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Celebrating Moments of Crisis

December 11, 2020
By Adam Tilove

Dear HBHA Family,

There is a joke that the synopsis of every Jewish holiday is “They tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat!” (Passover, Purim, Chanukah) But the truth is a little more complicated. Sometimes the synopsis is, “They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s fast!” (Tisha B’av, The Fast of Esther, and the Fast of Gedalia) But when one looks at Jewish history, it is clear that these moments of crisis are not to be ignored, but to be reflected upon. It is in these moments that Jews take stock of where they are and set the course for the future.

Take for example the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70CE, commemorated during the fast day Tisha B’av. It was a tragedy, but moreso, it was a moment of existential crisis. Judaism had been a religion based on offering sacrifices in the Temple. Without a Temple and the ability to offer sacrifices, Judaism faced an immediate threat of being utterly useless. But in the aftermath of that destruction, Judaism became something much stronger. The rabbis compiled the Mishna and their arguments about the Mishna became the Gemara, the discussion of the Mishhan and Gemara and became the Talmud - the root of all Jewish law. This quick pivot helped Judaism become a mobile civilization - one in which we could practice anywhere in the world without being tied to a Temple in Jerusalem. This rabbinic Judaism is what we still practice today.

Time will tell what COVID-19 means to our world and to Judaism. But as I reflect on the year, the semester and Chanukah, I am thinking about how we adapt to change during our own time of crisis. Have we been adapting quickly and responsibly to the world around us? Have we been able to pivot to new technologies and adapt our mindsets as quickly as we need to? 

To be frank, I don’t know. I know that I am very proud of the work our teachers, principals and volunteers have done. And I’m proud of the patience and commitment our families have offered HBHA as we work through this challenging time. I also know that we aren’t done yet. We still have another semester ahead of us, and challenges that lie on the other side of COVID. But in the spirit of Chanukah, I want to let you know that we will continue to fight to be the best school we can be in the face of any and all challenges.

Chanukah is all about adding light during the darkest time of year. I want to let you know that your children are our lights during this challenging time in this school's history. They add joy and happiness to our lives each and every day. Thank you for sharing them with us!

Shabbat Shalom,

Adam Tilove
HBHA Head of School