Dear Friend of Israel,
As I write this letter, Israel is once again in a strict lock-down, with only vital services open and offices operating remotely from the individual employees’ homes. At CFOIC Heartland, we are all working from home, but thank G-d, and thanks to modern technology, we are able to continue full operation. But it has not been easy. I have grown children so I no longer have to juggle work and mothering responsibilities. But the other three members of our Israel office team, Shmuel, Shira and Maya, are working from home even as their school-age children are home as well. They are juggling their CFOIC responsibilities with overseeing their children’s schoolwork and ZOOM attendance. Thankfully, we are all flexible and it does work out.
But not all parents and children are so fortunate. We are receiving more and more reports of children and teen-agers who are really suffering from nearly a full year of school interruptions. Most children ages 10-16 have not been in school for months, and are forced to keep up with classwork via zoom. The pre-school and youngest school-age children have been back in school part of the time, but just as they get back into routine, schools close again. So many of these children are falling through the cracks. Youngsters in the best of circumstances lack the maturity to listen to their teachers for long periods or to do their homework independently. When they are meeting their teachers through a computer screen, many are just tuning out. And so many teen-agers are suffering from the combination of isolation and lack of structure that is particularly harmful to children at an age when they are experiencing so many changes and often have the tendency to act out and get into serious trouble.
One of the teachers I spoke to shared her frustration at teaching black squares on the computer, when most of the students opt not to show their faces; these teachers have no idea if there is a warm body behind that black square or if the students have just logged in to make it look as if they are present. But they are completely absent – from school, from life, from responsibility. And then there are the students who don’t have a computer at home, or who are sharing one computer with several siblings.
The situation has reached crisis proportions. I want to ask you to help us respond to this growing need. I have enclosed our newest Heartland Highlight which tells the story of just one region in Judea where there is a critical need to help teens at risk. And we anticipate that needs like this one will multiply over the coming weeks. I hope you will able to help us help these teens. As we are nearing the end of the health crisis, we are probably just beginning to deal with its aftermath. I would be so grateful for any support you can provide to us at this time.
Sondra Oster Baras
Director, Israel Office
P.S. Enclosed is the latest edition of Nahala, the twice yearly newsletter and update from the Biblical Heartland. I hope you enjoy reading the stories and being encouraged through your connection to Judea and Samaria.