Reflections: September 6, 2019


Check out the new and improved Schechter Manhattan website to see the amazing things going on in our special school.  And read on to learn more about the new look of Schechter Manhattan.

I see intersecting waves, splashing against each other, like students moving together towards a shared destination of learning.  I see a color gradient, from lighter to darker blue, like a new idea that becomes gradually more solid. When I look at the new Schechter Manhattan logo I see most prominently a shofar. A shorter curved shofar in blue.  Or a long, multi-colored, twisted shofar.


I am very excited about this new design, reflecting the energy, collaboration, and innovation we see in our classrooms every day. The new look of our logo and our brand-new website convey profound elements of our educational approach: our commitment to students’ growth and development, our cultivation of their abilities to see from multiple perspectives, and a Jewish call that is at the heart of everything we do.

The shofar serves as a powerful Jewish symbol that transcends Rosh Hashana, when it’s sounds are central to the holiday ritual. I believe that the shofar represents some of our core educational and religious aspirations at Schechter Manhattan year round. Rambam, the great scholar and Jewish legal authority who lived in the 12th century in Spain and Egypt, offers an explanation of what the sounds of the shofar signify.

תְּקִיעַת שׁוֹפָר… רֶמֶז יֵשׁ בּוֹ כְּלוֹמַר עוּרוּ יְשֵׁנִים מִשְּׁנַתְכֶם וְנִרְדָּמִים הָקִיצוּ מִתַּרְדֵּמַתְכֶם וְחַפְּשׂוּ בְּמַעֲשֵׂיכֶם וְחִזְרוּ בִּתְשׁוּבָה וְזִכְרוּ בּוֹרַאֲכֶם

The sound of the shofar is symbolic… as if saying, “Arise you sleepers from your sleep!  Awake you slumberers from you slumber! Search your actions, turn in repentance, and remember your Creator.” (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Repentance, 3:4)


For Rambam, the sound of the shofar is awakening.  It raises us out of complacency and calls us to action.  To answer the call of the shofar we start with looking inward and considering our actions. At Schechter Manhattan we help our students practice self-reflection, both in their learning and as human beings.  This חשבון הנפש, cheshbon hanefesh, personal accounting, helps students to identify their strengths and challenges, talents and passions.


To answer the call of the shofar, we take steps to improve ourselves.  At Schechter Manhattan, we expect students to take ownership for their growth and learning.  We help them to set goals they want to accomplish. We ask them to engage with real world problems and design solutions, so that they see how they can turn an imagined better future into reality.  And we do this together, in collaboration with others, so that students learn that everyone is in an ongoing process of self improvement and then develop dispositions of empathy towards others.


To answer the call of the shofar, we seek meaning in our lives.  At Schechter Manhattan, we come together for Jewish living and learning in community, connecting to Jewish heritage and traditions.  Students are urged to think about what their place is in the world, what they believe about God, and how their Jewish identity impacts who they are and who they want to be.


As with most essential questions, there is not one answer to these fundamental considerations of identity.  At Schechter Manhattan, we are enriched by the varied answers and perspectives brought to our community by our students, faculty, parents, trustees, and friends.  Our diverse ideas, talents, and commitments make us such an amazing school.


This commitment to seeing complex ideas from various perspectives was also reflected in the process of developing our new logo.  A diverse group of school leaders, including school staff, educators, trustees, parents, alumni parents, and friends of Schechter Manhattan worked together with a professional graphic design and marketing firm through a collaborative and iterative process.  I am very proud of both the process and product of this work.

As we begin a new school year and in a few weeks a new Jewish year, may we be inspired by our new Schechter Manhattan logo and awakened by the call of the shofar.  May we look inward, through meaningful self reflection, to identify the things we want to change. May we be reminded that we can make repair, and offer our friends, families, colleagues, students, and fellow human beings the opportunity to do the same.  And may we help our students and children develop and practice self-reflection and meaningful connections to their Jewish story, so that they grow into accomplished, menschy, and strongly Jewishly-identified young people, who are poised not only to do well in life, but also to do good in the world.

Shabbat Shalom,

Benjamin Mann
Head of School