From Head of School Adam W. Fischer
With the first few weeks of school under way, I’ve been reflecting on the joy and laughter I hear in the halls each day. At Rashi, one of our core values is Ruach, or spirit, and the way that our connections with one another build ruach and kehillah (community).
I have found that I often build connections through food. Whenever the first frosts of fall hit and our days spent in the warmth of the summer fade into memory, many of us are drawn to the comfort of food like moths to a glowing flame.
We also have strong cultural and community connections to food. This trend doubles up for many in our community with the arrival of the high holidays. Family gatherings, the warmth of celebration, the familiar sights, sounds, and smells of our family observances; it is a recipe fit for comfort food.
This year, nothing represents this idea of comfort quite like the humble kreplach. Dumplings in all their forms were my father’s favorite – pierogies, kreplach, wontons, and momos. Every couple of weeks, he and I made them when we had dinner together. The rare evenings that we made them from scratch were my favorite because cooking together unlocked an endless stream of stories told and memories shared.
At this season, he would have reminisced about the “Sookie”, as my grandmother called it, that they would construct on the terrace outside their Brooklyn apartment, the goings on in the neighborhood, or tales of my grandmother’s childhood related to food, like the mystery of the missing sour cream (a lesson in temptation on a hot summer afternoon and taking responsibility for one’s actions).
In reflecting on this simple comfort, a lovely parallel emerges both literally and metaphorically. Within the framework of Sukkot, dumplings represent tucking ourselves into the moment. Rich with the bounty of the season, wrapping ourselves and our loved ones in warm goodness. We absorb all the sustaining and satisfying elements of the season and are enriched and enhanced, individually and together. We practice taking the best of what is given us, what is left, and transforming it into something greater, the whole more deliciously fulfilling and nourishing than the parts.
Stepping back further, this honest dish reminds me of Rashi’s daily work – that we build our students’ foundations: layer by layer, one “ingredient” at a time.
In celebration of Sukkot and building ruach and kehillah… Dig in, and Chag Sameach (Happy Holiday!),
Adam W. Fischer