COVID-19 · Jewish · post-op life · slice of life

Bringing Hebrew School to the Home #SOL20

I’ve never told Isabelle this — and probably shouldn’t admit to this in writing — but I dislike having our weekends disrupted by Hebrew School. There, I said it. (But, so help me G-d, I won’t admit this to my children… so don’t say a word to my kids if you know us in real life!)

Isabelle attended a Jewish day school (for Kindergarten – second grade) where half of the school day was secular studies and the other half of the day was Hebrew and Judaics. Now that she’s in public school and in third grade, Isabelle attends Hebrew school two days a week (i.e., Wednesday afternoons and Sunday mornings) in preparation for her Bat Mitzvah. She’s bitter about Wednedsay afternoons since she’s tired after a full day of school. I’m bitter about Sunday mornings since having a required activity every Sunday morning breaks up the flow of our weekend. No longer can we have leisurely Sunday mornings where we “sleep in” until 7:30 and then Marc takes the kids to breakfast. Nope. We have to get the kids up early to get to Hebrew School on-time on Sunday mornings.

Last Sunday morning, our synagogue canceled Hebrew School due to our Governor’s statewide school closure. I’ll admit, it was kind of nice to have a Sunday morning with no where to go.

I should be careful about what I wish for since we’ve had no where to go all week long!

Therefore, I was thrilled (Yes, thrilled!) when I received a mid-week communication that Hebrew School was going to be virtual today. The schedule was:

  • 10:00 – 10:45 a.m.: Q&A with the Rabbi for the Younger Kids
  • 10:45 – 11:00 a.m.: Song Session for All Students
  • 11:00 – 11:45 a.m.: Q&A with the Rabbi for the Older Students

While it wasn’t scheduled for as long as religious school typically is, I was happy my children would have a chance to connect with their teachers and classmates.

This morning, Ari and I signed on first. Initially, Ari was excited to see the Rabbi and the faces of some of his classmates. (One of his friend’s moms texted us to say her daughter was excited to see Ari. We sent a video message back.) We raised our hand in Zoom and Ari asked the Rabbi a question. Things seemed to be going along well, but then Ari decided he wanted to go for a walk. He was sent back by a grandparent, which led to him sitting reluctantly for five more minutes before departing again. I let him go since I’m in no position to chase after him.

Isabelle arrived at 10:45 a.m. for the song session, which was beautiful. Everyone was muted so we were able to hear the song leader’s voice and guitar while we sang together. Eventually, Isabelle began playing around with Zoom so she could see who else was on the Zoom call during the Q&A. She wasn’t brave enough to ask a question, but she listened respectfully.

I think our synagogue’s leadership is trying to determine how cyber Hebrew School is going to look. Despite the fact that the two-week moratorium on school expires this Friday, I highly doubt Hebrew School will be running next Sunday. Quite frankly, as long as there’s some kind of programming, I’ll be more than happy for Cyber Hebrew School to continue… though I might not complain about it as much next year if it continues through the end of May. (Let’s be honest, I probably will. NOT having religious school on the weekends was one of the best parts of sending Isabelle to Jewish day school.)

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.org for more slice of life stories.

29 thoughts on “Bringing Hebrew School to the Home #SOL20

  1. Silver linings… I’m glad they are continuing to offer Hebrew school, though I can hardly imagine that any child Ari’s age is going to last long in front of a computer screen. I bet he’s not the only one who wandered off! And I had never considered that it might take a fair amount of courage for a child to ask a question via Zoom. So much for us to learn.

  2. I sometimes feel the same about our Saturday dance classes… when we don’t have class it’s so nice to not have to rush. Ari sounds like Rose. She was so unsure of the Zoom dance class. I had to do a lot of it with her and she was sillier than usual. She disappeared for a bit. These kids are so resilient though. They’ve hardly missed a beat as their world has been turned upside down. For now, enjoy these low key Sundays!

  3. We are all figuring out how to learn and connect in different ways, and yes, there are some relaxing and relieving elements around not having to be places. Enjoy the time and the pace. And we won’t tell your kids until they are good and ready to hear about your Sunday morning sentiments.

  4. Layers and layers to these changes in our day-to-day lives. You describe so well your own ups and downs with your commitment to Hebrew school, that it’s easy to see how this new development could be a boon, if only temporarily. All the best as you continue to navigate the shifts and for your healing process, too.

  5. I love and appreciate your “stunning” confession, Stacey. I am intrigued by how cyber Hebrew school would work. Not sure if I’ve told you this or not but my oldest son was a history major/religion minor in college and while we are not Jewish, he has a great love of all things of the faith. He’s now a minister and Old Testament scholar, furthering his education, currently studying Hebrew. His daughter, age four, moved my husband to tears by singing the Shema (she says she wants to be a “girl preacher” when she grows up). Like you .. I don’t believe any classes will be starting back up soon; maybe there will be success with this format so that in the future … well, one can hope!

  6. I could confess the same feelings about Faith Formation when my kids were little! The Tuesday afternoon classes made for quite a hairy time! What struck the most here, was how excited Ari was to see the Rabbi and his friends. Jess wrote about this when the girls had virtual dance class Saturday morning. They were so excited. Jess keeps talking about how we, public school teachers, can get kids connected all while considering privacy issues. Thanks for sharing! Stay healthy!

  7. Thanks for all the details and insights to your routines and how things have changed now. Your children seem to be coping quite well with all the changes on top of having their mama recovering from an operation!

  8. It is amazing how our society is adjusting so well amid this rampant running virus. That is great that you got a break, sort of, and that Zoom is connecting your kiddos!

  9. It’s incredible how our perspectives change in the face of these situations. I hate going to the grocery store, and my husband really likes it (and is really good at shopping). Now, because he is in a high risk category for this virus, I’m doing all the shopping. I can’t tell you how I look forward to getting out of the house to go get groceries! Enjoy your (more) relaxing Sunday mornings.

  10. I totally appreciate your post. I taught CCD (religious education) from the time my daughter started until my son’s confirmation class. Most years, we had class on Saturday mornings at 8. It was brutal for all of us but doing it with them seemed to make them think we were in it together. I look back on those times with mixed feelings. I am glad we did it; however, I too could have used some down time!

  11. This post made such good sense. I always attended Hebrew school on Tuesday and Thursday after school and Saturday morning services. I think thigs like this help break up the day for kids right now and help them have some routines that are familiar and help us all feel like we can have our normal back some day soon!

    1. Isabelle just asked me, “Is Mo going to doodle again today?” It helps to have things that she expects to happen actually happen. (She adores doodling with Mo each weekday afternoon.)

  12. This reminds me of the old song lyrics “Be careful of what you ask for, ’cause you just might get it!” And you almost never get it exactly like you thought. Best of luck with your new routine.

  13. This post is so honest. What a beautiful twist and comparison. Your secret discontent leading to the special online opportunity along with the photos was precious. I think looking for these unique moments right now is so important.

  14. Aren’t we all a little relieved of this respite from obligatory tasks? Our newly imposed homebound status certainly has me looking more closely at how I structure my day, what is truly important in the grand scheme of things, how this might change future ways of doing things. We’ve operated on a 40 hour work week for so long as a country, yet there are different models elsewhere that show just as much success with a bit more time for creativity and relaxation. Technology, for those of us lucky enough to have access, has certainly been more helpful these days than hurtful, I think. Thanks for this candid post!

    1. To piggy-back off of the 40 hr/week thing…
      So far today, I’ve spent 45 minutes reading aloud with Isabelle, 25 minutes on cursive, 40 minutes on writing, 20 minutes on multiplication, and now she’s been working on a Dot Journal from Peter H. Reynolds. She’ll read independently later for a half hour and then spend the rest of the day doing art and playing games. (No outdoor play here today due to the rain.) I’m okay with that. My feeling is that if the work time is focused and concentrated, she doesn’t need 6.5 hours of instruction as if she were in school.

  15. I totally get what you are talking about! We are used to having church every Sunday morning, so I try very hard to protect out Saturdays. For a while my husband wanted the children in hockey, which started at 7:30 Saturday morning. I felt so annoyed by it every week! I refused to even take them, and made him follow through with this ridiculous, in my opinion, commitment.

    My children are used to using online video communication with our family because everyone is far away from us. I think they’d be okay with asking a question and participating, but I can name at least 10 grade 3 students who would still wander off in the middle of the conversation. It’s a whole new way of communicating for many of them.

  16. Interesting perspective. My son’s usually no-tech school is going to begin online classes after spring break, and I am very curious how he will take it. Given that he usually fidgets and daydreams at school, I expect there will be some walk taking and browsing to see who is there in the Zoom sessions at my house too.

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