Bruchim Habaim (“Welcome”) to the first blog post of the school year for the Jewish Enrichment Center! My name is Shifra Whiteman and I am the Yetzirah(creativity) specialist. This morning was quite an eventful one for everyone. I myself had quite an adventure on the commute to Hyde Park. I was supposed to arrive at the center around 8 am to meet and prep with the other staff members, however, in the midst of rerouted buses due to the half marathon on Lake Shore Drive, I ended up on an unexpected tour of south Chicago. The entire time I was “lost” I kept thinking about whether or not I would make it to the Jewish Enrichment Center by the latest 9 am.
We, the staff, have been working so hard these last few weeks and have grown more and more excited about finally meeting all the children, that I became nervous I might actually miss it. Thankfully, I managed to get back to the Hyde Park area and as soon as I got off the bus, I ran (in the opposite direction of the half marathon) towards the center.
The time on my watch was 9 am sharp and luckily, I didn’t miss anything! As shorashimers and nitzanimers came up the stairs, I was so thrilled to be able to welcome them with a “Boker Tov” (“Good Morning”) and introduce myself. I floated between Beit Shorashim (Nursery 3 and Pre-K) and Beit Nitzanim (K – 2nd grade) throughout the morning, learning everyone’s names, photographing them for their Ani Po/Ani Lo Posign-in pictures and getting to know them a little bit.
I was amazed at how quickly friendships were formed and how nicely the children played, explored and worked together. It felt as if time flew by because the next thing I knew, we were all in Chadar Kehillah (Community Room), where we sat with Shorashim, Nitzanim, the morim (teachers) and parents, and began singing shira/tefillah. Some children knew the words and some knew the hand motions but everyone seemed to have smiles on their faces. While I was looking around at all the children in that ma’agal (circle) I had a great sense of joy and happiness about the community we are creating. A community that is open to all forms of Judaism, learning and of course, fun! On my less stressful commute home, I found myself excited about what tomorrow and Tuesday will bring.