Forward Together: Choosing Optimism!

Dr. Darin S. Katz February 5, 2023

Each year on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, one of my Rabbis in Philadelphia would tell the following short story:

Once there were five-year-old twin children - one a pessimist and the other an optimist. Wondering how two children who seemed so alike could be so different, their parents took them to a psychologist. The psychologist took the pessimist to a room piled high with new toys, expecting the pessimistic child to be thrilled, but instead, he burst into tears. Puzzled, the psychologist asked, “Don’t you want to play with these toys?” “Yes,” the little child bawled, “but if I did I’d only break them.” Next, the psychologist took the optimist to a room piled high with horse manure. The child yelped with delight, clambered to the top of the pile, and joyfully dug out scoop after scoop, tossing the manure into the air with glee. “What on earth are you doing?” the psychologist asked. “Well,” said the child, beaming, “There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”

I loved hearing this simple story each year. While the second child could have easily started crying after seeing the pile of manure, he chose to be optimistic, believing that the manure came from a beautiful pony. Choosing optimism is powerful, giving us agency in how we solve a problem or approach life in general.

And that is exactly how we at Hillel have been operating for the past eighteen months. At every point during the pandemic, we hit the ground running, choosing to be optimistic about the future, no matter how dark the outside world may have been. We remained laser focused on delivering a program that allowed Hillel students to grow academically, socially, emotionally, and Jewishly. Our Core Values guided our decisions and learning never stopped. Our constant commitment to creating a positive and optimistic environment for Hillel students and staff has helped us all weather the storms of the past year and a half.

While we could have locked ourselves away waiting for the pandemic to pass or looking for the next crisis, we relied on each other, our community, to move Forward Together. Instead of fearing the unknown, we faced it and embraced the pandemic’s silver linings. Instead of being disheartened by masks, we saw the twinkle in our students’ eyes and imagined their beautiful smiles. 

As we move into the next phase of this current reality, Hillel has embraced this sense of unbridled optimism and it has framed our choice of this year’s Annual Fund theme - “Forward Together - ביחד קדימה - B'yachad Kadima.”  

We are a people of hope and optimism and I am confident that we will continue to inspire a passion for learning, responsibility to self and community, and a devotion to Jewish living, no matter the challenges we face. I encourage you to please give generously to this year’s Annual Fund so we may continue to instill hope, optimism, and enthusiasm in our students for years to come, no matter the obstacles in their path. 

Like we have done for the past sixty four years, we will keep moving Forward Together knowing that together, we can do so much.

Learn About Our  2021-2022 School Year!
Picture of Dr. Darin S. Katz

Dr. Darin S. Katz

Dr. Darin S. Katz is Head of School at Hillel Day School.