Dear Ezra Community,
In this week’s Torah portion, the Children of Israel become a nation with a representative government and a law code. First, Moses’s father-in-law, Yitro, for whom the parashah is named, helps him set up a system of righteous judges to shoulder some of the day-to-day burden of leadership that Moses has been bearing alone. Then, God reveals the Torah to the people at Mt. Sinai.
I’ve always loved Yitro, not least because it’s my Bat Mitzvah parashah. Usually, I’m focused on the receiving of the 10 Commandments, the very exciting end of the parashah. This year, however, as I reflect on our school’s experiment in student government, I feel a particular connection to Yitro’s development of the Israelites’ leadership system.
Like Yitro, the third through eighth graders set the parameters for a system of government they thought would best suit our school. Like Moses, they chose capable, trustworthy leaders, class reps and co-presidents who have risen to the task of leading a new government.
As a result, we have a Monday chess club and are planning an art club. Almost every student from preschool through eighth grade participated in some way in the first student government fundraiser, a bake sale, by planning, baking, advertising, selling, or just coming to the bake sale table to buy a treat. We are planning a “chessketball” fundraiser event for early March. Most recently, the student government and the eighth graders shouldered the mantle of leadership to help plan and run the Ezra Olympics for Tu Bishevat.
Just as having a voice in the decisions made about their daily concerns helped prepare the people of Israel to receive the Torah at Sinai, having student leadership—age-based and elected—helps our students participate in our learning community. May we all be well represented in our governments and communities as we prepare to receive the Torah (again) this week.