Today is the first day of classes here at Oberlin College. First year students have a look of excitment painted on their faces, and maybe a little confusion too. The returning upperclassmen have already eased back into college life; old friends, comfy surroundings, busy schedules, and even the cramped dorms.
Just about a month ago my son, Yanky, celebrated his 3rd birthday. Now each and every birthday is special, but the 3rd birthday is extra special. Yanky, according to Chassidic custom, received his very first haircut. in between the cutting of the hair locks Yanky sang selected versus from the Torah and recited the aleph-bet, the Hebrew alphabet as a formal commencement of his education. This ceremony is known as an upshernish.
The entire evening was inspiring, but the aleph-bet reading is particularly moving. Had a sheet of laminated paper with the letter of the aleph-bet coated in honey. Each time Yanky would say a letter from the alphabet he would dip his finger into the sticky sweetness and lick the honey off the letter. This is done to give him the blessing that his learning throughout life should always be filled with goodness and sweetness.
Yanky's education is and will be far greater than reading the Hebrew alphabet and licking honey, and for a college student, their education is far more than their academic experience within a classroom. The time in college is ripe to explore and expand ones learning spiritually, materially, socially, philosophically, and scholarly. We invite all of you, regardless of religion or belief to come and learn, discuss, challenge ideas, and grow together with us.
We wish all students, both of the College and of life a year filled with sweet morsals of learning and growth.