When the Rhythm of the Jewish Calendar Reaches Crescendo

What a two weeks back from Passover Break!

Last Thursday was Yom Ha’Shoah – the day on the Jewish Calendar where we pause to remember the events of the Holocaust and the memories of all who perished therein.  Yesterday we celebrated Yom Ha’Atzmaut – the day on the Jewish Calendar where we celebrate Israeli Independence Day.  In between, on the roller coaster of spring holidays and immediately the day before, was Yom Ha’Zikaron – the day on the Jewish Calendar where we commemorate Israel’s Memorial Day.

It is always a remarkable juxtaposition of days – complete 180 degrees of emotion that take place with a click of the second hand and, in Israel, the siren’s call.  Unlike in North America, where fewer families are personally touched by military service, in Israel no one is untouched by war’s destruction and all pause to personally mourn.

I feel so blessed to have had a chance to observe and celebrate these holidays as part of the OJCS and larger Ottawa Jewish Community.  In addition to attending powerful communal gatherings for each of the holidays, our students and teachers helped lead incredible assemblies and programs here at school.  This is when the power of living in rhythm with the Jewish Calendar is most obvious; this is when the power of a Jewish day school education is most clear.

We began with Yom Ha’Shoah, where our Grade 8 students, led by our Shinshinim Idan and Noa, Morah Ruthie and Rabbi Rotenberg, prepared a powerful assembly for our older students which incorporated presentation, liturgy, music and a candle-lighting.  I was so impressed by how seriously our Grade 8 students took their responsibility and by how seriously our students took the assembly.  It was an appropriate tribute to such a solemn day on our calendar.

It was Grade 7’s turn this week – with huge help from Morah Ruthie, Noa and Idan – to lead our school in an incredible Yom Ha’Zikaron assembly.  Hereto, they incorporated presentation, liturgy, music, dance, and a candle-lighting.  It was extra special to have had a chance to hear from our slightly ad-hoc “choir” who had a chance to perform both at the community’s commemoration as well as our own.  We were also blessed to hear from a special guest, Col. Amos Nachmani, the Israeli Defence Attaché to Canada, who shared some remarkably personal words to help our students better understand and connect to this important holiday.  This is one of the true blessings of being a Jewish day school in our nation’s capital.

As for our school’s epic celebration of Israel’s 70th anniversary?  Are there enough words to capture the day?  Is there enough praise for Morah Ruthie, Idan and Noa?  I could try to capture in words our appreciation for all the time and love that went into the planning.  I could try to describe the celebration of raising the Israeli flag back to full mast, the spectacle of the assembly, the energy of the “7 Stations for 70 Years” where our students rotated between experiences of Israel’s accomplishments across the arts, science, sport, etc., or the joy of the closing festival.  But sometimes words are simply not enough.  So with great thanks to our new IT maven and overall tech and media guru Josh Max, please enjoy a taste of yesterday’s magic.

Two quick reminders:

If you have not filled out your Annual Parent Survey (and 55 already have as of today!), please do so by April 30th if you want your feedback included in the report.

Please join us on Thursday, April 26th at 7:00 PM for our next “OJCS Town Hall” – this one about how are gong to strengthen the “J” in OJCS.  You can RSVP to Jennifer Greenberg ([email protected]).

Author: Jon Mitzmacher

Dr. Jon Mitzmacher is the Head of the Ottawa Jewish Community School. Jon is studying to be a rabbi at the Academy for Jewish Religion and is on the faculty of the Day School Leadership Training Institute (DSLTI) as a mentor. He was most recently the VP of Innovation for Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools.  He is the former Executive Director of the Schechter Day School Network.  He is also the former head of the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School, a K-8 Solomon Schechter, located in Jacksonville, FL, and part of the Jacksonville Jewish Center.  He was the founding head of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Las Vegas.  Jon has worked in all aspects of Jewish Education from camping to congregations and everything in between.