I write my last newsletter with a sense of sadness and nostalgia as my time as College Principal nears an end. In doing so, the words of Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks echo strongly for me when he writes,
“Long ago the Jewish people came to the conclusion that to defend a country you need an army. But to defend a civilization you need schools. The single most important social institution is the place where we hand on our values to the next generation – where we tell our children where we’ve come from, what ideals we fought for, and what we learned on the way. Schools are where we make children our partners in the long and open-ended task of making a more gracious world.”Optimism to Hope (2004, p.131).
Over the past 12 years, my understanding of Moriah College as a social institution – one that is greater than an educational institution in and of itself – has grown enormously. Where a school serves a purpose greater than just educating young people and, rather, graduating well-rounded citizens with a robust Jewish identity and moral foundation rooted in the Torah, traditions, and teachings of its people, the enormity of the task can almost appear overwhelming, if not beyond reach. Moriah College is tasked with the responsibility of transmitting the traditions, values, and teachings of modern orthodoxy from generation to generation, the continuity of the ‘people of the book’, and cultivating a thriving diaspora community in a world increasingly seduced by secularism, pluralism, and moral relativity. However, we can, like the many generations before us, take great solace in the words of the ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot, 2:21), “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”
During my tenure at the College, I have often stood in awe of the community’s deep commitment to the College’s mission, never desisting from the task at hand or becoming overwhelmed by the quintessential nature of its purpose and the tides of change that can work against it. In fact, quite the opposite. I have had the enormous honour of working alongside and partnering with educators, staff, parents, students, board members, grandparents, and community members who are deeply passionate, unfathomably resilient, and firmly committed to the success of the school, its future, and its mission. I thank each of you for the inspiration, challenge, and support you have given me and for always demanding we continue to grow, excel and improve in all that we do to achieve our mission.
Moriah is a school that unequivocally values academic excellence, understanding that this springs from a firm commitment to the holistic development of each child and providing many pathways for progress, achievement, and growth. The word excellence itself finds its roots in the Latin word “excellentem”, meaning to surpass, rise high and tower above. There is no doubt that my own personal experience and growth at the College have surpassed all other experiences and, more importantly, that the College continues to rise high and tower above as a place of learning, personal growth, and development. Every student can excel, regardless of attributed capacity or ability, and I have seen many who have surpassed our expectations and risen high with sustained effort, commitment and the unwavering belief and support of their parents and those who walk alongside them. The College will continue to soar upwards if it continues to honour its heritage and tradition of excellence, while also recognising the need to embrace innovation and change in a world with many shifting paradigms.
On Thursday this week, our Year 12 students will receive their HSC results. We wish them b’hatzlacha and every success for a bright and promising future.
May the forthcoming holidays be an opportunity for all our families, staff and students to enjoy a well-deserved rest after a hectic and busy 2018.
About the Author
John Hamey leaves Moriah College after 12 years in a variety of leadership roles, the past seven as College Principal.
He has served the College with distinction and exemplary educational vision as College Principal and prior to that, as Deputy Principal, Head of High School, and Acting College Principal.
He has been a driving force in establishing programs and practices that support inclusion and diversity and personalised and engaged learning, setting a solid foundation for our continued strong performance and success as a leading educational and communal organisation.
John’s leadership fostered a school culture that values both excellence and growth, and he has been instrumental in developing a learning framework that meets the changing educational needs of our students.
John is a strong advocate for prioritising Jewish Life & Learning programs that enrich each student’s experience at school, and he has prioritised the development of a first-class sporting program and enhanced Moriah’s commitment to achieving excellence in a range of co-curricular activities.
We wish him a fond farewell and all the best for his own bright and promising future.