Jewish Journal


March 21, 2013

A Teacher’s Mistake



By M. Alexander

In any job, no matter how passion-infused it may be, work can sometimes begin to feel monotonous.  Though I usually love my job, I am certainly not exempt from fleeting thoughts of pointlessness. But every time these thoughts begin to achieve any clout, something happens that reminds me of why I speak to kids, reinforcing the importance of my work.  Last week, I encountered a student who seemed particularly interested in the concept of t’shuvah.

The student asked, “Is change really possible?”

As this is one of our primary messages, we shared our own stories of redemption and we talked about the Jewish teachings concerning t’shuvah.  The student was overcome with relief, as he told us the rationale behind his curiosity.  One of his teachers had just told him that he could not go on the school-sponsored trip to Israel later this year.

The teacher said, “You’re disruptive in class.  If you’re bad now, you will always be bad.”

While the student may have been hyperbolizing his teacher’s statement, this is the message that he received.  This ideology is exactly what we are trying to combat.  We believe in the redemption of the human soul, we believe that we were all born with an elohai neshama and that if we make the necessary effort and have the requisite courage, we all have the ability to change and achieve redemption.  Our teachers and our parents need to join us in this battle, assisting students in their journey to become the best versions of themselves, so that they can be just a little bit better than they were yesterday.

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