/SPECIAL FOR THE AJT /

On Tuesday morning, Jan. 27 The Davis Academy eighth grade joined with their counterparts at The Marist School for the culmination of a series of meetings focused on interfaith dialogue, understanding, and community service.

Blissfully unaware of what Tuesday afternoon would bring to the greater Atlanta area, students from the two schools spent the morning volunteering at Books for Africa, The Atlanta Community Food Bank, Medshare, as well as at The Davis Academy.

In a few short hours they processed more than 6,000 pounds of food, 16,000 pounds of books, and 2,500 pounds of medical supplies. They prepared more than 700 sandwiches for Project Open Hand, wrote more than 500 get well, holiday, and birthday cards for area nursing homes, and jointly painted a prayer canvas with both schools’ logos that will help line the route of the upcoming Boston Marathon.

A day that engaged students in the kind of learning that, to paraphrase Haim Ginott, makes us “more human.” Or as we put it at Davis, a day of menschlichkeit.

As students and teachers boarded their busses to return from their various service project locations, the first flurries of snow were falling.

Over the last couple of days, members of The Davis Academy administration have been privileged to hear some of the many stories of our community members: students helping to warm stranded motorists with cups of tea, and families opening their homes to strangers who simply needed to make a phone call or use the restroom.

There were alumni who provided emergency medical services to individuals who were cut off from emergency vehicles. Teachers who spent the evening pushing cars up hills. From every corner of our community, we have heard tales of selflessness, compassion, and bravery. We have been sacred witnesses to indescribable acts of menschlichkeit.

“To be sure, Davis Academy students, families, alumni, and teachers weren’t the only heroes on the streets in recent days,” said Rabbi Micah Lapidus, Davis Academy’s Director of Judaic and Hebrew Studies. “But upon reflection, it cannot be denied that our kehilah instinctively knew that action was required and responded in kind. We knew that the extraordinary circumstances required us to think not only of ourselves, but also of others.

“We answered Rabbi Hillel’s 2,000-year-old question, ‘If I am only for myself, what I am?’ We are helping students to become leaders and mensches who see in their fellow human beings an ethical obligation—to care, to help, and to honor.”