The Yeshiva of Central Queens (YCQ) prepared for the new year with the first Parent-Child learning program. On Motza’ei Shabbos, August 28, Rabbi Shmuel Marcus, Senior Maggid Shiur at Beis Medrash L’Talmud at Touro’s Lander College for Men and rav of the Young Israel of Queens Valley of Kew Gardens Hills, joined YCQ staff, students, and their parents for an evening of inspiration, followed by a beautiful S’lichos led by Rabbi Moshe Hamel, JHS assistant principal of Judaic Studies.

Rabbi Marcus spoke about what we can learn coming from this global pandemic, and that is that HaKadosh Baruch Hu is saying to us, “Hear Me, see Me, relate to Me, pray to Me.” We need to acknowledge that Hashem is part of our lives. He is saying hello and wants us to answer. As we approach the Yamim Nora’im, He wants us to make a connection, and now is the time to make this connection in a very personal way. Rabbi Marcus explained that t’shuvah is based on an attitude of simplicity. Forget what you have done; focus on the here and now. Realize that you have one task ahead. Daven right now with kavanah; do not worry about what you have done before or what you will do. Start right here and right now. He offered the message that each of us has the potential, and it starts with this connection to Hashem.

For two days prior to the return of our students, staff participated in orientation and workshops. They had the opportunity to hear words of chinuch from Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, renowned lecturer and educational consultant, who as keynote speaker welcomed everyone back and offered words of encouragement and support.

Following the staff orientation, nursery and kindergarten students and their parents were invited to the Parent Teacher Organization’s annual Pre-School Bash. Students sat at tables with other students in their class and had the chance to meet their teachers and classmates and enjoy a project for Rosh HaShanah. The PTO started this program a few years ago to help the youngest YCQ students adjust to full-day school.

Then the day we have been waiting for arrived. On Wednesday, September 1, over a thousand students and staff members entered through the doors of YCQ to start a new school year. The desk barriers had been removed, affording classes to get back to some sort of normalcy. Though we are still struggling during the uncertainty of this pandemic, teachers have gone over and above to create exciting academic environments in their classrooms and to welcome students to a new year of learning. Laughter could again be heard throughout the halls as students reunited with old friends, met their new teachers, and began to create new relationships. We are looking forward to an engaging and exciting school year.