Forsythia are the harbingers of spring. They are the first flowers to bloom in my yard, and their bright yellow petals seem to encourage the grass to sprout, the leaves to grow and the tulip bulbs to pop up from the ground. The natural world is cautiously transitioning into spring; here in New England, we know that one day it can be breezy and 70 degrees, while the next day it may be 45 degrees, raw and chilly. As a native New Englander, I love the change of seasons, and the omer counting between Pesach and Shavuot brings us from the end of winter into the beginning of spring.
In the 1960s, The Byrds wrote the hit song “Turn, Turn, Turn,” making famous the words of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) Chapter 3, Verses 1-8. “There is a season for everything, turn, turn, turn; a time for every purpose under heaven…a time to plant and a time to reap…a time to tear down and a time to build up…a time for weeping and a time for laughing…and a time to embrace and a time to refrain….” Kohelet is a very powerful text that feels relevant today as we transition from a closed pandemic world into a spring of opening and vaccination freedom. We have laughed, cried, mourned and loved during this time. It has turned us inward and outward.
Much has been written about how the past year has dramatically affected our lives. It seems that every day, there are articles from major news outlets that discuss the impact of the last 14 months; what will the academic and emotional effects of remote learning be on students; how will adults handle returning to the workplace after wearing sweatpants and commuting from their kitchens to home offices; which changes will remain now that we have endured a forced break from the hectic lives we used to lead. These questions, and many more, are being discussed by sociologists and psychologists alike.
Whether we like it or not, the pandemic provided a lot of unstructured time that needed to be filled, and while we all watched our share of Netflix and Zoomed (yes, it is now a verb) with relatives and high school and college friends we hadn’t seen in decades, there also was a lot of time “in our heads.” Some people took up yoga and meditation to calm their anxieties about the many unknowns and our loss of control. Others took to knitting or baking as they spent more time in their homes.
One thing I know to be true is that many people made life-changing decisions. This pandemic forced us to take stock and focus on what is truly important in life. It is for this reason that I am not surprised that two of my EHS faculty have decided it is time to retire. Another teacher will be staying home next year to focus on family and health. In a few weeks, a new voice will greet you over the phone at EHS as we welcome back a former head’s assistant who will rejoin us in May. All of these changes were wrought from the weeks and months that the pandemic gave us to reevaluate our lives.
It is unusual for EHS to have so many changes in staffing, but I understand why it’s happening. Not surprisingly, I have seen tremendous interest from candidates who want to join our special school. One of those people is a rabbi who will be our new director of Jewish life and learning. I look forward to introducing her to everyone. I am also happy to report that our school will continue to grow next year as we expect another jump in our enrollment as more parents seek change for their children and want to be part of our warm, vibrant and joyful community. The past 14 months have brought a lot of change, but part of the journey has been to embrace the new and hold tight to what is dear to us. “There is a season for everything, turn, turn, turn.”
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