Dr. Hochman's Letter to the Gann Community
Dear Members of the Gann Academy Community,
I am humbled, honored, and excited to join Gann Academy as its third Head of School. Gann has an extraordinary reputation that extends far beyond Boston, and I look forward to supporting and strengthening the vision that Rabbi Daniel Lehmann, Rabbi Marc Baker, and the entire Gann faculty and staff have so beautifully pursued.
As a product of the Boston Jewish community and the recipient of a strong Jewish education, I am thrilled to be returning home to invest in the next generation of leaders in our community. I am eager to share my love of Jewish life, my personal connection to Israel, and my respect for pluralism inside and outside of the Gann community.
As Scott Cohen, president of Gann Academy's Board of Trustees, mentioned in the board announcement
, I have spent the entirety of my professional career working in education, mostly at the high school level. I have had the good fortune of working with many of the nation’s most innovative and successful academic models, and, as a result, I am able to appreciate how remarkable Gann is as a school. It is rare anywhere in the high school world to walk the halls and witness academic excellence, personal development, intentional religious pluralism, and happy kids. This speaks volumes to the dedication of the teachers and leaders that have built Gann, and I am looking forward to bringing what I know from other educational settings to build on Gann’s excellence. Those of us who choose to work in education are lifelong learners; I am most of all eager to learn with and from all of you.
The Talmud perfectly captures my beliefs about teaching and learning. Many of us have heard about the famous rivalry between the schools of Rabbi Hillel and Rabbi Shammai. In the Tractate of Eruvin
, a Bat Kol
or “heavenly voice” appears to resolve the dispute; the voice announces that “both these and those are the words of the living G-d but the Jewish law is in accordance with the School of Hillel.” The text goes on to explain that members of the School of Hillel were “agreeable and forbearing, showing restraint when affronted, and when they taught the Jewish law, they would state both their own statements and the statements of the School of Shammai.”
The teaching in Eruvin
is quite relevant today, as we try to make sense of our complex 21st-century lives. And the message for our students — and for ourselves — is profound: When we are open to new opinions, we gain a broader perspective and see complexities that we might have otherwise missed. When we carefully consider opposing views, we allow for the possibility that our own opinions may lack sensitivity, scholarship, or humility.
It has become abundantly clear to me that Gann Academy shares many of the same virtues with the School of Rabbi Hillel. Gann is a place where students are proud of who they are but are also eager to examine, reconsider, and look at the world through multiple lenses. Thanks to the extraordinary talents of Gann’s faculty and staff, students learn how to embrace difference while developing their own proud identities as Jews, as Americans, and as global citizens. Now, more than ever, we need intellectually confident, passionately engaged, ethically responsible graduates who will create a vibrant Jewish future and build a better world where human dignity will flourish. That’s Gann’s mission, and I can’t wait to play a role in helping to further that mission.
I am looking forward to beginning what I hope will be a much longer, deeper conversation with each of you when I officially start my position at Gann on July 1, 2019. Until then, I wish you a rich and productive school year.
Dr. Dalia Hochman