A phenomenon of living in the Diaspora is the dualism involved in simultaneously keeping in mind our secular and Jewish life experiences. This can affect us at many levels but one pragmatic one is holding two conflicting calendars in consideration. There are times when this can prove challenging, for instance the dreaded Yom Kippur – AFL Grand Final clashes that occur intermittently. However, I think the time is right to end the year and start off a fresh new one.
A year ago I marked this time of year with a hope that we could look away from the challenges of the previous year and instead, look hopefully forwards to the new one. While 5781 has not delivered the freedoms and opportunities many would have hoped for, this is an opportune time to once again acknowledge what we are grateful for and to look towards a better and brighter year ahead.
This past Jewish year has once again seen us having to innovate and develop alternate means to both maintain our students’ educational progress and nurture a thriving sense of community.
Our teachers have continued to improve on our Distance Learning offerings – continually finding new and creative ways to engage our students. So too, our Jewish Experiential Educators have managed to utilise comedic videos, online quizzes, games and challenges to help our students to mark our special Jewish calendar events.
Defying the monotony of interacting via a screen has been a genuine challenge and we have all become familiar with the experience of “Zoom fatigue”. That said, our educators must be acknowledged for the sensitivity and expertise with which they have used their close knowledge of our students to design the best learning experiences possible through this imperfect medium.
We should also acknowledge the tremendous work of the many volunteers, parents, students and staff who have worked to maintain the tight-knit fabric of our school community that has proved so important in this time.
The KDSPA, School Council, the Hanhagah (student leadership group) and staff have all taken up the responsibility to send gifts, make phone calls and put on spirit-raising events to ensure that even in isolation, everyone feels valued and included.
I am so proud to be part of this extraordinary community which has shown throughout this prolonged and challenging year that it can continue to strengthen despite adversity.
As we look forward to 5782 we should do so in the belief that things will get better. It would be naive to think, like I did last year, that we will immediately bounce back to the normality of pre-COVID times. There is no doubt that there are still some challenges ahead.
Despite this we know that the goodwill, optimism and warm relationships that are evident across our staff, students and families will be the backbone of building a new year that brings positive experiences, togetherness and community.
Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova u’Metukah