Holiday celebrations look different this year.

The Jewish holidays in the Fall are the first big occasions of the school year for youth, staff and educators to gather as one community. It is a time when our youth are asked to reflect on the past year and look toward their futures. It is a time when they learn how to forgive and ask for forgiveness.

But this year was different in so many ways.High holidays at Yemin Orde

Rosh Hashanah meals were celebrated in small pods with youth and staff who remained at the Village. For Yom Kippur, we wanted to bring everyone together - virtually - and organized learning sessions via Zoom for each grade. It was a chance for the teens to see each other, to interact and experience "being together" for part of the holiday season.

During these discussions, youth talked about the concepts of Yom Kippur: reflection, forgiveness, soul-searching and charity.

For Sukkot, those at the Village helped decorate the large Sukkah. This time, however, our communal dining space had table dividers in order to maintain separation of our designated pods.

During the holiday period, students had the chance to take a break from online learning. New teens to the Village bonded with their new friends and groups and spent time with their informal educators. Older teens enjoyed some free time and the chance to be with each other before going back into an intensive learning structure.

New students even arrived from France and the Former Soviet Union during this time. For these teens, it was difficult coming to Israel (many for the first time) and going straight into quarantine for 14 days.

The good news is that our youth are in good spirits and know Yemin Orde's staff and educators have their best interests at heart.

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