Paramus—Ben Porat Yosef (BPY), a yeshiva day school in Paramus, builds its curriculum around the philosophy that “Being a Jew is not only something that is studied; it is something that is lived.” Chol Hamoed Sukkot brought faculty and students together to experience this concept to the fullest.
“What better way to celebrate Sukkot than as a school community?” school leaders asked. “This provides an excellent opportunity to have students experience the concept of “v’samachta b’chagecha” in their school with their teachers and friends.
“I made the decision to stay open for Chol Hamoed Sukkot two years ago so the whole school can experience the chag together,” said Rosh HaYeshiva Rav Tomer Ronen in a phone interview during Chol Hamoed.
“It’s an opportunity to sit and eat in the sukkah and say Birchat Hamazon together. Many parents are working; instead of being at home, the children are here celebrating with simcha.” Parents had an opportunity to join the school’s festivities with a PTO-sponsored early childhood event on the Sunday of Chol Hamoed. On erev Hoshana Rabba, the junior high came together for learning.
Both Monday and Tuesday began with a festive tefillah, with students—and many parents—entering the school with lulavim and etrogim. The days continued with special trips and programming. Some highlights included a concert by Tizmoret and singing and dancing outside as part of mock hakafot for Simchat Torah.
All students participated in the mitzvah of eating in the sukkah, which they built and decorated the week before the chag. A special night learning program, Tikun Layl HoshanaRabba, took place at the school on Tuesday, organized and directed by the BPY teachers and rabbeim
It has become a BPY tradition for the sixth grade to build the sukkah with their rebbe and for the early childhood group to do the decorating. Each teacher develops a unique program in class for the two days of Chol Hamoed.
“Everyone is smiling and happy and we have beautiful weather,” said Rav Ronen.”It’s the highlight of the beginning of the year.”
By Bracha Schwartz and BPY Staff