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When parents are contemplating Brawerman as a school for their child, we tell them about the dedication of our teachers and the academic foundation they’ll receive. We walk them into the beautiful gymnasium or onto the rooftop athletic complex and have them greet our coaches who will instill sportsmanship in their children. We also show them specialist classrooms, art studios, technology and innovation labs, and explain how exposing them to these creative arts will prepare them for 21st-century jobs that don’t even exist yet. But if there’s one thing above all that we promise as a school, it’s that we make mensches. 

Our commitment to instilling the values of integrity, kindness, and honor come before anything we teach in a textbook. So, when we travel to Israel with our soon-to-be graduates, we’re more than happy to hear them recall historical facts they’ve acquired throughout their seven years at Brawerman. But the most profound and lasting impression they can make is when they put others first. Picking up a bag that was left behind, helping a classmate who loses their footing while hiking down Masada, making room for another seat at the breakfast or dinner table aren’t checklist items on a report card or a multiple-choice question on a standardized test, but they are what truly matters. 

With this in mind, we began our day in Tel Aviv heading south to the Jaffa Institute, an organization that prepares boxes of food for those in Israel suffering from food scarcity. The volunteer who greeted our students explained that in addition to distributing canned goods, their intention is to give dignity to each person who walks through their doors. With smiles on our faces and humbled hearts, our students formed an assembly line to pack boxes of food for people they would never meet. So, just as they planted trees whose shade they will never enjoy, our students honorably helped to provide for human beings they most likely will never know. Our host was so impressed, she wrote us an email commenting on the character of the students and the importance of the work our delegates shared in. 

From there we headed to the Ayalon Institute, better known as the bullet factory, to learn how others before them selflessly prepared ammunition, risking their own lives, to quite literally empower soldiers. Their efforts supported the Independence war, which gave the State of Israel its sovereignty and freedom. 

To end our evening, we made our way to Sarona Market, a modern shopping mall and eatery; we explored and enjoyed dinner from a variety of restaurants. In the morning we took a short bus ride to David Yellin, an elementary school just outside Tel Aviv that we’ve partnered with for years. Following our hosts’ greetings and a ceremony, the American delegates and Israeli students made fast friends. Laughter came easily, basketball and soccer games began, music was played, and dancing ensued. In just a few hours, complete strangers became best friends. 

These truly magical moments are now indelible memories in the minds and hearts of our students. Many of their older siblings paved the way, building meaningful relationships in years past, and because of their open hearts and loving spirit, they too have now extended the opportunity of connection for those who are yet to come. This is what matters. Not an exchanged phone number or another Instagram follower, but a friend who feels more like family who says without words, you belong

Welcome home.