Zoom in on Cheder: How One School Thrived During Covid-19

When the message came home on the Friday after Purim that all the schools were closing without a projected end date, many of us were incredulous. It felt like a fictional story straight out of a book.

Rising to the occasion, all the Yeshivos and Schools did an incredible job setting up online classrooms, and parents worldwide are so grateful to all our mosdos.

Our boys attend Cheder at Ohel, which has Baruch Hashem grown from the two small houses near the Ohel to be a large Yeshiva in Valley stream, just one exit away from the Rebbe’s Ohel. Before Corona, two vans traveled from Crown Heights daily for the Rebbis and students to commute. Multiple shluchim from Long Island send their children, as well as families from across Five Towns. Many of us chose this school for our boys because of the smaller class sizes, individualized attention, and the friendly, chassidishe atmosphere. We worried if the beautiful close-knit environment they experience on a daily basis would transfer over to the online portal, but it took off beyond our expectations.

When the quarantine started, we were so appreciative of all the efforts made from the Principal and Rebbis. Immediately there were online classes put up, and before long a full day of Yeshiva started again. The schedule began each day at 9:30 and ended at 4 with some screen-breaks dispersed in between.

The greatest benefit of learning on Zoom was being able to listen into our boys’ classes. At any time of the day beautiful learning would come from each device. In our home, every room turned into mini classrooms; there was the beautiful mishnayos chanting from Kita Gimmel, in-depth Chumash learning from Kita Bais, and the sweet singing of Tanya from Kita Aleph. Additionally, it was special to listen to the Chayus in teaching their amazing Rebbis and teachers had, their passion for chinuch and chassidishkeit was evident even over the wires. Furthermore, as part of a smaller class, every boy was involved and got his turn to shine each day.

Some Rebbis took advantage of the online platform and invited the boys’ fathers, Zadies, and uncles to join as special guests visitors to the class, yet another advantage to having school on Zoom.

Our dedicated principal, Rabbi Pinchas Margolis, called each parent to check in on how Zoom was working out for the talmidim and made any necessary changes to accommodate each boy.

Rabbi Margolis also arranged a variety of school-wide Zoom Farbrengens to make it a complete Cheder experience. Thursday nights found the boys excitedly tuning in to a “leil shishi” program which featured speakers who farbrengened with the boys from all over the world. This program was started l’ilui nishmas Harav Hashliach R’ Benny Wolf A”H. Some of the Shluchim who inspired the boys were Rabbi Baruch Shlomo Cunin from California, Rabbi Shabsi Alpern from Brazil, Rabbi Oirechman from the Amazon Rainforest, Rabbi Avi Feldman from Iceland, and Rabbi Levi Banon from Morocco.

In addition, there was a daily gym class, which got the students out of their chairs to do exercises and stretches; the children enjoyed it immensely.

A highlight of the week was the school wide Avos Ubanim learning on Zoom. A peek into the screen would find a sight to behold: all those little zoom boxes were filled with boys and their fathers learning diligently over their seforim in their very own living rooms. The program always ended with an exciting raffle for every family that participated.

It is with gratefulness to Hashem and to our dedicated staff that our boys were able to learn and thrive over the past few months. Although school on Zoom was a huge success, the talmidim and Rebbis are all awaiting for the day they can learn together in their actual classrooms, back at our beloved Cheder!

It is our fervent hope that in the Zechus of all the countless words of Torah and Chassidus learned these past few months around the world, we will merit to have the ultimate unity of Klal Yisroel with Moshiach Now!!

To learn more about Cheder at the Ohel, or to apply for next year, please visit https://www.chederattheohel.com/

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