The Value of Chesed

I was a student at SAR from Kindergarten through 12th Grade. I had many teachers over the 13 years that have taught me many valuable lessons and have helped shape me into the person I am today. But when I reflect back on my time at SAR, one teacher stands out to me. Morah Rita-Rivkah Lewy was my teacher in K-3 in 2006-2007. I remember having the privilege to go to her house once for Shabbos because my parents won it for me at an auction. On our way back from school, Morah Rita insisted on us stopping to drop off clothing to be donated before Shabbos because we had to enter Shabbos with an act of Chesed. I remember the birthday parties we used to throw for each other, the funeral that we had for a bird that smashed into our classroom window and the Pesach Seder where we made pillow cases with our footprints on it. I still have my pillow case and use it every year at our Pesach Seder.

Starting from the age of 7, through being in Morah Rita's class, we were taught the value of Chesed and putting the needs of others before our own. We learned firsthand what it means to have a mindset of Chesed and live a life of Chesed and this middah is one that I continue to include into my day every day. Even after graduating to the "big building," I would go back to Morah Rita's class at least once a year. Whether it was to celebrate getting my Siddur and Chumash, or just to say hi, Morah Rita would always be there with a warm smile and hug that made you feel like you were the most important person in the world. Whenever I would visit, Morah Rita would stop whatever she was doing to introduce me to that year's class.

Morah Rita then made Aliyah and I wasn't sure when I was going to see her next. Turns out, I had a free Shabbos from Seminary last year and I figured I would reach out to Morah Rita via Facebook messenger. I spent Shabbos with her and her husband in Chomat Shmuel and it was so special to reunite after so many years. Entering her home in Israel, I was greeted with the same warmth and hugs that I had entering her home in Teaneck or her classroom in SAR. Now, being back in Israel for winter break, I am spending 3 nights of my trip with her. I feel so lucky to be able to have had Morah Rita. Not many college students can say that they are still in touch and have a real relationship with their Kindergarten teacher. My friends at school are very jealous and find it to be a unique situation that I do not take for granted.

I am so grateful to SAR that they placed me in K-3 because it started me on an incredible journey. Thank you SAR for providing me with a really special teacher that formally and informally taught me a tremendous amount about the value of Chesed, Hachnasat Orchim and treating everyone with kindness.