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Tuesday, May 26, 2020
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Starting on Chol Hamoed Pesach and ending on Isru Chag (Monday, April 13, through Friday, April 17), schools, shuls and other Jewish organizations partnered with the Riverdale Y to offer a free Zoom camp called Kef Babayit. From 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m, this camp was open to the entire community, offering its activities to any youth aged 4 through 12, free of charge, during Passover break,

Rabbi Aaron Frank, the head of school for Kinneret Day School, was the Kef Babayit program organizer. He explained that he saw how much the first responders are doing to support the community and how our local rabbis have done amazing work in arranging meals and visiting. “As a head of school, I talked to other people who work with kids, thinking about what can we all do to really contribute? The people on the front line are the real heroes. I was just making some shidduchs with former students and friends. We realized there are some people who are working from home who really needed child care during Chol Hamoed, and others who just want to have fun. All the kids are off from their virtual schools.” Frank also realized that at such a difficult time for so many, “There were those around during Chol Hamoed who are usually busy with their regular responsibilities. There are teenagers at home. There are college kids at home. There are senior citizens at home. There are teachers at home. All of these in the community have something to give.” He added, “We decided that we would partner that availability with the need of a lot of families who need and want some type of programming. It was all created by grassroots efforts. We just hoped people would have fun with it. On this unusual and challenging Pesach, it would be an opportunity for people to enjoy.”

Frank revealed that they made a lineup of 35-40 volunteers running two or three sessions each. The volunteers came from around the world: New York, Baltimore, Detroit and Israel. “We sent out an e-mail, and created a Google form, which we shared with the Riverdale community and other heads of school. We received great feedback from volunteers. Young kids love when teenagers and 20-somethings give them attention, as they are their role models.”

The activities include Disney trivia, juggling, magic tricks, baking, dance, Zumba and yoga. The programs were supervised by Frank and other Riverdale Y staff. The programs were designed for the kids to do on their own. The only requirement for a parent was to register their children for the program. “Kef Babayit was using the Riverdale Y’s platform to run this initiative and they made it happen by providing the Zoom room, and it was available to everyone around the world. You could be in Texas and volunteer. You could be a Texas parent and want your kid to learn a card trick, just by logging in. This was a great opportunity. We were creating an initiative here and also spreading it nationwide, so parents would have a free Zoom camp for their kids over break. ”

Frank expressed, “The shuls and schools may not be open, but the community continues to exist.” Frank added, “In this time of crisis, people just want to help, and people realize there are all types of ways to help. Everyone is trying to find their niche.”

Frank concluded, “I think Rabbi Avi Weiss said it best: It is not social distancing which we are currently practicing. We are practicing physical distancing, but we are as social as ever.”

By Judy Berger

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