Farewell to Ohr Chadash by Ruth Merrill

It is almost impossible to believe how quickly the school year passed. I know, we all think that every year, whether we are students, parents, teachers or the Education Director. It was less than ten months ago that staff positions were finalized, books were ordered and the arduous registration process was underway. Now as I look back and remember all that was accomplished this year, I realize that once again, the school year truly flew by.

Our Pre-Pesach Seder was a huge success. The children and their guests had a wonderful time recalling and retelling the story the exodus of the fledgling Jewish nation from Egypt. Each class was assigned a portion of the Hagaddah and presented it. Kitah Gimel had everyone smiling and singing along as they sang “Let My People Go.” The children analyzed and explained the Four Sons and everyone, both young and old, joined our youngest classes as they sang the Ma NIshtanah– the Four Questions. For Karpas, we all dipped our celery into salt water and ate Hillel sandwiches of Matzah, Maror and Charoset. Nut free charoset, with dates instead of nuts, was served to our children with nut allergies. The children of Mechina followed the Seder using their individual personalized Hagaddot. The class made them as their yearlong project. Thank you to Morah Shari for catering the meal, Morah Zehava for leading the Seder and our dedicated teachers for coming in early or staying late to make sure the event ran smoothly and efficiently.

The children of Kitah Dalet, as part of their yearlong Holocaust studies project under the guidance of Morah Judy, presented a program for the school on Yom haShoah. The children read poems and essays to the school and parents. Claire Heymann, a member of ICCJ and a 92 year old Holocaust survivor spoke to the children about her experiences in Auschwitz and other camps. The children and adults sat and listened in awe as she reminded all those present to never forget. Later that day, many of these children attended the community wide Yom haShoah commemoration. It was very moving to hear these young people read poems written over seventy years ago that are still relevant today. A special thank you to Morot Shari and Judy for being there for the children all day.

Sunday, May 7, was one of the happiest days of the year. The students of Kitah Aleph received their first Siddurim.  After singing select prayers and expressing their feelings about this special once in a life time day, the four honorees and their excited guests were treated to a cake made just for them. Thank you to Morah Ruthie A, and the students of Kitah Bet for making the day a great one,

The final week of school was a busy one. On Sunday, May 21 the Closing Ceremony was held at Hillcrest Jewish Center. The Rabbis greeted the children and parents. Representatives from the three synagogues, PA and School Board all spoke. The assembly moved to the Moreida to view the yearlong projects that the classes worked on. Shorashim, under the guidance of Morah Miriam, displayed their Aleph-Bet and Brachot (Blessing) books. Kitah Gimel studied the land of Israel and made a book highlighting different cities and areas of interest in Israel. Thank you to Morah Zehava for helping them prepare their project. Kitah Hey participated in a Midor le Dor—From Generation to Generation history project. Morah Simcah, had the children chose from one of three topics, or all three, to research and write about. They could trace their family history through the life of a family member. Some children chose to explain the importance of a family heirloom or artifact or describe a family food and the celebrations and traditions associated with it. Some members of the class were so enthusiastic about the project, they covered all three topics in their presentations.

We then moved to the lower Moreida for a delicious brunch of bagels, lox and assorted spreads.  The meal was topped off with a “Make your own Sundae on Sunday” for dessert. 

On Wednesday, May 24, which this year coincided with Yom Yerushalyim and the 50th Anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, the children were treated to a special “Wednesday with the Rabbis” program with all of our Rabbis. Blue and White cookies were provided to everyone in honor of the occasion.  It was a wonderful and fitting end of year celebration.

As my term as Education Director is coming to its end,  I wish to thank the Rabbis, teachers, synagogue officers, school board members and numerous support staff, for their assistance and guidance these past four years. As my 16 year association with the Religious School is ending, I cannot find the proper words to adequately express my gratitude to all of you. My love for the children was reflected in everything I tried to teach and instill into the minds and hearts of the students. The many children I interacted with and taught will always have an important and special place in my memories. Finally and very importantly, I wish to thank the parents for your support and for giving me the opportunity to teach and guide your precious children.  I wish all of you a safe and healthy summer and good luck and success to the new Director and Ohr Chadash.