Friday, September 2, 2011

Shalom Kitah Aleph

When you make aliyah, they don't tell you everything. Not that anyone's hiding information, but people just don't always realize that something Israelis take for granted as common knowledge would be totally new to you. One of those things is called "Shalom Kitah Aleph." On the first day of school, the entire school crowds into the auditorium for a ceremony to welcome the new first graders into school, and it's a big deal. As Rena was teaching, I took off to watch Petachya's Shalom Kita Aleph. To my great surprise, it was quite emotional.
As I watched my son take his first steps into the big world of "real" education, my mind kept flashing back to the moments in his life; his birth in Michigan on Chol Hamoed Pesach, not really that long ago. Aliyah with a very small three year old. I still remember him crying as we would leave him at gan each morning whimpering, "I don't want to go to Hebrew gan...I don't want to go to Hebrew gan..." It would break your heart to walk away, but that's what you had to do. Three months later he would run into gan, already fluent in Hebrew. Just this past week he finally got the hang of riding his bike, just in time to ride to school. It seems that the growth takes place sometimes in leaps, and other time in baby steps. It's still hard to get used to.
All of these thoughts rushed through my head watching my son, a little confused at the commotion, walk through the homemade "Shalom Kitah Aleph" arch on the stage and take his seat. He seemed unsure of himself. Everything is so new - a new school, new uniform, new rules, new learning. He seemed just a little scared, but determined. It would be all right. And indeed it was.
Oh yes, another thought crossed my mind. Watching the Rav Bet Sefer get up and tell the kids a short d'var Torah to the sixty boys and sixty girls in separate first grade classes, all I could think was, "If I lived in Teaneck, this would cost me seventeen thousand dollars a year."