a larger scale.
It seemed unlikely but not impossible.
So when I look around today and see it skyrocketing and more incidents than when I was a kid it provides a real mix of feelings.
We were lucky. We lived during a relatively sedate period of time, a sort of golden age for some things.
And I think about how strong the sense of community and connection is within me. I am always connected and confident there are others like me out there.
Doesn’t mean there aren’t problems or that they aren’t serious but that education we were provided helps remind me we always found a way through the rough spots and there is value in that.
Sometimes the most critical thing in life is hope. Hope you’ll get the job, the girl, the award, the whatever.
Hope is what helps you wake up and get out of bed.
So it sucks to see the change, but there is much gratitude there too. We got so much out of it all.