21 January 2011
16 Shevat 5771
This was an intense and emotional week for the Gann community, a week that illuminated for me the deep commitments of Gann students, teachers, and parents to their passions, to each other, and to our community. We were bound together, both as a Gann community and as a broader Jewish community, by celebration, commemoration, and competition, as well as by profound sadness and loss.
On Sunday Gann’s first ever Robotics Team, named R.A.B.B.I. (Robotics and Brain Bots, Inc.), competed in its first robotics competition and won a special award, finishing 6th overall and advancing to the State Championships. I was blown away by the energy and enthusiasm at the competition, and, more importantly, by the technological savvy and teamwork of our Gann students. After the robotics competition, I attended our Winter Arts Festival, the culmination and presentation of students’ first semester work. From sculpture, painting, and video production to dance, singing, and instrumental performances, our students’ talents, creativity, and imagination shined. One student told me that walking around the gallery and watching all of her friends perform captured for her the spirit of what Gann is all about. Then, on Monday, after commemorating MLK Day with our annual “Day On” of seminars and workshops, I proudly watched our Boys’ Varsity Basketball team earn a decisive victory over Maimonides with tenacity and outstanding defense.
These wonderful accomplishments resonate with me because, in addition to highlighting individual student achievements, they illustrate how communities form around shared passions, experiences, and commitments. As we read in this week’s Torah portion, the Jewish people are transformed into a covenantal community, into a kehillah kedoshah (a holy community), both by power of the shared, one-time Sinai experience and by their ongoing, collective commitment to core values, principles, and aspirations in the form of the Ten Commandments and Torah. A kehillah kedoshah is one in which our connections to each other are formed, sustained, and strengthened by our connections – both as individuals and as a collective – to something larger than ourselves.
A kehillah kedoshah celebrates together, creates together, builds together, and plays together. And, sadly, when we must, we grieve together. Last Friday, we lost Hilary Mofsowitz, a beloved member of our Gann family and of our broader Jewish community, including the Maimonides, South Area Solomon Schechter, and Young Israel of Brookline communities. Looking around her standing-room-only funeral on Sunday, attended by so many students, parents, teachers, and friends from our different schools and so many different backgrounds reminded me that we are bound together by relationships, values, and a grander vision of family and community – commitments and aspirations that transcend the many things that so often divide us. Hilary Mofsowitz was a larger-than-life human being who inspired everyone who knew her and around whom community formed. She was and will continue to be a unique soul who could bring people together by their shared experience of her love of life and her extraordinary spirit.
Our hearts go out to Lara (Gann ’13), Sarah (Gann ’09), and Alan Mofsowitz, to Hilary’s parents, brother, and the whole Alge family, and to all those who loved Hilary so much. May her memory be a blessing and an inspiration to all of us.
Rabbi Marc Baker