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Back to school

The new year has begun.

Not the new Jewish year – we don’t yet have to start writing 5775 on our checks – but the school year.

More than any other of our new years – the calendar year, our company’s or organization’s fiscal year, the Mishnaic fiscal years for animal or trees, even than Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of a school year marks a moment of radical change.

One day, students and teachers and their families are on summer vacation, which Hebrew more evocatively calls hachofesh hagadol, the long freedom. The next, their lives are again structured by demands of school: buses and car pools, pencils and notebooks, smartboards and iPads, homework and procrastination. And in school: assignments, tests, books to read, sums to calculate.

A structure for their learning and their teaching.

It is, if you think about it, an amazing endeavor.

The rhythms of school do not directly include all of us, other than the return of the herds of yellow buses that have returned to our shaded streets.

For some of the younger adults, now 18 or 22 or 26, this fall marks the shocking realization that they are no longer in the world they toddled into all those years ago, no longer bound by the school day or freed by the promise that there is a right answer to every question.

Congratulations. Welcome to adulthood, where the first few years is an education in and of itself.

But for the rest of us?

Have we kept alive the excitement of learning, the surprise of discovery, the challenge of study? Maybe it’s time to renew our inner child, and join in an educational experience, whether formal or informal.

Food for thought come Rosh Hashanah. -LY

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