With the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March, students in Midreshet Lindenbaum‘s Maria and Joel Finkle Overseas Program returned to their countries of origin. But even though the dorms were empty, school continued as the program staff immediately moved all shiurim, chevrutot, individual spiritual meetings and extra-curriculars online. Amazingly, not even one class fell through the cracks.
The national days of Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut were also meaningfully marked online by the international group of students through joint study and school-wide remembrance ceremonies, a virtual visit to the Har Herzl military cemetary to pay respect to Israel’s fallen soldiers, an online Independence Day scavenger hunt, and more. But the out-of-the-box creative thinking went even further when Lag BaOmer rolled around and it was time for the school’s annual end year trip to the North.
This year, there were no buses necessary to transport the students; instead Rosh Midrasha Rabbanit Sally Mayer and Senior Faculty member Rabbi David Brofsky slathered their faces with sunscreen before leading the young women – clad in their Midreshet Lindenbaum tiyul shirts and hats – on a virtual tour of the ancient northern city of Zippori, where Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi began compiling the Mishnah. Taking restroom breaks and making sure that the students were drinking enough water, Rabbanit Mayer and Rabbi Brofsky led students via photos, creative graphics, Talmudic sources, a video prepared by Rabbanit Mayer’s children and other interactive aides through the city’s amazing excavations, including the well-preserved theater, marketplace, mosaics, underground water system, synagogues, mikvas and homes.
After a break for lunch, Rabbi Kaplan “brought” the students to Meron for a virtual tour and learning about Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. The outing was capped at night, with a virtual Lag Ba’Omer bonfire with games and singing.