As Ricki's class graduated last night from eighth grade, I was filled with gratitude ... and sorrow that this very profitable set-up for Ricki is coming to an end. I wrote a "bleesing" for her class's commencement. These are my thoughts:
You are standing today at the finish of eight years of work, tests, and studies. And not just math, geography, and grammer, but also the "kodesh" studies: Bible, prophets, Jewish Law. And the ultimate goal is that we should know how to live our lives as modest G-d fearing Jewish women.
Three years ago, one of the classes at this school obtained a special priveledge (as did, to a lesser extent, the other parralel classes)- the opportunity to emulate the Divine attributes, by helping one who is weaker, seeing the spark of divinity hidden in each soul, and giving of one's time, yet demanding proper behavior without excuses.
And I KNOW, it was not always easy.
But you rose to the challenge with all your heart. You did the "non-standard". You took the diamond from the dust and placed it in the crown of "girls of XXX school".
I am eaqually sure that you gained from this experience. Surely you learned that while each person has his drawbacks, he also has his good side, his talents, and his sucesses.
Every person was created in the image of G-d.
It is oh so very easy for us to label others and judge them, but we can see here that each and every person is unique, and is MUCH more than his "label" tells us about him. And here I am not speaking only of those with intellectual disabilities, but of each and every human being, even if it is the aunt we don't exactly get along with, the brother we consider "too modern", ... or even ourselves. We sometimes even catch ourselves viewing our abilities through the prisim of judgments to us by others.
Yes, we ourselves were created in the image of G-d!This means that our spritual horizons are nearly limitless. What an astounding opportunity! Yet this places upon us expectations to rise to that opportunity.
So, dear students, as you graduate, take with you this view of yourself and others, that you are all created with a divine spark within, and take with you the attibutes of kindness that you have practiced here. And may these guide you towards the future.
(After this I add a paragraph thanking the school, etc.)