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March 26, 2020
How is this Pesach different from all other Pesach holidays?
This Pesach, we celebrate under the shadow of a frightening public health crisis. The world is going through a most challenging time. We all pray for a full recovery of those who are sick, and for a speed end to the pandemic.
From Isaiah the prophet, we learn that the meaning of the word Pesach is not just to “pass over” but also compassion and protection.
“Like the birds that fly, even so will the Lord of Hosts shield Jerusalem, shielding and saving, protecting and rescuing.” (Isaiah 31:5)
This line teaches us this meaning of the word פסח as it relates to the protection of Jerusalem against Sennacherib, the Assyrian king.
These last several weeks, we have had the privilege of providing a sustainable, engaging learning environment for thousands of Jewish children who are restricted to their homes because of the virus. They have continued with their Judaic studies as if school is still open and their teachers are sitting with them in the same room. There has been a rapid increase in the number of learners using iTaLAM, and we have made extraordinary efforts to extend support and training to teachers and principals, and assist them in providing distance learning in the most effective manner. We have made it possible for our teachers to extend protection – to encourage children to sing, read, meet, and tell about their Jewish heritage, in Hebrew, even in these difficult days.
First, I want to express my hope that you and your loved ones are all well. May you continue to stay safe and well.
This is an extremely work-intensive period for iTaLAM, as our team – in a matter of days – has rapidly created new activities for online learning; digitized numerous student workbooks and other blended learning materials; and designed and deployed an exceptionally relevant and highly popular series of webinars for our teachers, to provide them with direct guidance as they adjust to remote teaching.
Our team has been providing untold hours to develop new activities and materials that enhance iTaLAM learning in this new era. I’d like to share with you some key achievements that have resulted from the very hectic pace of work by our educators and developers over the past 20 days:
As our educators shift to this new mode of working, we have received numerous emails from across the globe, thanking us for providing this exceptional level of support, and enabling them to move quickly into a new virtual classroom space where students continue to be fully engaged with the iTaLAM curriculum. We would like to share some short excerpts from their feedback, below.
Thank you all for the important role you play in supporting iTaLAM and encouraging the support of others, particularly at this time of crisis for our schools and communities. We could not fulfill this historic role at this time without you.
With appreciation and warm regards,