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Dr. Alissa C Zuchman, Director, 847-291-7788

Seeing the World in Pairs Wednesday, January 3, 2024 – 22 Tevet 5784

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My dear friend, a grandmother of twins, related the following story to me. She was driving her twin grandchildren to a park when one of them said, “Savta, I see a truck, but where is the other one?” Like this twin boy who sees his life through the glasses that everything comes in pairs, Jewish people’s lives also can be seen as grounded in pairs.

Jewish educators work along with families to instill a sense of Jewish pride and responsibility, for example by teaching young learners to “see the other” or look out for neighbors and friends besides us. Following are a few examples of the “pairs” we experience as Jews living outside of Israel, and how these enrich many of our lives. We keep two different calendars, the Gregorian one to ground us in our daily life and the Hebrew one to synchronize Jewish celebrations, which allows us to sharpen our planning and organizational skills. Many Jews hold two names, a secular one for use every day and a Hebrew one given at birth and used mainly in Jewish life cycle events. This has the potential to elevate the uniqueness of our identity across the various parts of the whole self. It is normative to speak the vernacular language of the country in which we reside; however, many Jews may also speak or aspire to speak Hebrew or other Jewish dialects in the interest of maintaining a first-hand connection to their brethren, culture, and history alongside Jewish people across the world.

Living in the country of one’s choice comes with an in-depth commitment to foster connection with that nationality while being aware that, if needed or wanted, Jews are guaranteed an eternal right to settle in the land of Israel, with a second, dual, or replacement nationality. The fact that Jewish learners have the choice to study in two different schools, a public one and a Jewish one, should be celebrated as an edifying trait worth the effort. May 2024 bring us additional ways to instill a sense of Jewish pride and responsibility by highlighting interesting pairs of our fundamental Jewish being.

Dr. Alicia Gejman

Senior Educator