A Special Thank-You to Our Teachers

A beautiful early summer evening provided the backdrop for our annual picnic and outdoor service. As an added treat, religious-school director Dr. Joel Hoffman offered a few words of thanks to the teachers whom he supervises.

He started with Argentina’s northern Patagonia region, of all places, recalling when he had traveled there to lecture some years ago. His hotel room there faced an inner courtyard, which is why he had no way of knowing what exactly was happened when his sleep was interrupted first by someone shouting “no, NO, NOOO!” and then by the sounds of gunfire.

Next came the emergency vehicles, more shouting, and more gunfire. But he had no visuals, because he couldn’t see the street. He did know that Argentina hadn’t always been the most stable of countries, so he was doubly worried.

After a fitful sleep marked by nightmares, he learned the next morning that the shouting had been at the television in response to a tense last-minute soccer play, and the gunfire had been in celebration after a dramatic end to the game.

He was relieved, but hardly relaxed.

Fortunately, Dr. Hoffman told us Friday evening, he had been invited to a Shabbat service that evening in a nearby town. The host congregation turned out to be a small, entirely lay-led group. But at the service, with its recorded music and informal atmosphere, Dr. Hoffman found a community and a respite from a difficult week. “A base of spirituality,” he told us.

Then he asked us if the teachers of those Argentine lay-leaders had any way of knowing what affect their teaching would someday have, how their teaching had so positively influenced a weary traveler.

So too, the lessons our teachers teach here reach beyond the students as we see them now, like ripples on a pond that extends behind the horizon. We never get to see the full benefit of teaching.

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