A Plea to Principals: Don’t Take Away Our Snow Day

I remember the anticipation I felt as a child waiting for the first snow of the year.  As an elementary school boy like many others, prayer wasn’t my thing. I davened in school because that is what I had to do; I even said all the words (some of the time). However, anticipation of that first snow actually got me to pray. In hindsight, I should not have done this, but for weeks from the beginning of winter onward, I changed the text of the prayer. Instead of Mashiv haruach uMorid hageshem, that G-d makes the wind blow and the rain fall, I said Morid hasheleg, make it snow.  Please! Eventually, as if magically, it worked! My prayers were answered! It snowed. We got a day off.

The joy of that first snow was overwhelming. It was pure unabated fun.  No pencils, no books, just hot cocoa and snowballs. We bundled up and went out into the snow, the snow which always felt so high. We went out with our friends, threw snowballs and came home sopping wet. It was pure joy. All attempts to build a snowman failed. But who cared? It was about the process not the result. It was simply delightful. When we were young, we sledded.  As we got older, we played tackle football.  Snow is soft, we can’t possibly get hurt, right? It was plain wholesome carefree fun.

I remember those snow days vividly. I can’t forget the feeling of putting on wet, cold gloves to go out a second time. I can’t forget the admonishments to stay dry and not get sick. I can’t forget just how good my nearly frostbitten fingers and toes felt. Thirty-some years since I graduated, virtually no positive memories of elementary school remain. Besides of course, the joy and exhilaration of that first snow day of the year.

I write these words as that first snow is falling. I can still feel the excitement and chills in my bones.  It’s coming down fast and sticking to the ground! I want there to be joy in Mudville (or Slushland). My kids are excited to go out and play in the snow tonight; but they fear tomorrow morning. Instead of looking forward to fun and delight, they are worried that they will have Zoom school. They fear even more agonizing hours of sitting in front of a screen.  Neither I nor any reasonably minded parent looks forward to more Zoom school. The painful memories of the not yet passed pandemic still sting. The awfulness of the pandemic lied in prosaic things not only in the horrible death and illness.  It also resided in cabin fever, seclusion and, yes, Zoom school. So many kids didn’t learn.  So many parents became even more frazzled. Teachers (myself included), found it taxing and painful. I tried to get my own work done and saying shiur while monitoring the kids in virtual school. Like all multi-tasking, I seriously under-performed at both.

So here is my plea: Cancel Snow-Day Zoom school. Let the kids play, enjoy, and get sopping wet. Guaranteed, 30 years from now they will remember their frostbitten hands and failed snowmen much more fondly than they will remember fourth grade fractions. Mr. Principal, I am begging you. Please, cancel Zoom school tomorrow.

About the Author
Rabbi Ezra Schwartz is a Rosh Yeshiva and Associate Director of the Semikha Program at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary in New York
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