First days of school are always nerve wracking and exciting. In my middle and high school, there was a tradition on the first day. The senior class would line up in front of the school. Every single student and faculty member would walk down the line shaking the hands of each senior. We would gather as a school community and the headmaster would explain the history behind the handshake. The popular theory goes that by extending your empty right hand, a stranger could show that they were not holding weapons and bore no ill will toward one another. Another explanation is that the handshake was a symbol of good faith when making an oath or promise. When we clasp hands, we show that our word is a sacred bond.
This morning, we welcomed our students back to school at Sinai Akiba Academy. The kindergarteners walked in first, but they were not alone. Our seniors, our 8th graders, clasped their hands, welcoming them into their new home. Our 7th graders held tallitot above their head, showing them the learning they will do is under the Sinai sacred canopy.
Every morning of the month of Elul, we recite Psalm 27. We read, “One thing I ask of God is to live in God’s house all the days of my life.” The Rabbis expound this to mean that every day we should investigate God’s mitzvot and find the pleasantness of Torah.
We are inching closer to the High Holy Days. Put out your hand to another. Clasp the other hand. Demonstrate a sacred bond. For when we do, we will each dwell in the house of God.