Founding Rabbi Speaks with Middle School

Teddy F., Class of 2021
On Wednesday, October 31, Rabbi Henry Zoob came to speak to the middle school government. If you are not familiar with that name, Rabbi Zoob is the one with the idea to build this school 36 years ago.
What an honor to meet the founder of our school! He came to the middle school to share stories about his Jewish journey, his legacy at Rashi, and his book, “A Lifetime of Genesis.” My peers had prepared interview questions to ask Rabbi Zoob. When asked about his life story, he said, “When I was 17, I worked as a hut boy in the white mountains. I was near a waterfall one day. I heard G-d telling me to become a rabbi.” He admitted that when he entered rabbinical school, he knew very little Hebrew. We were in awe about how persistent he was in making his dream come true.

Rabbi Zoob showed great persistence in the founding of our school, which took five years to conceptualize and found after he graduated from Rabbinical school. He explained that in the early days, he asked every Reform rabbi to join the founding committee to help with the school. Some thought it a crazy idea. But he knew perfectly what he wanted: a school that taught all the secular subjects found in other schools, but also taught Hebrew and Jewish Studies through the lens of Reform Judaism. One student asked Rabbi Zoob what he thought of the school now. With this question, his face lit up and he smiled for a second, then responded. He said, “This school is amazing it has gone far past my expectations.”

The middle school’s conversation with Rabbi Zoob took place shortly following the shooting in Pittsburgh and we were particularly moved by his answer when asked about his thoughts on the tragedy. He was speechless for a second, then said that we have to be educated about incidents like this. “It’s important not to be ignorant to awful events,” he said. “If we are educated, we can put a stop to antisemitism.

“Rabbi Zoob coming to speak with us was a truly moving and meaningful experience,” said Lexi S., Middle School Class President. “We all appreciate his hard work to make possible the amazing education we receive and are blessed to have him in our lives.”

Mr. Civin, a 6th-7th grade Social Studies teacher who has worked at the school for seventeen years, said, “‘A man without history is like a tree without roots’ and Rabbi Zoob is a root on the Rashi tree. By learning more about his original vision and the challenges he faced on the way, our kehillah will receive the nourishment that a tree needs to live.”
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