Telling our story to the next generation – no matter what

An educator's mission during this period is teaching our meaningful story of continuity, brave leaders and how we can overcome difficulties.

Sivan Rahav-Meir ,

Sivan Rahav-Meir
Sivan Rahav-Meir
Eyal ben Ayish

Shalom. I am a teacher in a school in the south, and I am currently assigning grades for the first semester. It's almost a year that we have been teaching remotely opposite dark computer screens while attempting to get students to wake up, open up, and show interest. We personally telephone each student, we prepare worksheets, enrichment programs, and games, and mainly try to renew ourselves and our teaching techniques. (Our degree is in teaching, not Zooming).

Each day is a new lesson for me in patience and creativity: how do we celebrate birthdays for the class this year? How do we provide positive reinforcement from a distance to children entering isolation again and again when I see the sadness on their faces? How do we treat a student whose grandmother just passed away from the corona? How do we cope with 500 messages a day in a parents' Whatsapp group? And how exactly are we supposed to assign grades while on the roller coaster we have been riding together since the beginning of the year?

It's no longer a matter of how much we will teach. We understand that we will teach less material this year. It's a matter of the will to teach, to see that the children are advancing, that they are not sinking, that they are successful in acquiring Torah and wisdom, that they are overcoming and growing.

On Shabbat I noticed that the entire Torah portion focused on teaching us the importance of passing along a meaningful message to the next generation: 'In order that you should tell it into the ears of your son and your son's son', 'to you and to your children forever', 'and it will come to pass when your children say to you', 'What is this service to you?', and on and on.

Nothing is written about the number of pages to get through in a science or math book, although these subjects cannot be neglected, but rather about the most important thing –our ability to pass along to the next generation our meaningful story. If only – despite all our present hardships – we can succeed in this mission".

Some people write the story....

In these days leading up to our fourth consecutive elections, with politicians and parties that come and go, someone died yesterday who reminds us that it's possible to influence and change worlds in other ways, too. Moshe (Moshko) Moskowitz, who was 96 years old, had been an educator and activist who founded dozens of enterprises, including educational institutions, new communities, and yeshivot. He immigrated to Israel at a young age, fought in the underground, and merited to see great-great grandchildren. From everything that was written and spoken about him, I learned the following important guiding principles:

-The main thing is action. On the third day of the Six Day War, before cessation of hostilities, he had already written a detailed plan for the establishment of Gush Etzion. While everyone was still full of excitement and had not yet digested what was happening, he had already planned concrete steps to take going forward. "The Holy One, blessed be He, invites us in this generation to take responsibility and to act together with Him," he explained.

Two fundamental values accompanied him throughout his life: aliyah and education. In his youth, in the days of the British mandate, he was responsible for the aliyah of 57,000 immigrants from the detention camp on Cyprus, and afterwards persuaded an entire Jewish community from New York to immigrate together to Israel. And in every new community he founded, he first set up a school or a yeshiva. "Communities grow up around educational institutions," he explained.

-Never stop working. At the age of 90, he managed a full daily schedule of work. He was responsible for saving hundreds of Torah scrolls that remained in Europe after World War II. Only a few days ago he was making phone calls regarding the establishment of a new institution for at-risk youth. In a final interview he gave a few weeks ago, he said: "I have already made a plan I can show you of what the State of israel will look like at the age of 100. This is a grand and beautiful and spectacular plan."

-Don't look for credit. Through his life, Moshko did not attend ceremonies and did not want to appear in front of the camera. This he left for those seeking honor and fame. "Many of my successes resulted from not clashing with other people; I left for them the publicity and the honor," he said. Now, after his passing, he is going to a place where everything he has done is known and acknowledged.

Sometimes tragic events lead to a new story: Advice from Yael Shevach

Yael Shevach, mother of six, who lost her husband Rav Raziel Shevach in a terrorist attack three years ago, is raising her six children in the Samarian outpost of Havat Gilad. She recently published a humorous book entitled "Widow A" and was a guest at Nifgashot, a forum attended by more than 650 teenage girls. Here is some of her advice:

"In my opinion, what puts children in a funk during this corona period is guilt. If they get up late for their Zoom classes they feel guilty enough but then we add to their guilt if we get angry at them for missing their household chores as well. In such cases, I try to relieve the pressure they feel, to help them get into a different space. To talk with them, have a little fun, emphasize their successes, and communicate to them that I only want closeness and connection, because that's the truth. I have seen this work and have been able to return them to their routine.

"Immediately after the murder of Raziel, the children asked really simple questions: 'Mother, will we be going two months from now to father's sister's wedding? Mother, will be dressing up next month for Purim?' These questions seemed so insignificant and irrelevant, but they gave me strength during those moments. It was as though my children were telling me: 'The world is still here and we are still a part of it.

"At first, after the attack, the children saw me as very strong, unbreakable, standing tall. It took time to understand that it was not good for them never to see me as weak, never crying around them. I say to all those who must cope with any type of sorrow: you are allowed to ask for help. It's okay to be weak. It's permitted to take off the flak jacket and the armor, and to be daddy's little girl to our true father, our Father in heaven."

*Translated by Yehoshua Siskin