Metal menorahWhen asked about the origin and meaning behind the holiday of Hanukkah, most people will reflect on either the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian-Greeks or the miracle of the oil lasting for eight days. Setting aside that the story of the miracle may have been a fabrication of the Rabbis to downplay the military victory, both of these origin stories only briefly touch on the reason for the name of the holiday.

Hanukkah means dedication. In the case of the holiday, it was more of a re-dedication, as the Maccabees purified the Temple in Jerusalem to make it fit for worship following its desecration by the forces of Antiochus. The military victory occurred to allow the Maccabees to liberate the Temple and the story of the oil stems from the lighting of Temple’s menorah as part of the re-dedication efforts.

It’s fitting then that our school calendar at this time of year brings with it several opportunities for our students to also engage in re-dedication to their academic studies. Report cards have been issued in the high school and were mailed today in the middle school. Parent conferences kicked off this week with the first round of high school conferences and will continue over the next two weeks for both divisions.

Report cards and conferences offer an opportunity for parents and students to have conversations about student learning. Students can take stock of their efforts and see where they need to make adjustments or change strategies. They can feel reinforced that their hard work is paying off or realize that they need to reach out for the many supports available at school.

So, this Hanukkah, rather than starting planning for your New Year’s resolutions and what new things you want to do, think about what you want to re-dedicate yourself to.

Shabbat Shalom v’Chag Urim Same’ach!

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