As the world pays rapt attention to the staggering statistics of “Corona damage,” it’s easy to lose sight of the generation of youngsters who have lost a year of their lives. “Our students’ loss is far more than ‘just’ the crucial studies and matriculation exams that affect their future,” laments Boys Town Jerusalem High School Principal Rabbi Doron Taib. “They’ve lost socialisation with friends, daily routine and discipline, a normal homelife, and more. The long-term damage is frightening.”
Time is not in our favour, stresses BTJ Junior High Principal Rabbi Yehudah Rosencrantz. “The longer school is closed, the more boys we risk losing. Primarily those in single-parent homes, now more poverty-stricken than ever, are taking odd jobs day and night. Many have stopped even trying to connect to their “remote” lessons. Other students, deprived of friends and activities, are addicted to digital devices. Even normative families are crumbing, with their children tempted by drugs and alcohol. Worse, scores of boys and their families are ill, and many are hungry. There’s no money for food.”
In this frightening reality, Boys Town Jerusalem staff members are fighting a dogged battle to protect their students. “For boys losing motivation and hope, teachers have personally gone to their homes to encourage them. We were bringing students frustrated by distance learning to the campus until the latest national lockdown. We’ve personally delivered food and funds to families in desperate need, and we call to listen to and to boost boys in distress. Remote learning continues daily, even one-on-one,” Rabbi Rosencrantz stresses, adding that teachers, too, are suffering. “Today’s count is 18 teachers ill with corona or in quarantine.” “Our locked-down campus and dormitories are empty,” says Rabbi Doron Taib.
“Since 1 September, our year 7-10 students have studied in their classrooms for just 25 days, with little more for the older boys. The damage may take years to heal.”