Since the first day of school, each morning Rabbi Doron Book has greeted his 32 seventh-graders at Boys Town Jerusalem with a rousing “Good Morning to you!” song. Even with the coronavirus closure of Israeli schools, the rabbi has not missed a beat: Sunday through Friday mornings, students now awake to a 3-minute video from their teacher delivering a message of Jewish values, encouragement and love.

“Don’t be depressed at being stuck at home,” one morning chat began. Opening his front door, Rabbi Book swept the camera over the budding fruit trees and flowers. “Bring this outdoor beauty into your hearts!” Another message, delivered while lifting barbells at home, encouraged the boys to strengthen both their bodies and souls. Even the rabbi’s alarm-clock-by-the-bed made a cameo appearance to rouse students from oversleeping, reminding them to stick to a daily schedule.

Most poignant was a “heart-to-heart” appeal to his students for help that begins at home. “With your parents now home, unemployed and with little money to live on, you have a responsibility: decrease your demands, and help your parents physically and morally. Lend a hand not from anger, but from joy.”

BTJ grad Doron Book, named one of the “Best 100 Teachers” by Israel’s Ministry of Education, joined the school’s faculty 45 years ago. “Disbanding the classroom has demanded a new approach to teaching,” he admits. “I’m assigning students research projects to do on their own, but many boys are struggling with no access to a computer at home. The daily video clips keep us in touch, and I’m delighted to be receiving calls and videos in return. But nothing can replace the eye-contact and dynamic discussions of classroom learning. We’ll all be happy to get back to school!”

To help boys get computers so they can continue learning from home, please donate here.

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