WRITTEN BY 12TH GRADE STUDENT CHANA LACHMAN
After months of keeping apart, six foot distanced, masked, and Covid-weary, we finally joined together, in person, at our Mother-Daughter Graduation Dinner. As everyone trickled into the Double Tree Ball Room, the joy on everyone’s faces – grandmothers, mothers, daughters, peers, and teachers alike, shone through, unmasked! The ambiance in the room was so uplifting. Fresh white flowers adorned each table, and waiters carried in the food, but even more special was the feeling of closeness emanating throughout the room. Closeness in body and closeness in spirit. After twelve years of schooling in Bais Yaakov of Baltimore, our class was graduating! Surrounded by our parents, grandparents, and teachers, we were all gathered here together to celebrate our future.
Dressed in Shabbos finery, mothers, daughters, and teachers mingled, congratulating each other and catching up. Friends looked at one another and joked how this event seemed like a bring-your-mother-to-school-day. It seemed school life had been transformed to this beautiful hall, albeit with our mothers and grandmothers there to shep nachas over how much we had grown over the years, how the small flame of our youth grew to the light that shone before them today.
As the event began, we were addressed by fellow students, Dani Shnidman and Pesha Shereshevsky, who spoke of the beauty of our grade and reflected on our path until this moment. Pesha spoke about how every part of the Bais Yaakov experience is geared to building us so that we could help carry out the mission of Klal Yisroel. As our final year winds to a close and the time to leave slowly approaches (where did the time go?!), we can leave confident that we are, b”H, prepared for the next stage of our journey.
Mrs. Mindi Hauer addressed us from her vantage point as the mother of a senior, her last daughter to finish Bais Yaakov. She told us that our school has an invaluable gift, so rare to find, yet we experience it every day without notice. Only Bais Yaakov of Baltimore can boast a student body so diverse, yet so wholehearted in acceptance and love of one another. It is the profound level of achdus in our school which is unparalleled and truly invaluable.
Mrs. Shifra Rabenstein spoke next, reflecting in her message and tone the selflessness of Bais Yaakov’s teachers. She shared how much she cares about us – loves us – and how much she hopes and prays for us. Tears for how she will miss us, for how she and all of the teachers hope they did enough for us. In Bais Yaakov the teachers are not simply there to teach, they are there to touch our lives. Mrs. Rabenstein, as the mouthpiece of the faculty, shared how she wished the school year did not have to end now, how perhaps there was one more student whose life she could impact, one more girl she could connect to.
Ultimately, all the speakers concluded, it is now up to us. It is up to us to fuel the fire they have ignited inside us throughout these twelve years. The torch is passed to us. Outside of the framework of our beloved Bais Yaakov School, it is our obligation to forge our own path, form meaningful lives, and live by the ideals which we were taught. To keep our flames burning bright, so we can rekindle and then pass this passion onto others.
This was a night of self-reflection, of realizing how we owe our growth to all those who were surrounding us. To our parents who raised us, our teachers who taught us and modeled for us true avodas Hashem, and our friends who stood by us through it all.
We as a grade played together in the playground, shared the slide, and pushed each other on the swings. We grew up together, and now, together, we move on as a grade to greet the future: adulthood. Maybe it wasn’t bring-your-mother-to-school-day. Maybe it was escorting your daughter, your child, your student, your friend towards the wide-open future. Remind her of her firm foundation, her school, with its unified, diverse student body and pristine Torah spirit, with role models for teachers which no other school can boast. Remind her of who she is and of what she can accomplish. Wish her well and of all the blessings the world can offer.
And what better way to do so than in an upscale event, with waiters and clinking glasses, in a room filled with her parents, teachers, and peers, after a year and a half of staying apart. Now, in parting, thankfully, so close together. Now, in every form and manner, truly one.