Being Apart, Together

Last week, we launched EHSBabayit – our remote learning program. Friday was our first virtual kabbalat shabbat, and truth be told, I was nervous about how it would go. I got out the candles, poured the grape juice, and got challah out of our freezer. Everything was set up in our finished attic which has morphed into my new at home office. I don’t think I have been that nervous since my very first all school kabbalat shabbat five years ago. Yet, as each little face popped up onto my computer screen, the nerves melted away. Everyone was so happy to see each other, and I was filled with joy wishing each student shabbat shalom

We had students, teachers, parents, and dogs all smiling and giggling as we greeted one another. Just seeing each other in the comfort of our homes drew us closer. Some children sang and danced as we welcomed shabbat. When the time came to share a few words of Torah, this week’s parsha couldn’t have been a better fit. In Vayakhel/Pekudai,  we learn that Moshe gathered Bnai Israel and told them it was important to keep shabbat. Check, that’s exactly what we did today via Zoom. Social distancing couldn’t keep us apart to close our week. Moshe also asked everyone to contribute whatever they could to build the mishkan (travelling tabernacle) which is understood to have been God’s spiritual home in the desert. The Torah says that the people donated in abundance many of their precious belongings. As much as we all were (are) in shock from the sudden onset of school and business closures, one of the silver linings has been the incredible outpouring of resources. Not only was I incredibly fortunate to have close collaboration with local and national Jewish day school heads, but my teachers have been flooded with innumerable resources from online educational software companies and educational websites. Museums offering free virtual tours, famous authors and illustrators providing lessons on Facebook, and musicians giving concerts. So many apps that usually are fee based – now are all free.  Everyone is giving a little something of themselves to help and to brighten others’ daily life; the result is a collective experience of “being in this together.” Selfless giving is truly an expression of spirituality and love for others. 

This time of great uncertainty and fear has brought people together to build something beautiful. We are living in a moment of history that will be written about decades later. Hopefully, it will also be remembered for the countless acts of  kindness, generosity, and compassion that brought everyone together. Hinei mah tov umanayim, shevet achim gam yachad – How good and pleasant it is, to have brothers (and sisters) together. 

Be well everyone.