The Tears My Father Cried

By Alisha Abboudi

I’ve seen my father cry several times in my life; when he lost his mom, on my wedding day and when my mom passed away. The first time that I saw my father cry, I was in 3rd grade. On that day I was leaving my classroom to go to the lunchroom when I saw my dad leaving the principal’s office. He was shaking hands and then hugging the principal in parting. It was obvious to me that he had been crying.

I don’t think I understood at the moment, yet I would later learn, that this was one of many annual visits he would make over the course of my Jewish Day School experience when the time would come each spring to register me for the next academic year. He had been meeting with the principal and executive director that day to ask for financial assistance.

There is no doubt that the tears my father shed formed the person I would become. The leadership roles I took in high school and college, the community and school lay leadership I would assume, and my professional position on the development team of a Jewish college, each are a direct result of those tears. Those tears, in fact, represent the investment that we all make each day in our children and in their Jewish education.

Investments come in all forms. Sometimes it’s the tuition checks we write and sometimes it’s the financial aid forms we fill out. Sometimes it’s the conversations we have with our children about their educational experiences, and sometimes it’s the conversations our children overhear us having. Sometimes investment is found in the courage of a day school leader, who in order to preserve our heritage-steeped-in-tradition while educating towards tomorrow, encourages his faculty to dare greatly by asking, “What if?”

At the North American Jewish Day School Conference earlier this week, I witnessed the investment of 1,000-day school educators, administrators, lay leaders and funders. I witnessed conversations forming everywhere and anywhere – from early in the morning to late into the evening over the course of 3 days. I attended the conference wearing several hats, not the least of which was my parent hat. It is with this hat on that I extend my deepest gratitude to all of my incredibly invested Jewish Day School partners who traveled, gave up family time and likely put pressing work on the back burner. You invested in yourselves, you invested in each other and you invested in my children.

Investments come in all forms and I thank you personally and deeply once again – as I wish us all the bracha of a return on investment whose value is beyond measure.

Alisha Abboudi is a Mid-Career Fellow in Gratz College’s Master’s in Jewish Communal Service and Nonprofit Management and is a professional member of the Gratz development team. A self-described Jewish Service Junkie she is most passionate about Jewish Day School sustainability and affordability, lives in Merion, PA with her husband and children for now … Aliyah coming soon.