by Jodi Rubin
From Jodi's remarks at Gan Graduation
Our family has been at the Gan for a while. Maybe because I'm the incoming Adath Secondary Vice President or maybe because after tonight I'll have four Gan alumni, I was asked to say a few words. We started here when our oldest son, Jack was 2 years old. Jack will be 12 this summer, followed by Julia, who will be 10 and Samantha, who is 7. We have spent the last 10 consecutive years as parents at Gan Shelanu. That is a pretty long run! In those 10 years, a lot has changed in the size of our family, the number of wrinkles on my face, and the frequency that I have to color my hair. But within that time and those changes, it is my perspective as a parent that has grown and developed the most.
When I started at the Gan, I was content just knowing that Jack would have a chance to meet other kids, learn some school skills, celebrate Shabbat and Jewish holidays at school, and maybe I would make a friend or two along the way. What I did not realize when we made the decision to send Jack to the Gan was how important that decision would be for our entire family. What surprised me the most is how much the Gan has taught me about being a Jewish parent. In addition to learning how to cut with scissors or how to hold a pencil the right way, by coming to the Gan, our kids learn to love Shabbat and Jewish holidays.They are taught to be kind and good friends, and they learn to understand the importance of tzedakah. But the Gan is doing more than teaching our children, the Gan involves parents in these lessons, and by involving us, we are also growing.
My favorite example is Shalach Manot. Every year, we are asked to deliver baskets to those in the community who are sick or are unable to attend holiday services. Each of our kids has come with me over the years to deliver these baskets. I’ll be honest - sometimes delivering these baskets become an item on the to-do list. I was always racing at the last minute before sundown to deliver these baskets. Last year, I was cutting it close, and told Janice I may just deliver the baskets myself. She made me promise that I would bring one of my kids, because that’s what this is all about - our kids learning the importance of caring for those in the community. And, she told me honestly, the recipients would get more joy seeing the kids’ faces than mine. Well, life got busy, and there I was, just before sundown, not with Carly, my 4-yr old, in the car, but with my 11-yr old son Jack. He was not happy when I told him we had a few baskets to deliver before meeting everyone for holiday dinner. After the first stop, we got back into the car, and Jack’s whole demeanor about the experience changed. “Oh my gosh,” he said,“ that lady was so nice. She was so happy to see us! I could tell we made her feel really happy. That was way better than I thought it was going to be.” That’s when I realized it: I thought I was sending our kids to pre-school to learn, but the Gan was doing more than that. The Gan was teaching us as parents how to be better Jews. By teaching us, we were becoming models for our children.
Janice -- you are the matriarch that makes this place so special. The commitment, loyalty, care and compassion that you have for your teachers, staff, the children and their families can’t be overstated. It is only over time that I have come to realize how much you do behind the scenes. It explains the mess that is your office! Your caring, combined with your appreciation and understanding of what it means to be Jewish are the anchors that make the Gan a home to so many children and their families. Your leadership is the reason that so many of the staff that are here tonight, are the same people who I met 10 years ago.
While you may be the matriarch, each one of the teachers here has a true love for the work that they do. I have had most of you over the years, but even the teachers that I missed along that way, I hear you in the hallways calling the kids, “My friends.” I watch you putting various kids on your lap when you see them having a hard time, giving love and hugs as if they were your own children, singing loudly at the weekly Shabbat service as a way of teaching and modelling the value you each feel for the service. Best of all, over 10 years, I have seen each of you truly appreciating the attributes that each individual child brings to the school.
I'm gonna miss this place and the routine that has been my norm for so many years. Although next fall, you may not see me here carrying another Rubin kid in at 9:18 am, know that the Gan and each of you will always hold a special place in my heart.
On behalf of Scott and our family, and, I assume, many of the parents in this room --thank you! Each of you has touched our family and all of the children here today. You have helped our children grow cognitively, you have helped them to grow as friends, and you have helped teach all of us what it means to be good people.
Adath clergy, staff and congregants share