Pesach from Julie Katz - Ezra Academy Board President

Dear Ezra Community,

Avadim hayinu. We were slaves. Atah b'nai chorin. Now we are free. Why is this Passover different from other Passovers? At a time when we enjoy the greatest liberty to practice Judaism and celebrate our holidays, we are each confined to our own homes lacking the freedom to celebrate how and with whom we wish. Elijah will certainly have more work this year, more Seders to visit. As we have done throughout the ages, we adapt our practice to the times. While we will still eat matzah and bitter herbs, some of us will grind our own horseradish root rather than having it delivered by our in-laws. We will still dip twice. We will still recline. The Seder will still follow the same order, even though the faces around the table might be seen through a computer screen rather than in person.
Yair is pointing to Morah Beth; Morah Gila is next to her; and Dr. Waynik is in the front of the school next to the school bus. The playground is on the right, gaga pit in the center, synagogue on the left.
While we adapt our Passover Seders, Ezra teachers and students swiftly modified their teaching and learning to fit our current situation. Teachers and staff ensured that Ezra students did not miss a single day of education. Even standing Ezra traditions met our current challenge. Older students and younger students paired up for Passover tutoring. Fifth graders read their first Torah readings online to an audience of their classmates, relatives, teachers, and other observers. Younger students still receive individual attention from their teachers and still receive their warmth and enthusiasm through online lessons. The second and third graders benefit from hearing Emily Abrams read James and the Giant Peach and then respond to her with their answers to questions. Their Judaics lessons, given by Amalia Klapper, help students make sense of the weekly parsha. Sixth and seventh grade students learned about Passover and social justice through a Freedom Seder. Eighth graders wrapped up their unit on The Merchant of Venice, guided by Lois Murray's favorite excerpts.
Online instruction, however, cannot replace the loss students feel for the supportive, generous physical community Ezra has built, so a kindergarten boy constructed a representation of Ezra with his blocks.
We will be together again as a community, and we will incorporate all we've learned through this experiment in remote education. At the end of the Seder, we proclaim, "Next year in Jerusalem." At the end of this experience, we'll rejoice, "Next year at Ezra!"
I wish you all a safe and happy Passover,
Julie Katz