Dear Teacher,

I’m only in the 5th grade, and you aren’t even my teacher.  But you taught me something that I’ll probably remember for a long time.  

I don’t think you saw me watching when you fell in the cafeteria.  I was eating my lunch with my friends, and some water must have spilled near the sinks, because you slid right across the floor and fell with an embarrassing thud.

All the teachers rushed around to see if you were OK.  I looked away, ashamed to see a grown-up fall like a regular kid.

And then, as you got up, I heard you say a phrase I’d never heard before: “It should be a kapparah.”

Now, I knew the word “kapparah.”  That means “atonement.”  I thought hard about what you said, and realized that you were taking your embarrassment and your hurt, and saying that you hoped, and prayed, sort of, too, that God would take it and use it to erase something wrong that you had once done.  Maybe something by mistake.  Or maybe something on purpose? 

I didn’t know grown-ups did things wrong on purpose.  Especially you.  You’re such a good person.  But my mother told me once that nobody’s perfect.  Only God is perfect.  So I guess that’s what you meant.

Anyway, I thought that was a really neat way of dealing with what happened to you.  Maybe I’ll copy that when something wrong happens to me that I can’t fix or change.  And maybe I’ll take it with me for when I become a grown-up.

So I just wanted to say thank you for that.  It changed the way I think and really helped me.


Rochel Indich, 1985
5th grader at the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland