So far, the school year that promised to be like no other has not disappointed! The first days of school have been filled with many adjustments — to new routines and new procedures, and to wearing masks throughout the day. Indeed, our students are reacquainting themselves with school for the first time in six months.
And yet, the atmosphere in our buildings has been fantastic. The teachers have welcomed the children with smiles (through masks!), warmth, love and enthusiasm. The students are accepting the limitations of COVID-precautions with patience and understanding. And you, the parents, have been so supportive — adhering to all the new safety procedures and encouraging your children as they return to in-school learning.
Even in the midst of all the drop-off excitement, hand-washing and PPE procurement, a moment I experienced on Friday made me stop and consider how wonderful it is to be back in school. For the first time this year, our Himel Branch Principal, Beverley Young, held the PA microphone to make morning announcements. She explained to the children how we would be playing one anthem each morning, and how they mustn’t sing out loud but rather enthusiastically – yet silently – in their own heads. I thought to myself how this encapsulated the peculiarities of a school day during a pandemic.
And then, Hatikvah began to play.
A rush of warmth and familiarity hit me. I realized that I hadn’t heard the anthem for half a year. What had been part of my daily life, and the lives of our Bialik community, had been missing for so long. I have heard the Israeli anthem thousands of times in my life, but this time was somehow different. The anthem refers to the return to Israel after 2,000 years of exile. The “exile” from our Bialik buildings was, thankfully, shorter, but it felt like our return was momentous nonetheless. After six months our halls and classrooms were full with children, once again.
The theme of Hatikvah — hope — is so appropriate for us at this moment in our lives. We are all experiencing “COVID fatigue” to some degree, coping with the pandemic realities with no clear end in sight. And now, with Rosh HaShanah approaching, we are contemplating a very different kind of holiday, kept apart from the communities and family with whom we usually celebrate. But Hatikvah — the hope for a better tomorrow — reminds us to stay optimistic, and to recognize the wonder of Bialik classrooms and schoolyards, where children are learning and playing once again!
Please accept my wishes for a Shana Tova for you and your families. May we all enjoy a year filled with sweetness, good health and hope.
שנה טובה ומתוקה
Head of School