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School's out

If I were the kind of Hebrew-school teacher I want to be, I would have spent the morning baking, fashioning letters of the aleph-bet out of cookie dough and gilding them with glassy sugar. I would have planned something wise and inspiring to say to my two groups of students on our last day of class. They would have shown off their shiny new Hebrew skills, and I would have praised them for all they've learned, and then they would have hugged me goodbye and dashed out to their parents' waiting cars.

Instead this week I am clinging to my to-do list by the tips of my fingernails. I managed to pick up some cookies at the coffee shop on my way to shul, shaped like stars and butterflies instead of Hebrew letters. My younger students filed in late, promptly got high on sugar, muddled their way through a few lines of text while throwing things at one another, and I had to swallow the sinking realization that over the summer the younger ones are going to forget most of what I managed to teach them...

And you know what? It's okay. It is the nature of Hebrew school teachers to wish we could impart a genuine love of our material to our charges, and it is the nature of adolescents to wish they were anywhere but Hebrew class. So it goes. (At least my older kids listened with apparent attention when I closed class by reading a modified kaddish de rabanan -- that was heartening.) In the end, what can one do? I hope they learned something; maybe they'll remember something fondly; and in the fall we'll regroup and try this whole enterprise over again. For now, school's out for the summer...huzzah.

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