School on Chol Hamoed?

Charles Spielfogel ’21

Throughout the long week of Sukkot, Ramaz students wondered why we have school on Chol Hamoed. Most other yeshivot have the entire week off. Many families travel to Israel and other destinations for the chag. For those of us who were here, we attended school, but we did not learn so much. We had a half-day, and many periods were free or teachers did not teach the regular curriculum. 

I think Ramaz has to make a choice to either eliminate school entirely on Chol Hamoed or make these regular learning days. If we had a full day of school, families would be less inclined to travel, making it a regular week of learning.

I understand that the school wants to give everyone the opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah of sitting in a Sukkah. However, a large majority of students have access to a Sukkah in their homes or synagogues. For that reason, to keep the school open for two half days does not really make sense. Perhaps as Jacob Davis ’21 said, “The school should be open and provide lunch for people who would like to eat in the Sukkah, but we should not have school.”

I think there are also other alternatives to school if Ramaz decides to remain open. One day could be a fun trip (including a stop to eat in a Sukkah). This would keep kids from being home all day doing nothing, and it would be a fun experience during “zman simchatenu.” Another alternative would be to offer a full-day chesed trip which would help students fulfill more mitzvot, which is also what the holiday should be about. Offering other opportunities would hopefully entice those who are home to participate and have a more meaningful Chol Hamoed.

In conclusion, Ramaz must decide to either go along with the other yeshivot and be closed entirely or make better use of these days. Having two half days where only partial learning takes place really does not make sense or contribute to the spirit of the chag.