Dip your apple in the honey. Shake the lulav. Happy Birthday to the world! The Jewish fall holiday season has just ended for this year, and Moravian Academy students and faculty enjoyed celebrating these sacred traditions along with the Jewish members of our community.
During Rosh Hashanah, “the head of the year”, Jewish people dip apples in honey to wish one another a sweet new year. Students in Primer through Upper School were invited to experience this tradition with our own Moravian Gold honey, harvested from the beehives at the Upper School, and beautiful red apples, picked from the orchard of Moravian Alum, Ben Scholl ’98. Look for an article about his family’s farm in the upcoming issue of the Moravian Academy Journal!
In addition to this sweet treat, guest chapel speakers in all three divisions taught lessons of reconciliation and new beginning. For the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement), Rabbi Steve Nathan, Director of Jewish Student Life and Associate Chaplain at Lehigh University, visited Lower and Middle School Chapel. He told a story about a Rabbi who lived out his devotion to God by devoting himself to serving others. Rabbi Michael Singer (of Congregation Brith Sholom in Bethlehem) visited the Upper School for a special outdoor chapel (the first in over a decade), where he spoke about renewal, reconciliation, and stewardship of the planet. (Rosh Hashanah is commemorated as the anniversary of creation or the birthday of the universe.) Students reflected on their hopes for the world, and let them take flight via a mass paper airplane ascent.
Rabbi Singer also visited the Lower School, where he spoke about Sukkot, a ten-day celebration that commemorates the forty years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness after their escape from slavery. (Sukkot begins each year just as Yom Kippur ends.) He spoke about the lulav, a symbol of Sukkot made of the leaves and fruit of four plants: date palms, myrtle, willow, and etrog or citron. He explained how the shape of each plant reminds us of our eyes, mouths, hands and hearts, and how each of these parts of ourselves can be used to serve God and each other.
Moravian Academy students, faculty, and families come from many traditions and many faiths. We welcome and encourage our community members to share their traditions with one another, and to celebrate together what gives our lives meaning and purpose. If you or your family has a religious or cultural tradition you would like to share, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. To all who celebrate, and to each of us, Shanah Tovah um’tukah’, may you have a good and sweet new year.