A year of pandemic pivot (2)

One year after Covid-19, communal educational professionals continue to take stock of what was gained, lost and learned over this past unprecedented year. Thus, this week we offer another observation of the way Jewish Day Schools navigated through the pandemic storm.

While the performances of the day schools were not uniformly excellent, they were mostly excellent. GAJE believes it is very important to get this message out to as many parents and newly forming families in our community as possible. For, once Jewish education becomes truly affordable, we hope young families will consider enrolling their children in Jewish education because it is important and valuable for reasons of connection and peoplehood and confident that it is also excellent in its own right.

A number of renowned educators this week collaboratively posted an article on eJewishPhilanthropy’s website entitled “Marking one year of COVID in Jewish education”.

The authors respectively provide Covid-year assessments of various forms of Jewish educational experiences. However, we restrict this update to the observations on Jewish Day Schools by Paul Bernstein, CEO of Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools.

(The full article can be found at:https://ejewishphilanthropy.com/marking-one-year-of-covid-in-jewish-education/)

Bernstein writes what has already been noted and praised by many observers: “Jewish day schools in March 2021 look an awful lot like they did before March 2020. Our schools are still doing what they do best—inspiring and educating our kids, preparing them for a vibrant Jewish future. 

“In many ways, the pandemic has shone a light on the best of Jewish day schools–the trust between schools and families, the passion and dedication of teachers, and the determination of leadership to respond well to the needs of students, faculty, and families.

“In no small part, this is possible because most schools were already “hardwired” for resilience, particularly in the ways they create, cultivate, sustain, and contribute to supportive communities. This takes place on multiple levels: individuals contribute to a vibrant school community; schools themselves are centers of the local Jewish community; and the broader community makes a difference in the life of its schools.

“More broadly, in the past year we have seen the way schools and the other Jewish institutions in their area have bonded together and made sure all members are supported, emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually.

“The achievements of the past year and the return of so many schools to in-person or hybrid learning…directly result from what existed in Jewish day schools long before we ever heard of COVID. Awareness of the power of community and investing in that key capacity—for individuals, for the school, and more broadly—has deepened schools’ core capacity for resilience.”

Bernstein’s observations are succinct and true for the day schools of the GTA.

We should offer praise and give thanks where they are due.

•••

Be safe. Be well. Shabbat shalom. 

GAJE, March 12, 2021

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