Head of School  Passover Message
  April 7, 2020
13 Nisan 5780

Dear Levine Families,

A hard letter to write this year.

Our Passover Seder, indeed our entire Passover "break," will never be as poignant, as deeply affecting, as meaning-searching, as it will be this year.

You might be hearing what I am hearing: from our rabbis everywhere who have turned to Zoom Shabbats, invoking the irony of our current crisis as we recall the historical plagued-induced occasion for Passover. This year, liberation seems to be ahead of us, not something that happened long ago.

Our Seder tables will be diminished in size; our families will not be "extended" but "immediate." I have heard the sports forecast already, that searching for afikomen will not be as competitive this time.

I have also heard it is a good time for new traditions, and so here's what the Elieffs are doing: We're going to invoke our own PPP. You may have heard about the stimulus plan with those letters that small businesses, including Levine, are hoping to secure. While we are going ahead with our small family Seder on Wednesday, all of our original invitees, plus more, will convene later this spring for a different PPP -- a Post-Plague Party.

Hearts hunt for hope, whenever times are grim and searing. "There is more day to dawn; the sun is but a morning star," are the words from Thoreau I like to quote. Education is illumination, and it is the heart of who we are as a Jewish community. I was honored and inspired to be on a call last week with Rabbi Jonathan Sacks who told us that, while it takes an army to defend a country, it takes education to save civilization.

And we are doing our part at Levine. During this plague-induced expulsion from our school and our normalcy, I am flushed with pride and love for all the people pushing our mission forward, ardently and creatively. I am talking about all of you -- teachers, parents, students, principals, directors, learning specialists, counselors, office staff. Teachers are at the pinnacle of our school's mission. During this crisis, they have been and continue to be our front-line heroes.

There are hidden treasures within this phase of sheltering -- rekindling relationships inside our families; a heightened appreciation for simple pleasures, like taking a walk outdoors; a reconsideration for what is "essential," that new buzzword that slows us down from our fast-paced, goal-oriented lives.

Yet for all of us as a community, the lasting ideals, the inculcated values, the cemented outcomes, will be resilience, connection, compassion, and commitment. The clarion call for derech eretz and tikkun olam will never be as compelling a voice as it is right now.

May we all see these times as an urgency to pull together, to support one another, to embrace our mission, and to re-confirm our values -- to focus on Rabbi Sacks's message.

As we emerge from this current darkness, let us realize how powerfully our Levine Academy community can and must work together to become the beacon among day schools across the nation, for the future of our children, and for the betterment of our world.

Chag Pesach Sameach,

Tom Elieff
Head of School
Ann & Nate Levine Academy