By Rabbi N. Aaron Kutnowski & Mrs. Avi Meyers
(Calgary) – As students from the Calgary Jewish Academy (CJA) and Halpern Akiva Academy (HAA) gathered together for Tashlich, Mrs. Avi Meyers expressed her reflections on this event. “We are standing together at a very unique moment in time. We, the CJA and HAA, are standing together in a joint Tashlich program. This unity is emblematic of this time of year, and we are showing Hashem we are one Kehillah – one people.”
Several months prior to this gathering, Mrs. Avi Meyers and Rabbi Nachum Aaron Kutnowski had stood side by side at a community event. Mrs. Meyers and Rabbi Kutnowski had connected through both being the Heads of Judaic Studies at their respective schools and a shared bond of each moving to Calgary from a different community. Rabbi Kutnowski shared his fresh perspectives as a “newcomer” to Halpern Akiva Academy and the Calgary community. As the two delved deeper in conversation, the concept of joint events between the two Jewish day schools in Calgary began to take shape. Both Mrs. Meyers and Rabbi Kutnowski were eager to collaborate.
The two wanted the first collaboration of this reinvigorated bond to be meaningful and memorable. Through a series of email exchanges, both Mrs. Meyers and Rabbi Kutnowski agreed that a Tashlich gathering would provide an ideal platform for the two schools to come together.
With a shared vision in mind, both institutions returned to the drawing board to outline the framework for the Tashlich program. Under the guidance of Morah Nechama Rassin, Director of Programming at HAA, a comprehensive schedule was crafted. Morah Nechama shared her vision, stating, ” I thought it would be really nice if there was a way to experientially explore the concept of ‘Teshuvah, Tefillah and Tzedakah’ (Repentance, Prayer and Charity – a commitment we make on Rosh Hashanah) at the Tashlich program.”
Given CJA’s proximity to the Glenmore Reservoir, HAA arranged for a bus to transport the students to the Beth Tzedec parking lot. From there, both schools embarked on a one-kilometer journey together, culminating at the reservoir’s edge. This was done to uphold the tradition of being near a body of water when reciting the Tashlich prayer.
Following the walk, Rabbi Kutnowski led the students in the traditional Tashlich prayer, after which HAA and CJA students engaged in two interactive games that emphasized the values of Teshuvah and Tzedakah.
The collaborative Tashlich program left a profound impression on both students and educators, demonstrating the transformative power of unity in upholding shared values and nurturing spiritual growth. This remarkable partnership between the Calgary Jewish Academy and Halpern Akiva Academy stands as a testament to the strength of unity within the Calgary Jewish community.