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Dr. Alissa C Zuchman, Director Alissa@bjechicago.org, 847-291-7788

Living With Uncertainty Wednesday, August 11, 2021 – 3 Elul 5781

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We are living in unprecedented times. Educators around the world are grappling with the
new reality of having to make many decisions that present great uncertainty and complexity
related to the pandemic. Educators (together with parents and physicians) need to decide
among many other things the most beneficial way to teach—in-person, hybrid, or virtual—as
well as to reconnect with students, teachers, and families and reach out to students who
dropped out of the system.
Perhaps looking at Jewish history can provide insights that will help with our current
pandemic challenges. One example among many comes to mind—the uneasy times B’nei
Yisrael (the Israelites) experienced transitioning from being slaves to being free people and
re-entering the Promised Land. B’nei Yisrael lived in temporary shelters in the Sinai desert for
many years reassured by their leader, Moses, that they would enter the Promised Land and
prosper. B’nei Yisrael had to acquire new skills, learn to live independently, and adapt to
difficult circumstances. Many educators since March 2020 have taught in temporary “virtual
spaces,” learned new skills, and continued to adapt to new ways of teaching and learning.
Jewish history also provides abundant examples of periods of uncertainty. These same
moments propelled our people forward, and made us creative and resourceful. Therefore, we
should take this opportunity to continue learning about our rich heritage and help our
students make meaningful connections that offer insight into how to deal with the current
uncertainty.
Beyond the unsettling feelings, this time offers us an opportunity to grow, find creative
solutions, and raise the bar of Jewish education. It is a time to revisit the curriculum,
choose lessons that are meaningful to students in lieu of the past years’ experience, connect
to students and families in a sensitive way, and highlight the strength and resilience of the
Jewish people. All these things are within our reach. Let us make the most of this uncertainty
as we reach together to new heights. You don’t have to do it alone—reach out to JTeach.org;
let us know what you need and how we can help.

Dr. Alicia Gejman
Curriculum Specialist