Contributed by Rabbi Mendy Greenberg, Mat-Su Jewish Center
As the Jewish people prepare for the holiday of Passover, commemorating the exodus from Egypt, I would like to touch upon on an interesting phenomena which we find when reading the biblical narrative of the story of exodus.
Just after leaving Egypt, Moses gathered the Israelites and spoke to them, not of the promised land or the long walk ahead, but rather he spoke of the duty of parents to educate their children and repeatedly spoke similar messages until his final days. Why the obsession with education? Because to defend a country we need a strong army, but to defend a civilization we need good schools.
The great leader and teacher, the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, taught that every individual, and in fact, every individual action, has an impact on the entire universe. The Rebbe emphasized the importance of education and good character, and instilled the hope for a brighter future into the lives of countless people in America and across the globe.
Especially now with the most recent horrific events that shook us to the core, I think that there may be one idea that can resonate with us all, that which the Rebbe taught, that education, in general, should not be limited to the acquisition of knowledge and preparation for a career, rather the educational system should pay more attention, indeed the main attention, to the building of character. He found it important that we educate with an emphasis on the moral and ethical values that are the bedrock of society from the dawn of civilization, when they were known as the Seven Noahide Laws, which have often been cited as a guarantee of fundamental human rights.
On Tuesday, March 27th, Americans will once again be marking Education & Sharing Day, USA. This day was established by the United States Congress in 1979 and signed by the president each year on the Rebbe’s birth date, in tribute to his commitment to teaching the next generation of Americans the values that make our country strong.
This day provides Americans the opportunity to pause and recognize our responsibility to ensure that our young people have the foundation necessary to lead lives rich in purpose and fulfilment.
On Monday, March 12th, at the Wasilla City Council meeting, and on Tuesday, March 13th, at the Palmer City Council meeting, Mayors, Bert Cottle and Edna DeVries, both signed and read proclamations declaring Tuesday, March 27th as Education and Sharing Day.
Next week, Tuesday, March 20th, at the assembly meeting of the Mat-Su Borough, Mayor Vern Halter will declare the Education and Sharing Day for the entire Borough. This day will also be celebrated by the Mat-Su School District, directed by Superintendent Dr. Monica Goyette.
By recognizing this day as Education and Sharing day by our school district and local government, it is a call to all citizens of the Mat-Su Borough to reflect on the vital role of education in preparing our youth to be the leaders of tomorrow, with an emphasis on inspiring them of their moral and ethical obligation to serve a cause greater than self and by the anchor of virtues, including courage and compassion.
I am very proud of the resolve of our community leaders to instill in the young minds and hearts of our children, the empowering message that one act of goodness and kindness can tip the scales to usher in an era of world peace.
May the Mat-Su Valley serve as a beacon of light for all people of all walks of life.