Like Nachshon wading into the Red Sea, Congregation Etz Hayim’s Religious School has entered a new world of online classes due to the coronavirus quarantine. Starting March 22, our students and teachers have met online Sundays and Wednesdays. Our online sessions include minyanim (services) led by Rabbi Bass, music led by Moreh Will, and creative activities led by our teachers and madrichim. We will continue holding classes until the end of the Religious School year on May 17.
The first step in this project was getting everyone online and learning how to use the Zoom learning platform. Students were delighted to find that they could virtually “scribble” all over the screen using online tools. Teachers were delighted to learn that they could mute students. We learned how to sing together (by muting everyone except the song leader), how to break up into individual classrooms, and how to incorporate media such as videos and quizzes.
Our teachers demonstrate great creativity online! For example, Kitah Zayin (7th Grade) held a photographic scavenger hunt for Pesach items. Students were asked to take a picture of something bitter in their homes and build pyramids out of household items. Several classes have played bingo games and watched videos. We’ve played charades and held debates about the merits of items on the seder plate. Online learning can be dynamic and interactive!
Our priority for the remainder of the Religious School year is to provide a space for students, staff and parents to be in community with each other. We will continue to learn about Jewish holidays and history and study our Alef Bet. Judging from the interactions online, however, it is the Jewish value of Kehilla (community) that is most important. It’s a different kind of community than we are used to but it can still foster learning and provide support for all of us. Todah rabah (thank you) to everyone who is participating in this adventure with us.