Interview with Zipora Schorr, Newest Member of RAVSAK’s Board of Directors
I started teaching Sunday school when I was about 12 for my sister, who was the principal of a religious school in Detroit, so I have been in the “family business” for a long time. (I taught high school at Yeshiva University High School in Manhattan, then moved to Silver Spring, Maryland, where I built a pre-school and Hebrew school and taught elementary, middle and high school as well.)
My earliest memories are studying Torah with my mother a”h, who imbued me with the faith and passion which I have today. Since my father died young, Mother was the one who made Kiddush and lit the Chanukah menorah, and I thought all women did that!
That, in many ways, explains who I am as a woman and as a Jew.
Why do you believe that Jewish day school education is important?
I have always been vocal about the fact that I consider Jewish day school education to be the primary factor in perpetuating Jewish connectedness and Jewish identity.
A Jewish day school graduate is a different kind of Jew. He or she is not a bifurcated being, with a secular side and a Jewish side. The two are melded seamlessly, and become a part of an enduring identity that translates itself to later decisions and later life choices.
Of course there are no guarantees, but my experience tells me that Jewish day school graduates become the leaders of their communities, they raise Jewish families, they consider Judaism an integral part of their lives. (Here is a stunning statistic: Of all of our high school graduates, 98% are married to Jews!).
I consider community schools an absolute imperative for the American landscape. For the most part, Orthodox families will send their children to day school; not so all other streams of Judaism, and certainly not the unaffiliated. Does that mean that only the Orthodox will be Jewishly educated? That is a frightening thought, and should propel us to action.
What strengths do you bring to the board?
The strengths I think I can bring to the RAVSAK board are my many years of experience, my passion for Jewish education and for all things Jewish, my ability to see the bigger picture and make decisions that take into account many variables, and my shy and retiring nature.
Do you have a favorite Jewish teaching?
Many Jewish teachings are my favorites: Mikol melamdai hiskalti, mitalmidai yoter mikulam (I have learned from all my teachers, from my students most of all); chanoch lana’ar al pi darko (educate a child according to his path); baderekh she-adam rotzeh leilekh molikhim oto (On the way a person wants to go, there he is led).
My current favorite is this:
There is a blessing that is said before the recitation of Birkat Kohanim (the Priestly Blessing). This brachah says: Blessed are You...who has commanded us to bless the people with “ahavah”—with love. This is really astounding: to be told that the only way the priests can bless the people is to do so with love, and it is the only blessing that has this preamble. And the teaching is, to me a stunning one: the blessing is not a blessing, unless it is said with love.
How very relevant this is to our entire teaching endeavor. We cannot teach, we cannot influence, we cannot instruct, we cannot even bless—unless we do it with love.
That is probably the underpinning of everything I believe in: ahavah ve-simchah, love and joy.♦