Reinventing Community in a Time of Isolation

As we prepare for Yom Kippur, we reflect on this unusual year and the experience of living, working, teaching, and parenting in a pandemic. 

I am thrilled to report that Gann Academy successfully reopened in person this past August. In order to reopen safely, we had to reinvent every aspect of running a school. Within six short weeks, we rewrote Gann’s schedule, transportation protocols, homework policies, and more. We even figured out how to play team sports while physically distancing and masked. Our goal was to ensure the highest levels of safety for our faculty, staff, and students while maintaining key elements of the Gann experience.

One of the most challenging dilemmas we confronted was how to adapt Z’man Kodesh (sacred time) to meet the strict safety restrictions around singing and public gathering. In consultation with our medical advisory panel, we moved all minyanim (prayer groups) outside. Before COVID-19, our various strands of Jewish observance were hidden from one another, occupying different indoor spaces in our beautiful building. This year, however, because we are all outside, we are able to see and witness other prayer traditions and approaches to Jewish spirituality. 
What we didn’t anticipate in all the logistics and detail, was the beauty that would emerge from bringing the various prayer groups into nature. This year, for the first time, all options of our Jewish Pluralism are within eyesight and earshot of one another. I can easily pray in the Orthodox minyan and hear the conversations happening in the discussion-based minyanim. From my perch on the hill,  in the Traditional Egalitarian minyan, I can watch the Outdoors Minyan engage with nature. This new set-up, while borne of necessity, has strengthened the ambitious project of Jewish pluralism that is flourishing here at Gann. 

As our students prepare for the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, so much of their Jewish experience will be different this year. They will fast at home, with their families. They will not physically be able to go to the synagogue. Yet we are happy to report that we have helped our students and their families regain some semblance of normalcy and community back in their lives. Gann has opened safely and successfully and our mission to educate the next generation of Jewish leaders, across the wide spectrum of Jewish practices and beliefs, remains vibrant and strong.

Chodesh Tov,

Dalia Hochman

Listen as the Gann Academy Red Cleffers sing Mochel Avonot, from traditional Yom Kippur Liturgy. 

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