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For our children, returning to school after the long Corona break is a bit like beginning the school year after summer vacation. From lounging around in bed and joining zoom class in pajamas, kids are suddenly forced to plunge into the icy waters of bells and schedules, desks and chairs, classes, and notebooks. Though as traumatic as it promises to be, not surprisingly, I found that many kids looked forward to the “plunge”. They missed their friends and, dare I say, even their teachers, and though the school day can be long and tedious, it does give them structure, and on a good day, a mental challenge and a chance for self-expression. A good teacher will make the effort to ease his/her students into the water. Parents as well are grappling with the transition. At 7:30 in the morning, their child makes a dash to the door, swings it closed behind him with a “trachhh”, and then suddenly, miraculously, the house is QUIET. One has a blurry, distant memory of what things were like pre-Corona.

Before the noise of three different zoom classes from three different rooms. Before the flurry of daily WhatsApp messages. Before the mess and the claustrophobia and the various teachers (and kids) peering into your living room. And the need to constantly restock the fridge.

It’s coming back to you now, that familiar calm. You pour yourself a cup of coffee and hear the clink of the spoon as you stir in the milk. You sit. You look out the window at Har Meron. You breathe… absorbing the silence.

What now?

So parents, first of all, take the time to enjoy your newfound freedom. Go out for coffee with your spouse. Go shopping for nothing, and while you’re out, buy yourself an ice cream. Lick it slowly. Take an evening stroll.

Then remember, also YOU will benefit by filling your days with structure and meaning, so use your time wisely. Plunge into your work. Devote more time to Torah study. Sign up for a class. Do something creative. Join an art chug. Exercise – return to the gym (Tsfat has two, just pick one.), do yoga, pilates, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, mahjong, kung pao…take long walks with your dog. (I recommend the walking paths in and around Metsudat Biryah.) You can volunteer for the English library, do chesed, organize and deliver food parcels, or work in the local soup kitchen. All of these activities (except for maybe mahjong) are actually available here in our holy city! Ask about them in the Tzfat Cevreh” Facebook group.

But most importantly, make a schedule and write it down, and start today. Otherwise, it’s not going to happen. And in two months… it’s summer vacation.

Rabbi Dov Allen, was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate in 1995 and holds a bachelors degree from UCSB and a masters degree from Herzog College, Yerushalayim. He has been teaching Torah in Tsfat for the past 25 years and is currently the principal of Talmud Torah Tsemach David.

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