Where were you last year on March 15? On that day, my boys were home from college — a spring break visit we did not realize would last for months. We went underground, literally, that Sunday, and descended deep into the earth for a boat ride on the underground lake of Bonne Terre Mine. (If you haven’t visited, put it on your list.) It was a peaceful hour without cell phone service or internet access.
As we worked our way up the steep incline to ground level, a local cell tower found my phone once again, which began to blow up with texts and voice messages.
During that hour, the county had announced that schools must shut down. Thus began a year-long journey in the wilderness, making decisions in the dark.
In just a few weeks we will be reminded “B’chol dor vador… In every generation each one of us must see ourselves as though WE left Egypt.”
Your children have been engaged in storytelling, bibliodrama and deep discussions about the Exodus this week. They have imagined themselves as Israelites, and compared the experience of their ancestors to the wandering we have done this past year — with “normal” behind us and uncertainty ahead — hoping to soon arrive at a post-pandemic promised land.
The Torah depicts the Israelites in the desert as impassioned, divided, frightened, even wanting to return. They overcame the challenges of hunger, thirst, disease and weather. They worked through differences of opinion that led to division and hurt feelings.
But they also grew stronger as a community and embraced a written and oral code that continues to guide us. And we all know how the story ends! They persevered and reached the promised land.
Once again, we can see the promised land is near. Our teachers all have had an opportunity to be vaccinated, and their collective relief is palpable. We aren’t quite out of the wilderness yet, but we’re grateful to have wandered in person with your children, guided by that same written code that requires us to prioritize the education of the young!
Thank you for joining us in the wilderness. Next year in Jerusalem. Next year we may all be free.