Six Months Later: Mazel Day School Prevails Over Superstorm Sandy - The Jewish Voice
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Thursday, July 7, 2022

Six Months Later: Mazel Day School Prevails Over Superstorm Sandy

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A Mazel Day School class celebration
A Mazel Day School class celebration
We first reported about Brooklyn’s Mazel Day School in August of last year. That article, headlined: “Getting Top Grades – It’s The Jewish Thing To Do,” told the story of a school that was at the forefront of education in the Jewish community of South Brooklyn. However, last November we also reported that Mazel Day School was one of the Jewish institutions which was heavily damaged during super-storm Sandy. And so, we wanted to see how half a year later the school handled the enormous challenge it had been dealt.

The great America writer, Harriet Beecher Stowe, wrote “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn,” and this indeed reflects the post-Sandy experience at Mazel Day School. The night after the storm most of Mazel Day School was five feet underwater with much of its supplies and infrastructure destroyed. Those were trying times and everyone who was there during these first days could feel the great weight of this moment on the future of the school.

Fast forward to today and the direction of the school is once again positive and education-focused. The administrators of the school are interviewing new applicants for the 2013-2014 school year, “in spite of what happened, this year we had the largest amount of new applicants” said Chani Okonov, the educational director at the school. This demand is driven by the school’s modern approach to education which is student-centered and progressive, with a strong emphasis on Jewish values and traditions. “Our community helped rebuild the school because they see genuine value here, they want to see this school succeed because they believe that we are the future of education for Jewish kids in South Brooklyn” said one of the school’s board members.

In a series of videos on the school’s website, Chani, describes the educational approach at Mazel Day School. It is a vision based on modern day needs and old age wisdom, the need to incorporate new teaching methods while staying true to Jewish values, it is an approach that transcends the walls and desks that can be washed away in a flood, and it represents the unique ability of Jews to adapt and thrive under new and often challenging circumstances.

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