A New Year Message

An Introduction, by Hanna Greenberg

“In Israel, where I come from, there are two “Sudbury” schools, and both are thriving.  One is in the heart of the city of Jerusalem, and the other, Kanaf (which means “wings”) is in the Golan Heights, in the North. 

We, at SVS, often exchange our writings with them.  The following is a translation from the New Year’s message that Menachem Goren, a staff member as well as one of the founding staff, of Kanaf sent to their families.  I think it is inspiring, deep and beautiful." 

In September 1994 we celebrated the first (Jewish) New Year in our school.

Today, we are celebrating the New Year for the 24th time, with an apple, a pomegranate, and honey, as is the traditional custom.

We started the year with smiles, with joy, with sparkling eyes, with an abundance of activity, and with an explosion of creative energy in our students, who are privileged to live in a community in which they are responsible for themselves and for the way they conduct their lives.

What wishes should we make for ourselves and for the school community – aspirations that are not often-used cliches?

* that we will continue to meet boredom and to experience the black hole of emptiness – because in this era of increasing leisure time it is essential to learn to welcome boredom with open arms.

* we will learn that it is permissible – and desirable – to make contact with the monsters within us, and we will continue to examine them with care; because in that compressed, repressed and shuttered realm lies the fiery core of our life force.  For it is in places of terror, of emptiness, and of boredom that creativity and action flourish.

* we will know how to observe reality with wide open  eyes, without deluding ourselves and those around us, and without viewing hardships, sorrow, suffering, anger, hatred and enmity through pink glasses; because when we are able to plunge our hands into the fermenting dough of life to overcome fear, boredom and emptiness, we create the opportunity to take responsibility for building a new community and creating a new culture, founded on something that is true, honorable, and whole.

* we will know how not to take ourselves too seriously – and that no matter how strongly we believe in something, our belief doesn’t turn us into gods.

* we will know how to fall, cry, and get up.

* we will find in ourselves the courage to hear what our critics say about us, and the strength to listen to our own inner voice (the most severe of all critics), and nevertheless to find within ourselves the capability to carry on (and, from time to time, to pause for a respite).

* we will enjoy our progress and recognize its dangers; enjoy what is, and know how to let go of things.

* we will, with open ears and a loving, smiling heart, experience fear but never stop creating.  We will talk things over with others and then proceed to act; we will encounter obstacles, barriers, and opposition and, paying them due respect, we will overcome them and continue on our path, all the while remaining aware of the reactions of others around us.

* and perhaps most important of all: that we will be able to find as many occasions as possible to take a deep breath, get off the treadmill, and realize how what we are doing is unique, magical, moving and extraordinary.

* may this year be a good one – interesting, fascinating and enjoyable, at least as much as past years have been.

The views expressed on this page are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Sudbury Valley School.