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Pesach is Coming!

!שמחה רבה שמחה רבה אביב הגיע פסח בא

Great joy, great joy, spring is here, Pesach is coming!

This classic Pesach song is just one of many that ring through Bialik’s hallways, most years, as Pesach approaches. In fact, we begin hearing these songs almost as soon as the Purim costumes are put away! These holiday tunes and Haggadah melodies crescendo through to our annual model Seders — true highlights of the Bialik calendar.

This year, of course, is different. Singing in school is one more thing the pandemic demands that we do without. Still, throughout this year, we at Bialik have done our best to infuse music into our school environment. Anthems are still played over the PA system in the morning, and recorded Shabbat and holiday songs are heard in our classrooms throughout the day. Most recently, our Kindergarten music teachers have taken to playing Passover songs in a separate room, connecting to the classrooms through Zoom and we’ve enjoyed hearing this joyous music for the past several weeks!

Dayeinu is one of those tunes seemingly on constant repeat, and that got me thinking about the Piyut (liturgical poem) which, as you probably recall, is a chronological list of all the divine favours that our Israelite ancestors enjoyed during the Exodus. As each miracle is noted, the idea is that even if the next one in the line had not come along, it would have been Dayeinu — enough for us.

This has always struck me as somewhat illogical. After all, it’s not really true that it would have been “enough” to be freed from slavery but left stranded between the Egyptian army and the sea. Nor would it have been “enough” to escape to the desert but be left to starve without the mana. We say “Dayeinu” but, in truth, each and every one of those miracles was necessary for the story to conclude happily.

So perhaps the message of Dayeinu serves to focus us on gratitude. Each of those biblical wonders was really the resolution to a daunting challenge. Instead of dwelling on each difficulty, Dayeinu suggests we concentrate on how each one was met and overcome.

In a society so dramatically impacted by COVID-19, we too have faced many challenges as individuals, as families and as a school community. Rather than lamenting these hardships, we can take our cue from Dayeinu and focus on the positive. This year, we might even consider adding some verses that reference more topical points of gratitude: masks that prevent community spread; Zoom sessions that make school and social connections possible; dedicated teachers who care so deeply about our children; and the warmth of our wonderful Bialik community. We really do have a lot for which to be thankful.

Our Israelite ancestors were so relieved to have crossed the sea and escaped slavery that they burst into song — Shirat HaYam. And here we are, 4,000 years later, yearning for the same things — safety (from the virus), freedom (an end to lockdowns), and a chance to sing (in school) again. I am confident that we don’t have much longer to wait, and that the sounds of childrens’ voices raised in song will once again reverberate throughout our school buildings.

!לשנה הבאה בירושלים Next year in Jerusalem!

And next year, singing and celebrating with our loved ones in a post-pandemic world.


Chag Same’ach!

Benjy Cohen

Head of School