During the month of February every 5th grader at The Davis Academy will chant Torah for the first time. The “5th Grade Torah Services” are one of my favorite things to be a part of at Davis. There’s nothing quite like dancing a hora with a child after he/she has successfully read from the Torah scroll for the first time.
One of the things I’ve realized through the Torah Service this year is the importance of making memories. Powerful memories do much more than transport us back to a past moment that we’re remembering. They inform our vision of the future. What does that mean?
The kids who are chanting Torah for the first time at The Davis Academy now have a very specific memory. They remember what it feels like to approach the Torah as a prepared, informed, knowledgeable Jew. They can draw on this memory when they become B’nai Mitzvah. They can draw on this memory when their congregational rabbis ask them to chant Torah for Rosh Hashanah. They can draw on this memory when their Hillel community is in need of a Torah reader or when they find themselves in a Jewish community where they might be the only person who knows how to read Torah. And they can draw on this memory when they think about what kind of Jewish education they will one day want for their own children.
The making of memories is powerful not because they help us arrive at a place of nostalgia but because they give us a vision for what future experiences can look like. The kids who are chanting Torah today can be empowered by the knowledge that they need never approach the Torah with anything short of the confidence and preparation that they demonstrated this month.