Mother Earth is Healing 

By Ella Diamond (‘20) and Madeline Ramirez (‘21) 

While we are panicking about COVID-19, Mother Earth is healing. Even though there are many consequences to the horrible CoronaVirus, some benefits are arising from this virus. Because cities have been put under lockdown, people are forced to stay at home unless it is necessary to attend their jobs. This has caused a huge impact on lives. 

smokestacks

Factory chimneys spew pollution: a normal sight prior to the quarantine. 

Italcementi_trento

A factory in Trento, Italy now at a standstill. 

Not all factory jobs are considered essential, so many workers have gone home. Due to the fact that factories are no longer producing toxins that are polluting our air, the skies have started to clear up. A second reason our air has started to be less polluted is because there is much less traffic on the roads. People are now only leaving their homes to buy groceries. This alleviates all of the unnecessary travel to the mall or anywhere else people might go. 

Colombo_galle_face_on_Sunday

A typical Sunday before the epidemic in Galle Face park in Colombo, Sri Lanka. 

A_healing_place_after_quarantine

Galle Face park during the quarantine; the lack of human feet has allowed the grass to regrow plush and green.  

 Another place people have seen improvements due to CoronaVirus is in the canals that run through the beautiful, winding streets of Venice, Italy. There, people have been kept in even harsher conditions, not even allowed to leave their homes for recreational activities such as walking. This has led to less pollution in the canals. People are no longer throwing their trash into the canals, and the pollution in the air isn’t entering these man-made rivers. Because of this, people have noticed that the waters look crystal clear and that they can even see fish. 

Venice_Pano_-_Flickr_-_mkniebes

The recent lack of visitors to Venice has helped bring clean water back to the canals

In conclusion, even though this novel virus has taken so many things away from us, we need to start looking on the bright side. We need to start understanding that COVID-19 has given us a chance to make our world a greener and better place. This virus has given us time to think about the destructive path we are all going down, and it has given us a chance to think about what we can do about it. 

(All Photos: Wikimedia Commons)

Children of Better Times

How the Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

By Kayla Swartzberg (‘21)

sunrise-in-the-mountains

Looking on the bright side (Photo: Public Domain).

Power stems from words and from actions. We can’t sit around yearning for better times when we ourselves hold the power to better this time. Perhaps the power to find the vaccine or create the tests is out of reach. Perhaps the power to diagnose or to find the treatment lies elsewhere. Perhaps the ability to reassure others sounds impossible. But that doesn’t make it acceptable to lose the strength. The chutzpah. The inspiration to, yes, get off the couch or roll out of bed. 

The sad truth is that we have begun to pray to the news and transform into strangers hiding under the blanket of “bad times.” Hiding in houses, hiding behind screens, hiding behind stories to the point where it seems like there will be no tomorrow. If we are blessed with the mental and physical capacity to change how we are dealing with this, then it is in our best interests to improve our minds and bodies instead of giving into fear. And while in this particular case the only thing to fear isn’t just fear itself, it’s undeniable that people’s fears have, indeed, smoked personal views of the situation and clouded the logic so much that it’s hard to distinguish between fact and feeling.

That is not to downplay the gravity of this pandemic. Not at all. Suffering is occurring, and people are dying. It’s saddening, and these spiky realities hurt those who are aware of them. Ignorance isn’t bliss. Yet a child’s innate lack of knowledge could have correlation with his or her happiness and willingness to be carefree. 

Now, I’m not proposing that we should ignore the problems of our times, quite the opposite. Staying informed is staying aware is staying protected. Knowledge trumps all. I’m proposing that we should revert back to our days as children (not that we aren’t still children, just bigger children I suppose) and remember what got us out of our beds and couches in the first place. Maybe we were excited for breakfast. To see our parents. Brothers and sisters. Puppies. Cats and dogs. To see friends. To read a favorite book or watch a good TV show. To color. Paint. Write. Run. To sing (perhaps off-key, perhaps horribly, perhaps all in the name of good fun). To dance. To run, and to play, and to laugh, and to love. To discover. To indulge in our curiosity. Therefore, because we are unable to venture out into the physical world around us, we must create our own world right here at home. Just like children.

Step one: start prioritizing passion over lazy preference. Example: if one has a passion for baking, one should bake instead of taking the easy way out and buying a cake. Another example: if one nurses a passion for painting, one should paint instead of going back to sleep. My brothers used to watch a television show called “Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu,” and one line from Sensei Wu really rings true for this, “Never put off until tomorrow what can be done today.” Time is precious, and we have now been given time at home to explore hobbies and interests. And while sleeping through the day and buying cakes have their own time and place (any form of relaxation does), it can’t start coming at the expense of losing one’s own joie de vivre, joy for life. Even hunger for life. Sometimes, you just gotta bake that cake and eat it too.

Step two: start talking. Talk to Mom and Dad. Or just Mom. Or just Dad. Brothers and sisters. Talk to Auntie and Uncle. That crazy cousin. Friends. To the dear grandparents. Speak to anyone willing to listen. Get the words flowing, the emotions spilling faster than apple juice out of a sippy-cup. Act like the one kid in preschool stomping his or her feet and saying, “I’m mad about this.” The more we’re able to truly communicate how we are feeling, the easier it will be for people to understand and relate to us. We’re all in this together (sing loud, sing proud), and the more that realization crystalizes in people, the better emotional state we’ll be in as a nation. And if we are in an improved emotional state, our amygdalas won’t go haywire as soon as we press those all-too-familiar buttons on the remote to watch the news. 

On a similar note, it’s imperative to revert back to the times of the Declaration of Independence and place importance on the “pursuit of happiness.” Which leads us to step three: laughter. While laughter doesn’t actually qualify as the “best medicine,” and while calling it the “best medicine” will make me sound like a political nincompoop (due to our medically-focused times) and literary loser (cliché much?), something should be said for how laughter makes people feel good—even if just for a second. Children laugh at almost anything, even themselves. Unfortunately, in these times, nothing is a laughing matter. We’ve got to get creative. Perhaps pull out those old Robin Williams tapes. Watch some Seinfeld or The Office. Board games, Mad Libs, improv, karaoke, SNL, even old childhood videos are funny. Sharing and laughing during a phone call with a best friend. Drawing pictures for Pictionary. 

See, all of the steps to create our own inner worlds are related to each other. Passion, communication, happiness… all three are intertwined to help us achieve that feeling of stability and that confidence to say to ourselves—to the sort-of-scared, sort-of-hidden inner children of ourselves, “The sun will come out tomorrow.” Even to sing it.

 

101 Totally Random Things You Can Do Entirely From Home During the Quarantine

By Alchalel, Rosie (’21)

Quarantine can be boring… VERY boring. So here is a list filled with an assortment of activities to help alleviate some of that boredom. There is something for everyone, from readers to artists to binge-watchers. Do one thing or do them all, but make sure to have fun! 

  1. Clean out your closet (you know you have to)
  2. Binge-watch Victorious on Netflix
  3. Read!!! (A couple of our quarantine favorites include The Handmaiden’s Tale, The Alchemist, and All The Light We Cannot See)Books
  4. Draw a tree
  5. Make your own list
  6. Draft a 2020 version of We Didn’t Start the Fire
  7. Learn the Renegade Tik-Tok dance
  8. Write thank-you notes (to your teachers, best friends, inspirations)
  9. Do 100 sit-ups
  10. Take a bath
  11. Stretch (touch your toes, reach for the stars)
  12. Make a DIY hair mask (there’s an article on how to on The Lion’s Den!)
  13. FaceTime your grandparents (They definitely want to hear from you during this time)
  14. Take a nap
  15. Research the Stanford Prison Experiment
  16. Put on a face mask
  17. Print out coloring sheets and start drawing
  18. Write a book
  19. Bake some brownies
  20. Karaoke with your family
  21. Learn how to cartwheel 
  22. Online shop (always Google coupons before you checkout)
  23. Do some yoga
  24. Learn how to write your name in different fonts
  25. Clean your room (you know you need to)
  26. Drink a cup of tea
  27. Dye your hair
  28. Tie-Dye an old shirt 
  29. Do a 1000 piece puzzlePuzzle
  30. Learn to play a new instrument
  31. Learn how to embroiderEmbroidery
  32. Learn to speak a new language 
  33. Meditate!
  34. Recreate old family photos
  35. Put on a play
  36. Join Instagram live dance classes 
  37. Paint your old white shoes (cow print looks nice and is so in!) 
  38. Read old Lion’s Den articles
  39. Zoom your friends. Be social even from far away
  40. Watch your favorite childhood movies. 
  41. Go viral on TikTok (or die trying)
  42. Organize the pile of papers that have been on your desk FOREVER
  43. Makeovers 
  44. Catch up on needed sleep
  45. Grow a gardenSeeds
  46. Read a Newspaper, it’s important to know what’s happening at times like this
  47. Make a photo wall 
  48. WASH YOUR HANDS!!!!!!!!
  49. Clean out your email 
  50. Paint your nails
  51. Write something you are grateful for every day
  52. Listen to a podcast (On Purpose with Jay Shetty is really getting us through quarantine)
  53. Play around on the Acapella app
  54. Make whipped coffee 
  55. Take an online course (Coursera has great college ones)
  56. Learn how to make different smoothies
  57. Make friendship bracelets
  58. Start a blog
  59. Listen to albums you haven’t listened to before
  60. Call an old friend
  61. Take an online workout class
  62. Start studying for your upcoming SAT/ACT ( Kahn Academy is a great resource for the SAT)
  63. Research different topics that interest you
  64. Put on a fashion show with your siblings
  65. Take a swim 
  66. Play around with makeup
  67. Play some video games
  68. Learn some new hairstyles
  69. Make a DIY hair mask
  70. Paint something random
  71. Play some board games like Rummikub, Life, Monopoly, or….Board Games
  72. Go sit outside for a bit
  73. Clean out your closet and find some things to sell online on websites like Depop and Poshmark
  74. Learn how to write with your non-dominant hand
  75. Catch up with an old friend… over text of course 
  76. Virtually ride Disney roller coasters 
  77. Watch old home videos 
  78. Deep clean your shoes
  79. Watch virtual concerts 
  80. Prank your family
  81. Build a fort
  82. Take Buzzfeed tests
  83. Write a short story
  84. Binge-watch America’s Funniest Home Videos
  85. Dive into Masterclass and discover something new to learn about 
  86. Clean out your photo library
  87. Organize your fridge and pantry
  88. Make a scrapbook
  89. Jump rope
  90. Learn how to photoshop 
  91. Watch documentaries on topics you’re interested in
  92. Paint your room (with your parent’s permission- of course)
  93. Design clothing
  94. Learn a new word everyday
  95. Learn some gymnastics
  96. Detangle your jewelry  
  97. Put together an impressive resumé 
  98. Clean your makeup brushes
  99. Join Houseparty and have fun with your friends
  100. Make a spotify playlist 
  101. Wash your car (or your parents’s)

All photos by Rosie Alchalel, except jigsaw puzzle photo by Alex Wellman (’23)

Masks Made Easy

Make your own protective mask to stay healthy during the Covid-19 pandemic

By Rosie Alchalel (‘21)

After COVID-19 hit, my organization, Good Hair Day, which gives free haircuts to the less fortunate, could no longer supply haircuts. So, instead I decided to make masks to donate as they are on back-order and hard to get a hold of.

Making my own masks turned out to be incredibly easy, so here I have shared with you a step-by-step guide to help you make your own. 

What you’ll need:

  1. Fabric (for this example I am using an Urban Outfitters bag)
  2. Scissors
  3. Sewing machine (you can sew by hand but it is recommended to use a machine)
  4. Elastic cord
  5. Carbon filters
  6. Clothing iron

Steps:

  1. Cut out two 6.5 in. by 10 in. rectangles and make small cuts, simply for indentation, three inches from either side on the 10 inch side.
  2. Bring the indentations in and fold down the excess into clean lines. Iron it out to form creases. If you are using something like an Urban Outfitters tote bag, be careful with the fabric as it burns easily.

3. Sew one side together

4. Cut out two 7” pieces of elastic cord

5. Sew in the elastic cords. It is important to make sure they are aligned evenly on either side.

6. Fold over a little bit of fabric and sew it down in order for the mask to have a clean finish

.7. Sew in one inch on either side. It is important to leave a section open in order to put in the carbon filters 

8. Flip it inside out and put in the filter! 

All photos by Rosie Alchalel

That’s it! Make sure to change the filters from time to time in order to keep your mask most effective.

Lions Under Quarantine

REFLECTIONS ON LIFE DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC BY MEMBERS OF THE LIONS’ DEN, THE SAN DIEGO JEWISH ACADEMY STUDENT NEWSPAPER

In_a_field_Hospital_on_the_Tugela_River

In a field hospital on the Tugela River, South Africa, 1900. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

COVID-19: NO FAIRY TALE

By Gaby Wellman (‘20)

March 19, 2020

We are living in a fairy tale. We are living through, or living in fear of, the COVID-19 pandemic. 

When we think of a fairy tale, we think of a happily-ever-after ending. Snow White receives a true love’s kiss from Prince Florian, Ariel finds her voice, Pinocchio turns into a real boy–the list goes on. As kids, these fairy-tale movies gave us dreams and hopes for our own happily ever after. But, the reason that these happy endings have such a great effect, is because of all the tension, drama, and destruction that precedes them.

We tend to look back at princess stories and remember only the best parts, the ones that made us laugh or smile, and we forget all the moments we begged our parents to fast forward through or the scenes that made us cover our eyes.

We are living in a fairy tale. We are living in the part of the story we wish could be erased. We are experiencing the rising tension, the climax of the story.

Right now, it seems like COVID-19 is ruining our lives. Has the annual SDJA senior trip to Poland and Israel been cancelled? Yes. Have Ken and Tzofim activities been suspended? Yes. Has the school campus been shut down with classes swapped for virtual learning? Yes. 

 Is this a difficult, unwarranted situation? Yes. It is, and there is no shame in having doubts, fears, or emotions about it. In an email to the senior class, Mr. Chaim Heller, San Diego Jewish Academy’s Head of School, wrote: “You get to be disappointed, you get to be angry, and you get to be flat out really bummed about this.” However, we shouldn’t get stuck in this negative spiral. We can have hope that, soon enough, we will get the happy ending that is to come. And while our happy ending might not necessarily mean returning to the way things were before, we can hope that a better, healthier alternative will arise from this situation. 

We are living in a fairy tale. We are living in the gut-wrenching, terrifying height of the story, but we are also living in the storm before the calm.

Almost overnight, our familiar routines have been ripped to shreds.  For the time being, at least, we don’t even have to get out of bed to go to school. Change is always a daunting idea, but a necessary one at that. 

We have suddenly had to face this harsh reality of social distancing and worldwide pandemic, but in this situation that has been forced upon us, we have a choice: to have self pity or to have hope and strength. 

 I urge you to choose the latter. Yes, fairy tales tend to have a happy ending, but this happily ever after doesn’t happen magically or on its own. It takes one character to stand up against all the negativity and choose to be hopeful to create the happy ending we so desire. It takes a Jack to climb up the beanstalk or a princess to admit that a tiny, little pea kept her up all night—we need to have the courage to make the necessary changes so that, in the end, all of the pieces can fall into place. 

We are living a fairy tale. We are living a fairy tale whose ending has not yet been determined. Certainly, the outcome of COVID-19 will not involve a knight in shining armor, ready to save the day, but, instead, it could result in economic prosperity, an increase in environmental awareness, and, surely, a more advanced medical field. 

The truth is, of course, that this is no fairy tale–it’s an unfortunate, unprecedented reality.  In fairy tales people are not issued mandatory “stay-at-home” orders or face a shortage of Coronavirus tests or ICU beds. In fairy tales a pandemic does not affect over 245,000 people, kill more than 10,000, and even then continue to spread. In fairy tales, the whole world does not face quarantine. But this does not mean that we cannot hope that something good will eventually come from such a calamity.

The COVID-19 story may, sooner or later, have its happily-ever-after ending but in the meantime choose to be the person who has hope that the ice will thaw, that Sleeping Beauty will wake up, and that the frog will turn back into a prince.

The Majestic Art Works of SDJA

A campus tour of the artistic works that brighten our campus with vibrant radiance and mystic Jewish values.

By Brannigan Stone *

For thousands of years, humans have been expressing themselves and drawing from their environment through art. This human characteristic has been passed down for generations, eventually lending itself to the San Diego Jewish Academy Community. With this creative outlet, our community has been able to create beautiful works of art for the school campus, placing an emphasis on what it means to be Jewish.

The Foot

SDJA Foot

A statue of a large foot, located in the Golda Meir lower school, shows the foot in mid-step. This stepping action signifies the families who took a chance, leaving their native countries to settle in San Diego. This sculpture showcases the bravery these families demonstrated as it is a life changing move to leave behind everything one knows in their old life, and take up one that is new and foreign. The foot was originally designed and sculpted by José Sacal. He titled his work First Step, and intended the piece to be surrounded by sharp and rugged rocks to show the difficulty of making the first step as an immigrant to a new country. San Diego was the symbolism for that new country where immigrants from Canada, Mexico, South Africa, and Israeli settled. However, the school opted to replace the rocks with something gentler, grass and flowers and smooth stones being more appropriate to the elementary school setting. According to SDJA Head of School, Chaim Heller, “It doesn’t change the message of the step onto new soil for immigrants, but it doesn’t have the same association with the tragedy, pain, and suffering.” 

Levana’s Garden

Levana's Garden Gate

Nature, although mysterious, is a beauty that cannot go unacknowledged, especially for its artistic finesse. In the hopes of seeking this beauty on our campus, one should look no further than Levana’s Garden, across from our middle school quad. This garden doesn’t just have history, but a spiritual presence that gives its visitors a sense of well being upon entering through its decorated gates. 

Upon entry, one sets out on a mystical journey with rainbow turtles, beautiful matriarchs, and symbolic quotes. With each step, they are a witness to the beauty of nature, and all of its facets. 

The Four Matriarchs 

Four Matriarchs

Within sight distance of The Foot, near the entrance to Levana’s Garden, the Four Matriarchs of Judaism stand in commemoration of the four matriarchs of the Torah. These include Sarah, Rachael, Rebekah, and Leah, showcasing the communal aspect of our community, as well as our journey and the survival of the Jewish people. The communal aspect is symbolized in the giving of the water portrayed by the matriarchs and how much of a role women play in nourishing our community. 

Trash Cans 

Trash Cans

The trash cans in the Maimonides Upper School used to serve solely as the dumping grounds for trash and lunchtime leftovers. These waste containers were given little thought until SDJA art teacher Elizabeth Nebo got the idea that they might become something more than that. She saw the surface of the bins as a canvas, rather than an ordinary facility unit. Ms. Nebo, with the help of her students, busted out the paint and brushes, and got to work. This installation has inspired positive feedback from the student body, including Nathaniel Manner, who admires the “different colors and vibrancy they bring to our campus.””

The Butterflies 

Butterflies

The entire SDJA campus – from the walls of the administration building to the Upper School office is adorned with butterflies. Each butterfly signifies a child killed during the Holocaust. These butterflies were created and painted by members of the San Diego community, and symbolize a project that is greater than just the SDJA community, one that includes other Jewish schools and communities. The idea for the butterfly project came from a film called Paperclip, and it spread to becoming butterflies that decorate our campus. The butterflies are some of the most popular decorations among the high school students and teachers, with Brendan Marx (’22) and Mark Zaga (’21) appreciating “all the pretty colors, and the positive essence the butterflies bring to our campus to remind us of the fallen children of the Holocaust.” 

The Menorah 

SDJA Menorah

The Menorah is one the most popular defining symbols of Judaism. Its 6 distinctive branches, and middle shammash, are symbolic parts of the piece representing Jewish life. As a Jewish school, the San Diego Jewish Academy built this piece to represent our progress and Jewish identity. We began this process as one of five Jewish schools that participated in a project called Jewish Day School 2000. The idea of this program was to figure out what the future of Jewish schools would be like. At the time, the schools involved, including SDJA, vowed to create a high school as they were all K-8 schools at the time. To commemorate this dream, the schools each constructed their own sculptures with the Jewish Academy creating a menorah. 

Just as the menorah commemorates this idea of Jewish progress, we ourselves can look towards the artworks on our campus, and appreciate them for their Jewish influences. widening our view by admiring their details as we migrate back towards our spiritual roots. 

* All artworks photos by Brannigan Stone (’21)

Who Wants to be Princess?

Harry and Megahn’s Royal Exit

By Kayla Swartzberg (‘21)

Harry and Meghan (1)

Meghan (left) and Harry (right) stand together on January 19, 2018 (Public Domain).

“I’ll do it,” Mr. David Sered announced to his audience of one on a cloudy afternoon. He would gladly trade places with the newly dubbed Duchess of Sussex and wife of Prince Harry, Meghan Markle. Picture it: Dave Sered—currently a high-school history teacher—strutting down the aisle to meet his much-deserved royal destiny of fortune, fantasy, and fervent fame. 

“I would love to be a princess,” Sered reiterated. And—like in many royal fairy tales—his wish may come true.

Indeed, for both Harry and Meghan have decided to “step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family… becom[ing] financially independent,” as the couple wrote in an Instagram post on January 8, 2020. They plan to spend their time in both the United Kingdom and in North America. While the royal newlyweds make a point of mentioning their unwavering honor to the The Queen, Harry and Meghan stand strong in their decision to create space between them and the royal regime. 

Dr. Carleton Cunningham, San Diego Jewish Academy’s AP Art History and AP Government teacher, felt “shocked” when hearing the news. He explained that while he “heard that there was dissatisfaction from Meghan and Harry about the way they were being treated by the British press,” he was still stunned at their so-called “extreme measure.”

“They are prominent royals who are part of the inner core of the royal family. The idea that they would decide to not take on major royal responsibilities was a surprise for me. Also, it was surprising that Harry would do something that would cause a rift between himself and the royal family,” Cunningham said.

“If you’re going to marry a prince, you’ve got to be a princess,” Sered adds.

Sered as Princess

Mr. David Sered enjoys his newfound power as princess. Photo: Kayla Swartzberg (‘21)

In addition to SDJA teachers, young American subjects are royally stumped by the whole conundrum. Josh Miller (‘21) says he is a “little confused” as to why Meghan and Harry have decided to separate. But, he continues, “they are independent and can make their own decisions.” Miller speaks personally when he remarks, “[I] would do what I knew was best for me.” Similarly, Rikki Dorfan (‘22) says she would “do what makes me happy.” Both Dorfan’s and Miller’s views on the matter most likely stem from their beliefs in American ideals—most notably the belief in freedom.

Ron Gneezy (‘21) sympathizes, “It’s a complicated situation, really. I think back to Diana, and how her fame is what got her killed.”

Prince Harry’s mother, Diana, died at the young age of 36, only one year older than Harry now. The beautiful “People’s Princess” was tragically killed in a car accident in Paris in August, 1997, likely due to the swarm of paparazzi aggressively pursuing her car.

Cunningham points out that “Harry is seeing playout again in the context of his own marriage and directed at his own wife. In a country with a free-press, you can’t control them, directly. So how can you change the perception?”

For one, Meghan Markle has become a verb for “to value yourself and mental health enough to up and leave an environment in which your authentic self is not wanted.” Harry and Meghan are receiving praise for their actions, for paving the way for change, and—as some would say— for valuing each other (and their adorable son, Archie!) over the pressing public, and the public press.

So, regardless of whether the royal Prince and Princess are ruthless rebels or radiant revolutionaries, one thing remains true: Sered wishes to take over for them.