Thanks For the Dance: A Second Wind and A Dying Gasp

Leonard Cohen’s posthumous album proves a fitting final farewell to the poet of the soul.

Album Review by Ron Gneezy (‘21)

Leonard Cohen Mural in Montreal

A mural of the late Leonard Cohen in his home city of Montreal (Wikimedia Commons)

Leonard Cohen’s music is a glorious thing that hangs over my family like a guardian angel at all times. When my parents first moved in together, my aunt gave them a cassette with two albums: on one side, Janis Ian’s Between the Lines. On the other, Songs of Leonard Cohen. From that point onward, my family has had many major experiences with Cohen’s music, from the first concert my parents went to in San Diego to listening to Old Ideas on repeat for two weeks on end in the Galapagos. Now, the last new album of his that we’ll ever hear is Thanks For the Dance.

I cannot call Thanks For the Dance Leonard Cohen’s best album — or even a top-three album of his. Nonetheless, it is a beautiful way for him to say goodbye — after he seemed to be saying goodbye for all of the 2000’s. Some songs were almost complete when he died, others were merely recordings of him rhythmically reading his poetry. Despite this, every song sounds just like how I imagine he would put music to his words — largely thanks to the production talents of his son Adam.

The album is headlined by the single “Happens to the Heart,” a very fitting choice to enter into the pantheon of Cohen’s singles — home to the legendary “Hallelujah” and the iconic “Suzanne.” The song feels like the culmination of a great theme of Cohen’s late career: the blurry lines between the love of humans and the love of God. More than that, it feels like a story of Cohen’s life: in his studies of all the religions and ideologies of the world, he met Christ and read Marx; he studied with beggars; he was scarred by the women he failed to disregard; yet through it all, he chose to focus not on what happens to him, but on what happens to all men — to the hearts of men.

In reflecting on his own heart, though, Cohen wrote “Moving On,” the one song on the album with a known backstory: Leonard Cohen’s first partner, muse, and soulmate apparent, Marianne Ihlen, passed away mere months before his own curtain call, prompting him to compose an oft-circulated, oft-misquoted letter to be read aloud at her funeral. It seems that, for every word he failed to say to her in life, he added another word to this tribute — a tribute to the “queen of lilac, queen of blue.” The composition of the track itself is hauntingly beautiful. Javier Mas, a colleague of Cohen’s who joined him for his final tours, can be heard playing his friend’s discarded acoustic guitar with virtuosity, bringing lightness and sincerity to the piece.

Cohen would begin every concert with a performance of “Dance Me to the End of Love,” and would often use “Take This Waltz” as a midpoint. For the ending of this story which spans decades, one can turn to the album’s namesake, “Thanks For the Dance.” Perhaps the most quaint song from the album — feeling as though it would be at home on his first album as well as his last — it feels like a waltz that would be perfect for anybody trying to learn the dance. The instrumentation and tone almost carry a celebratory feel, though tinged with Cohen’s trademark melancholy cynicism.

The final song on the album, “Listen to the Hummingbird,” feels distinct from the rest of Cohen’s catalogue. The recording of his voice here was not destined for the studio. It was just the last poem he read at the press conference for the release of his album You Want it Darker, only two weeks before his death. In the poem, Cohen specifically calls for his listeners not to listen to him — to listen to the unseen, the unknown, or the short-lived. Cohen resigns himself to the background, content with the idea that he will speak no more, because he has said the last words he cares to speak.

Thanks For the Dance may be slightly below the quality of Cohen’s numerous other swan songs, but it is still a fantastic experience. Sonically pleasing, lyrically intense, spiritually settling. So many songs feel like Cohen’s last words on the stories of his life — the balance of debauchery and study, the eternities with and aeons apart from his love, and the very idea of his own legacy, just to name a few. Through his friends, families and colleagues, the immortal words of Leonard Cohen have been given a fitting moral conclusion.

The (Zoom)ing Change

SDJA Students open up about their “quaran-cation”

By Ariela Cohen (‘21)

Along with the rapid spread of COVID-19 comes the need for adaptation. Just like a student vexed by their math test, the world has had to find solutions to a problem that is hard to understand. As part of SDJA’s response to this pandemic, before the campus closed in mid-March, multiple classes were used to help teachers and students become familiar with Zoom. “At first…we kind of took it as a joke,” Fania Pupko (‘21) comments. “But, as the situation began to get more severe and virtual learning turned into our reality, all of us, students and teachers, are making huge efforts to make it work.”

On March 12, the last day that classes took place on campus, various students showed their excitement for shifting to virtual learning by screaming with joy and jumping up and down with their classmates. However, their perspective on the situation did not take too long to shift, either. Daniella Surpin (‘21) states, “It feels like I have been getting a lot more homework from my teachers. But, I wonder if this has any connection to classes being online?” 

Samantha Veinbergs (‘21) adds, “As days passed this ‘quaran-cation’ was not as fun as I thought it would be, it actually kept getting more and more serious and dangerous.” 

Trotta Zoom

Coach Nicole Trotta conducts her Anatomy and Physiology class online as her students pay close attention. (Photo by Ariela Cohen (‘21))

Students had, perhaps, blindsided themselves since the very beginning by only focusing on the fact that campus was about to close. As Dean Sandler (‘21) comments, “It’s very stressful how my weekly routine changed so fast. I had to adjust myself and get used to many new shifts in [just a few] days.”

Teachers, on the other hand, had a different outlook on the next few months. Coach Nicole Trotta, who teaches Anatomy and Physiology in the Maimonides Upper School, approached the situation with a very open mind. She mentions a proverb that helped her at the beginning and throughout this journey: “Expect nothing. Gain everything.” Coach Trotta has been excited to take on a new experience and challenge. However, one of the challenges she has had to face is the physical barrier between her students and herself: the computer. “It’s very hard giving a lesson and not being able to read my students.” she explains. “When we were on campus, I was able to sense the energy of the room or a particular student, gauging whether they understand the information, if they are engaged or if something is wrong.” Trotta adds, “I miss seeing my students!” 

Although this pandemic has been extremely challenging to cope with, it has definitely allowed everyone to learn and grow. At first, students felt very overwhelmed with all the changes, but lately they have been better able to manage their work to finish the semester in a positive way just in time for what is sure to be an unpredictable summer.

Stop Pollution — Be the Solution

SDJA is making lifestyle changes from home to be the solution 

By Madeline Ramirez (‘21) and Sammi Weiss (‘23)

The coronavirus pandemic has caused strains in our everyday lives. Following the stay-at-home order, we gaze out of our windows and can finally observe the change in our community. The traffic from the freeways is almost silent. The chirping of the birds fills the void. The planes are at a standstill. The stadiums have fallen quiet. The decrease of jobs has lessened air pollution. Change has blossomed around us. 

Banker's Hill

In Banker’s Hill, nature is becoming a more vibrant green and the skies are a clearer blue as pollution is decreasing. 

We are experiencing a historical event that has impacted people and their lifestyles for the future. San Diego Jewish Academy’s students and faculty have taken it upon themselves to be a part of that change. 

Jesse Katz (’23), a freshman at SDJA, has noticed the change in our environment. By watching the news and paying attention to nature around him, he has learned about how small actions can make a big impact in the long run. “I’m going to take the knowledge that I’ve gained in quarantine and instill it in myself and my community going forward,” Katz says. 

Seeing the trash on the streets has given Rikki Dorfan (’22) the means to improve the environment. “I’m going to make sure I use reusable water bottles and containers, and I’m going to make sure to pick up any trash I see around me,” Dorfan says. Moving forward, she will practice better recycling habits, as well as going paperless, and using more environmentally friendly items, including fewer plastic bags,

Maya Silberstein (’21) has been contributing to the decrease in pollution by being vegetarian, which reduces the production of greenhouse gases. From here on out, Silberstein will continue “being more aware of those around me.” Silberstein has learned from this experience to pay attention to the little things that matter. 

Seeing the world through a new lens, Devin Marcus (’21) has gained inspiration from the quarantine to be more proactive when it comes to the environment. “The stay-at-home order has helped me focus more on what I’m doing to help my home as well as the trash and recycling my family ends up collecting,” Marcus says. He has adopted habits that are beneficial to our Earth including using electricity instead of gas, recycling as much as possible, picking up trash, and being more observant of the world around us. Marcus says, “ It’s nice to think about the good that we’ve accomplished in the world rather than seeing the world through a perspective of hatred or having that mentality to be incapable of so many things.”

SD Harbor

The usually packed boardwalk at San Diego Bay is nearly empty at sunset. 

The SDJA faculty are using knowledge gained from past life-altering events to help them maintain a proactive lifestyle during the coronavirus pandemic. 

MUS Physics and Biology teacher Patrick Hagarman has been practicing good environmentally-friendly habits, including veganism, dieting, and sustainable living. Throughout this pandemic, Hagarman has modified his lifestyle to a further extent. “I usually fly a decent amount to visit family back east or to travel during breaks, but that has no longer been an issue since our travel plans have all been canceled,” Hagarman says. Once the stay-at-home order is lifted, he plans on utilizing the resources around him, including the trolley line that’s being constructed, electric cars, and bikes. Hagarman adds, “I’ve noticed the seemingly greater presence of birds and animals… this may have been due to a decrease in pollution since so many factories and vehicles haven’t been active.” Being quarantined has given him the time and opportunity to go outside more to observe nature thriving. 

SDJA history instructor Dr. Carleton Cunningham had an epiphany due to the growing environment which has led him to make improvements in his life to better the world. “Since I am now teaching virtually, I am not making photocopies [of handouts for my students] and thus killing fewer trees,” Dr. Cunningham says. A big change that he has noticed is that with fewer people driving “you don’t have to contend with cars to compete for the road.” Moving forward, he plans to continue these effective choices to benefit the environment. 

From clay to paper to digital building blocks, SDJA’s Upper School art teacher, Elizabeth Nebo, has been environmentally friendly from the get-go. She reuses her clay in ceramics, recycles paper in art, and limits paper handouts. “One of my personal goals to be more environmentally friendly is to purchase more ethically sourced goods. I want to support companies that are creating their merchandise in a sustainable way for the environment,” Nebo says. She goes out of her way to share her views with others in the hope of making even the smallest impact on the environment and the world. 

SDJA’s community has chosen to thrive during the coronavirus pandemic by helping the environment and will continue these actions moving forward. 

Photos by Madeline Ramirez (‘21)

The Stage is Set!

SDJA unveils plans for transforming former library into performing arts auditorium. 

By Sammi Weiss (‘23)


(Photo: Tibbits Opera House, Coldwater Michigan. Wikimedia Commons)

The red fabric curtains fly open and the stage is ready for the performance. The audience awaits the show in their seats and quiets down as the theater lights dim. The first cast members appear on stage and begin the performance. This is how the new, forthcoming Ana “Janche” Galicot Performing Arts Auditorium at the San Diego Jewish Academy will inspire creativity in the students. It will bring forth opportunities and possibilities that the school has yet to put the spotlight on. 

It all started with an idea by Skip Carpowich, SDJA’s CFO/COO, about how to utilize the former library space in a more efficient way. 

Next, enter the passionate Paula “PK” Brannon, K-12 Theater Director and Teacher.  Ms. Brannon has had a love for theater for many years: she pursued a career in directing in New York and is currently the director of theater programs at San Diego Jewish Academy.  

Creativity is key in acting, says Brannon, it “allows you to always think outside the box. [The arts] allow confidence to take root and stay with you throughout your life.” Take this idea, for instance: transforming the library, a quiet space for reading and working, into an auditorium, a loud room dedicated to performances. This will be a creative and out-of-the-box way to utilize that space. With a new auditorium, students will be given the opportunity to explore their artistic identities. 

The auditorium will help foster students’ creative expression, similar to how football fields or tracks prompt students to perform athletically. 

One of the key aspects of the performing arts is theater. Currently, in the 2019-2020 school year, SDJA only offers one high school theater class, The Coffeehouse Project. 

Kayla Swartzberg (‘21), a current junior at SDJA, expresses her passion for theater through acting. “I’m glad that the school really supports the arts and wants to nurture it more for students who are interested,” Swartzberg says. She is full of excitement to showcase her talent in this new auditorium. 

Sophomores, Kate Aizin (‘22) and Alec Amiel (‘22), are passionate about theater and think that the auditorium will maximize this space’s potential. Amiel says, “sharing the music room, while it’s nice and convenient…it’s nicer to have our own theater.” Aizin and Amiel have also helped cultivate the idea for Open Mic, and they both think that this interactive lunch time activity could additionally be a good use of the auditorium. Aizin explains, “We have barely any performing arts classes, except for High School Music and Advanced Music, and I think we need more drama!” 

Julia Schultz (‘23) is one of the only freshmen who currently pursues her passion for acting both inside and outside of school. “Theater is very important because it helps us grow and learn…as an actor,” Schultz says. She is eager to let her acting skills flourish in the auditorium. 

Another aspect to performing arts is music. Whether it is learning to play a new instrument or continuing on the path to becoming a better musician, music flows through our campus. 

An upcoming graduating senior, Evan Kohn (‘20), participated in Advanced Music class this year. Kohn says, “this was a good class to practice and improve my ability.” He wishes this auditorium had been a part of his last year of high school, but he appreciates the opportunity “for performing arts…to be seen in a new light [in the years to come].”

Devin Marcus (‘21), an 11th grade pianist in Advanced Music, says the auditorium would be a good place to put the students’ musical abilities to good use. “We could encourage the music department to host events there,” Marcus explains. 

Two freshmen, Adam Glasser (‘23) and Lia Gabai (‘23), are both talented singers who share a love for music. “[The auditorium] will bring in a lot of new possibilities to the school,” Glasser shares. He adds that music is one of his passions because “it brings out a part of me that is otherwise kept inside.” Likewise, Gabai explains how the auditorium will provide opportunities for the school, which, she believes, should “absolutely offer more performing classes because at this age it will be used as a way to branch out and be yourself.”  

As the red curtains close for the library, the spotlight will soon shine on the immense opportunities promised by the school’s new performing arts auditorium.


LIBERTY or DEATH? Mutually Exclusive?

Lions’ Den reporters Rosie Alchalel (’21), Ron Gneezy (’21), and Kayla Swartzberg (’21) wade into the complex debate about the ethics of life during the Coronavirus quarantine.

The Death of Liberty

By Kayla Swartzberg (‘21)


Cartoon by Tom Stiglich (used with permission)

Constitutional Amendment I: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

“Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself,” –Martin Luther King Jr.

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest,” –Elie Wiesel.

“Any society that will give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both,” –Benjamin Franklin.


Remember when everyday civilians would flood into the streets to defend their rights and liberty by resisting tyrannical, power-hungry leaders? Remember when pop culture oozed messages of resistance, of freedom, and of rights? Well, apparently resistance isn’t cool anymore.

It used to be that if you didn’t resist the tyranny of our government, then you weren’t a true patriot.

Of course, until patriots began to protest the heavy-handed, illogical restrictions that were placed on their basic freedoms by governors taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to excuse their hefty use of executive power. That resistance is despicable, disgusting, and a killer.

To clear the air, Americans aren’t just protesting because they are forced to stay at home, to slowly suffer economically due to social distancing rules (33 million unemployed), or to—as the media states—place their paycheck over human life.

The protests only began occurring when governors started to flex their powers in unreasonable ways.

On Easter Sunday, Christians were given citations for attending church services in their cars. Skateboard parks in Southern California were intentionally filled with sand so kids were unable to ride, even though it is almost impossible to be in close physical proximity with another person while skateboarding. Purchasing seeds and paint became illegal in Michigan.

These protocols are irrational. They are heavy-handed and don’t serve a true purpose, except perhaps showing off the elected officials’ temporary powers.

We the people of the United States aren’t impressed.

But journalists who think the First Amendment only refers to them, and celebrities who think the rules refer to anyone but them, are outraged. In fact, many journalists are actively trying to stop citizens from peacefully assembling and using their voices to oppose state government protocols. Oh, because free speech isn’t cool anymore either.

On April 20th, ABC News host George Stephanopoulos slammed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for letting protest organizers use the Facebook platform. Not long after, the posts by protestors were taken down under the guise of it being “harmful misinformation.” Journalists patted themselves on the back and poured themselves a drink for helping to remove the posts.

Yet it seems ironic that the journalists are the ones celebrating a corporation giving into the demands of an elected official, who wanted plans for political protests removed from a public website. 

Ultimately, when elected officials outlaw safe church gatherings and start using drones to monitor (say “spy on”) private gatherings on Americans’ private properties, patriotic resistance is needed. If the American people don’t protect and defend our rights, we betray those men at Yorktown who fought and died for them.

Still, I am practicing “social distancing.” I stay away from other people. I do it voluntarily.

Voluntarism and force are two different things. The government is force, and the media wants that.

CNN’s Don Lemon says, “Ten states have no stay-at-home orders! Some governors are still refusing to take action!”

In Raleigh, North Carolina, people came together to protest one of those “stay-at-home” orders. The police arrested a protestor and tweeted, “Protesting is a non-essential activity.”

But the Constitution—the foundation of our country, what makes America the greatest and freest country in the world—gives Americans the right to “peacefully assemble” and also “petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The truth is that the coronavirus doesn’t override the Constitution.

Protests have occurred in Michigan, where Governor Gretchen Whitmer imposed some questionable rules. Whitmer stated, “All public or private gatherings of any size are prohibited.” Her order stopped people from seeing family and banned anyone with more than one home to travel between them. And while many condemn the Michigan protests due to the open display of firearms and Confederate flags, others recognize that it is their right to carry guns inside the state Capitol under open-carry laws, and it is also within their right to wave any flag they wish. This is still America, the country of freedom. Isn’t it? 

In Encinitas, California, police fined people $1,000 for sitting in their cars to watch the sunset at the beach. Inside their cars. The police said, “We want compliance from everybody (because of the) lives that we’re trying to save.”

And in Calumet County, Wisconsin police officers were captured on video at a woman’s house because she “violated a state order” by allowing her daughter to play at a neighbor’s house. They scolded her and told her to take her daughter home.

Calumet County has had zero coronavirus deaths.

With all this, America seems crazy compared to Sweden.

Sweden is encouraging its older citizens and immune-compromised people to stay inside at home. They don’t want crowded hospitals. Other than that, Sweden is carrying on as normal. Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the Swedish Health Agency said, “Closing schools, stringent measures like that, closing borders, you cannot do that for months or years… What we are doing in Sweden we can continue doing for a very long time… The long run matters most.”

Their hope: once enough people get coronavirus, the immunity will prevent mass outbreaks later. 

Other European countries have also concluded that lockdowns aren’t sustainable.

Germany has reopened retail stores. Denmark has reopened their nursery and elementary schools. Norway has reopened schools. Austria has reopened ships to people who wear masks. That seems smarter than the “absolute shutdown” promoted by many American authorities. Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles threatened to “shut off water and power” to houses of people who don’t shelter in place.

Yes—shutting off people’s water and power.

Politicians are limiting our choices and freedom in the name of safety. They don’t consider places like Sweden or the argument that maybe leaving Americans alone might actually make us safer. Believe it or not, many people have enough common sense to stay away from each other when asked.

But no. It is important to remember: Politicians love pushing people around.

Politicians are taking measures that do nothing to combat the coronavirus. Some of which are locking public parks where people are social distancing and banning Americans from buying supplies. Americans are beginning to wonder if their politicians are trustworthy. And when politicians answer the questions with hysteria that the questioners don’t care about human life, people grow even more suspicious.

In the State of Washington, Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney won’t enforce the governor’s stay-at-home orders because he says Washington residents have shown that they are capable of keeping “themselves, their families and neighbors safe and healthy.”

Fortney also recognizes the hypocrisy in it, as he says, “Our Governor [Jay Inslee] has told us that private building construction must stop as it is not essential, but government construction is okay to continue.” He continues, “So let me get this right, according to the Governor if you are employed or contracted by the government to build government things you can still make a living for your family in spite of any health risk. If you are a construction worker in the private sector you cannot make a living and support your family because the health risk is too high. This contradiction is not okay and in my opinion is bordering on unethical.”

Washington is one of many states that has seen rallies protesting stay-at-home orders.

Demonstrators, both Democratic and Republican, have rallied in states across the country to protest their governors’ stay-at-home orders that have kept Americans out of work. 

Recently, thousands of San Diegans showed up outside the Hall of Justice to protest against lockdown orders in the “ReOpen San Diego” rally. People held up signs as cars drove by, honking horns of support. Planning for the rally started on the day that the San Diego County public health team ordered everyone to wear a mask or face-covering when within six feet of someone not in your household. 

Perhaps most important to note was that San Diego Police were on the scene, however the protest was peaceful and everyone stayed on the sidewalks and out of the road. Again, it is a right for Americans to peacefully protest. A peaceful protest, like the San Diego protest and many others, is allowed to occur.

Especially now.

Besides the governors’ illogical restrictions and the current mass unemployment, Americans are stressed and mentally drained. People are looking to substances and alcohol for comfort. Alcoholics Anonymous stated that the lockdown has presented a “near constant trigger” for recovering alcoholics already struggling against the way they associate being at home with drinking. And mounting data suggests that domestic abuse is also on the rise. Home isolation, however vital it is to fight against the pandemic—sociologist Dr. Marianne Hester explains—is giving power to the abuser. Isolation also has shattered support networks, making it harder for victims to help or escape.

To sum it up, Americans are allowed to protest. They are allowed to “peacefully assemble.” And in these times of mass unemployment, domestic violence, alcoholism, drug-addiction, depression, and governors using their newfound powers to take unreasonable measures—it seems logical that these people should protest. 

If Americans truly believe that everyone should blindly obey the commands of government officials basking in power and oozing in hypocrisy then America could turn into a very scary country indeed.

Works Cited

Betz, Bradford. “Washington County Sheriff Says He Won’t Enforce Governor’s Stay-at-Home Order.” Fox News, FOX News Network, 22 Apr. 2020,

“Breaking: Police Show Up at Woman’s Home for Violating Lockdown After Daughter’s Playdate.” 100PercentFedUp.Com, 29 Apr. 2020,

Fox News. “Fox News.” California Skate Park Filled with Sand to Enforce Social Distancing Backfires as Dirt Bikers Show Up,

KUSI Newsroom. “Large Crowds of People Show up to Participate in the ‘ReOpen San Diego’ Rally to Protest Lockdown Orders -.” McKinnon Broadcasting, 1 May 2020,

Norris, Michele. “Opinion | Firearms at Protests Have Become Normalized. That Isn’t Okay.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 6 May 2020,

O’Connor, Larry. “Apparently Resistance Isn’t Cool Anymore.” Townhall,, 21 Apr. 2020,

Quinn, Ben, and Nicola Kelly. “Online Support Groups for Alcoholics on the Rise during Lockdown.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 13 Apr. 2020,

Shapiro, Ben. “Every Crisis an Opportunity.” Townhall,, 22 Apr. 2020,

Sorace, Stephen. “Coronavirus Shutdown: What States Have Seen Protests against Stay-at-Home Orders.” Fox News, FOX News Network, 21 Apr. 2020,

Stossel, John. “Government Goes Too Far.” Townhall,, 22 Apr. 2020,

Tappe, Anneken. “30 Million Americans Have Filed Initial Unemployment Claims since Mid-March.” CNN, Cable News Network, 30 Apr. 2020, 

Taub, Amanda. “A New Covid-19 Crisis: Domestic Abuse Rises Worldwide.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 6 Apr. 2020,

Give Me Liberty AND Give Me Death

Hundreds take to the streets to protest the shutdown

By Rosie Alchalel (‘21) and Ron Gneezy (‘21)


Quarantine protestors and police alike gather outside the statehouse in Columbus, Ohio on April 18, 2020 (Wikimedia Commons)

As coronavirus-related panic and hysteria grip the nation and the world, reactions from various groups of people differ. While many stay at home and practice healthy safety measures such as social distancing and wearing masks, others take to the streets bearing semiautomatic weapons and Confederate flags. 

The measures these so-called “First Amendment” protestors are taking, have been–in a true stroke of irony–in violation of the First Amendment, which ensures all Americans the right to peaceful protests. Not only is the nature of the protests dangerous, congregating in large groups has been proven to promote the spread of the virus. Many protestors even bring military grade weapons along with them. In Michigan, the protests — in addition to charging the state capitol building — took place strategically in front of a hospital. Not very peaceful, right?

The protestors can be seen bearing signs such slogans as MY VIRUS, MY CHOICE (mocking Pro-Choicers) and DEFUND SCIENCE. It is not radical to ask oneself if the shutdown is really what they’re protesting. Perhaps this goes deeper: an effort to promote their racist, xenophobic agenda.

In Michigan, one protestor held up a sign reading “Heil Whitmer,” in reference to the state’s Jewish governor, Gretchen Whitmer.

In Columbus, Ohio, a car passenger displayed a sign which read THE REAL PROBLEM and bore an image of a rat with a kippah and a Star of David.

For some, this isn’t a war on the government, nor a war on the virus. Many protestors have turned this into a war on minorities.

Another interesting trend seems to be signs which incorporate facts, with many reading “facts not feelings.” Well, the facts point toward a lockdown. Toward isolating ourselves to deter the spread of the virus.

The facts are plain and simple: don’t touch your face; wear a mask; stay six feet away; socially isolate. 

The government is obliged to keep us safe, to promote our well-being and, eventually, help us be rid of this virus. It is nearly impossible for the government to keep us safe if we won’t take the necessary protective measures ourselves. Even if there is an argument that other rights are inalienable, the most vital of the inalienable rights is the right to life, and in order to secure that right, we need to temporarily give up the rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is neither illogical nor immoral for the government to put in place these restrictive measures, it is simply what must be done in order to promote our well-being and the general welfare. To ensure we don’t get sick. To save lives.

Nevertheless, President Trump has urged Governor Whitmer to “make a deal,” with these “very good people” (yes, he is referring to the same people bearing rifles and signs unapologetically attacking her Jewish heritage). The President believes that she should “give a little, and put out the fire.” For protestors acting so selfishly in opposition to facts, it seems highly unlikely that they will be satisfied with “a little.”

With a swift turn to history, it is evident that at times the government has granted itself the authority to perform limited breaches of the First Amendment. 

In 1917, a socialist named Charles T. Schenk was arrested for passing out flyers urging resistance to the draft during World War I. He was arrested and his sentencing was famously upheld in the Supreme Court in a case titled Schenck v. US. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes declared that the government can limit free speech if it provides “a clear and present danger” to U.S. citizens. The coronavirus is as clear and present a danger as can exist. Unlike the threat of war overseas, the virus it is already at large within our nation.

These protestors provide “a clear and present danger” toward the well-being of all Americans as they actively promote an agenda which completely disregards safety measures that are in place to save lives. Therefore, it is well within the authority of the government to terminate the protests.

Don’t get us wrong. We want our normal lives back, we want the economy to be booming again, and we want the right to protest. But none of that is worth having  at the expense of our health–and ultimately at the expense of our lives and the lives of our loved ones. 

We recognize that these lockdowns aren’t sustainable indefinitely. But it is not up to citizens to decide when this ends. It is up to the government and, more specifically, the scientifically educated members of the government. 

At the end of the day, it is impossible to tell COVID-19 what to do. Protesting with big guns and xenophobic slurs will not scare away the virus. So, for the time being, we must be obedient, not only to the government but to the facts. And the facts scream, “stay home.”

Works Cited

Cortellessa, Eric. “US Far-Right Extremists Are Now Calling Social Distancing a Nazi Policy.”, The Times of Israel, 17 Apr. 2020,

Ellis, Emma Grey. “The Anti-Quarantine Protests Aren’t About Covid-19.” Wired, Conde Nast,

Hancock, Laura. “Some Ohio Coronavirus Protesters Using Anti-Semitic Symbolism.”,, 21 Apr. 2020,

Lombardo, Timothy. “Perspective | The Far Right Hates Liberals, Government and the Media – and Now, Quarantines.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 21 Apr. 2020,

Phillips, Morgan. “More Lockdown Protests Taking Place across the Country as Other States Begin to Open Up.” Fox News, FOX News Network, 1 May 2020,

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. 


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


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. 


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


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. 


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)


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


  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



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


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.