Weekly Newsletter – June 18, 2021

June 18, 2021 / 8 Tamuz 5781
MAZAL TOV, CLASS OF 2021!
Last night, our Grade 12 students and a group of staff gathered in our Atrium to celebrate the King David High School Class of 2021.

Like so much of this school year, our graduation ceremony was a different experience for all of us. We regret that we couldn’t have our usual celebration with family and friends, food and dancing, but we are glad that we were able to bring our 58 graduates together for one last special moment.

Our Deputy Head of School, Alex Monchamp was the evening’s Master of Ceremonies, and he did an excellent job of guiding the ceremony smoothly along and giving everyone a few laughs.

Each year, the graduates select a peer to give the student D’Var Torah. This year, we heard from Vida Sussman, who reflected that while we consider what Judaism means to us, we too often forget to ask ourselves, “Why am I Jewish?”
She discussed a lecture given by the late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth, who said that “we believe that the G-d of Israel is the G-d of all humanity, but the religion of Israel is not the religion of all humanity.” Vida explained that Judaism “was born as a protest movement against empires and imperialism that attempts to impose a single truth on a plural world…. G-d does not create one language and culture, but a rich abundance of them.” In other words, Vida said, Judaism is intended to celebrate the “dignity in difference” and embrace each person’s originality, not force assimilation.

Next, we viewed a message recorded by our Co-Presidents of the Board of Directors, Neville Israel and Jackie Cristall Morris, who had some lovely words for our Class of 2021. Then the students received their final lesson from Rabbi Berger, also pre-recorded. Rabbi Berger’s message encouraged our students to always remember to always make space for others.

Russ Klein, our Head of School, shared his farewell address. At each graduation ceremony, Mr. Klein reflects on an issue that is relevant to our shared experience. This year, he spoke to our students about the recent sharp rise in anti-Semitism around the world. He told our graduates, “We must address our Jewishness with hope and pride. Hope because what we know and recognize, we can deal with – you and me, all of us together. Pride in who we are and how we can use that knowledge to give each other strength.”

Mr. Klein told the group that the power to affect change is in all of them. “In a world where it’s becoming the norm to dismiss a voice of one who thinks differently, you have the power to embrace learning and think critically,” he said. “In a world where people are quick to inflict harm with their words and turn their hate into shaming, blaming and a justification to violence, you have the power to seek evidence, to find understanding and to work for reconciliation.” To read his full address, please click here.

After Mr. Klein’s address, each Grade 12 student received their graduation certificate, and then the awards and scholarships were handed out to the students. For the list of awards presented and the recipients, please click here
Oliver Munt was chosen by his peers to give the Student Address, and he closed out the ceremony. He discussed the history of success amongst the Jewish people, and what it means to be able to achieve greatness despite hardship. He explained that sometimes, it just comes down to perspective, and shared the story of twin brothers who dealt with the difficulty of having an alcoholic father in completely different ways – one allowing the negativity to cloud his life, and the other allowing the experience to make him a better person.

Oliver said, “Your perspective in life will determine your destination. One of the boys observed his father, and chose to follow in his footsteps. The other observed his father’s failures and was able to learn, was able to grow. This ability to learn from our mistakes is the main reason why we, as a people, have found success no matter the challenge at hand. In order to find happiness, you must hold the belief that no action or event is a failure, but instead a learning opportunity.” He urged his peers to view this difficult year as a lesson instead of a loss.

Oliver also spoke about the importance of family in shaping who we become, and thanked all the King David parents, grandparents, and siblings for guiding our graduates through the last five years. He thanked the Jewish community and the King David staff for their support, saying, “Without the Jewish community, the school would not exist – and I mean that literally. The school is built on the backs of the members of the community who dedicate both their time and resources, making sure that school not only exists but thrives as well.”

A huge thank you must go out to the wonderful team of parent volunteers who assisted in planning such a wonderful event, which was, once again, made extra difficult this year by the restrictions of COVID-19. Their gifts of a King David branded bag, beach towel, water bottle, and more is sure to kick off a wonderful summer for the members of the Class of 2021.
 
Todah Rabah to our Parent Action Committee (PAC) for the traditional gift of a handcrafted mezuzah. When our graduates use their mezuzah, they will know that a small piece of their King David home will always be with them. 
 
Thanks also to the many staff members who made the evening such a success. A special thanks goes to our Graduation Teacher Sponsor, Julie Lane, who spent so much time coordinating all the details relating to the ceremony, and to Gabriel Bacelar, who made the livestreaming of the event possible.
 
With parents unable to attend in person, pictures become even more important. We are grateful to Jocelyne Halle, Lianne Cohen, and Adele Lewin, who captured the joy before and during the celebration.
 
Our 58 graduates have spent the last five years becoming responsible and socially conscious community members, and we are so proud of all they have accomplished. We look forward to seeing what they achieve in the next stage of their lives. 
 
We wish the best of luck to all our graduates!

To watch the Graduation Ceremony in its entirety, please click here. 
A SPECIAL GRADUATION TRADITION
Traditionally, incoming Grade 8 families gather at King David for a Shabbat Dinner. We close the circle each June with a Havdalah ceremony for our graduating class. Havdalah is the separation between Shabbat and the new week and this Havdalah is the separation between high school and the next chapter for our graduating students. On June 5, the Class of 2021 shared reflections and memories on their years at King David and gathered together for a special King David tradition.
Mazal Tov!
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