An ill wind
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An ill wind

'We were lucky'

It was miraculous, said Ruth Gafni, head of Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County in New Milford. The town was “hit hard” over the weekend, she said, trees fell near the school, and the electricity went out. But the school was unscathed.

Schechter had scheduled parent-teacher conferences fot Sunday, and they were postponed to Monday.

On Tuesday, students came to school and enjoyed hot lunches, and the staff made sure everyone had a safe place to stay. “And the kids helped each other,” she said.

“It was miraculous,” she repeated.

Other Jewish day schools in the area also reported being spared.

Considering how hard Teaneck was hit, said Stanley Fischman, director of general studies at Ben Porat Yosef, in Paramus, his school was fortunate in not having any damage. (The Torah Academy of Bergen County, in Teaneck, was closed on Monday.)

Ben Porat Yosef is close to Route 4, and the exit to the street was temporarily closed because of a downed power line.

Some students lived in homes without electricity or heat, so the school gave them hot lunches.

At the Sinai Schools, headquartered in Teaneck, the administrative offices were closed Monday through Wednesday, and classes were not held on Monday and Tuesday. “It was a challenge, but a lot of people worked hard and now we’re up and running,” said Laurette Rothwachs, the dean.

“We were lucky,” said Elaine Weitzman, executive director of The Frisch School, an orthodox co-ed school in Paramus. Some traffic signs on campus came down, the IT system and the electricity went out, and water had to be boiled to be drinkable, she said. But otherwise things were OK.

Still, the school had a special problem: Scholastic Aptitude Tests had been scheduled for Sunday, along with an annual arts evening.

“We had to cancel both,” said Weitzman, “and that affected a lot of students.” Now the school must do some rescheduling.

The Paramus police asked that the school be closed on Monday.

Many students come from Bergen County, she went on, where several communities were especially “hard hit.” With no power at home, “some students were disoriented,” she said. Some stayed in the homes of friends or relatives who did have power.

“We’re now back in business,” she said.

Enid Anziska, executive director of Yeshivat Noam in Paramus, said, “We were relatively unscathed. We had no real damage, no real flooding. It’s not a very exciting story. We’re thankful everyone was safe.”

A tree did fall, but it “fell well,” she said, not landing on the school or in the parking lot but on unoccupied land.

The school was closed on Monday, when some power went out, but the power came back quickly.

“We were more affected by what was happening in Paramus,” she said, where there was no drinking water or electricity, and traffic lights weren’t working. Students were asked to bring in their own water bottles.

Two men lost their lives in the storm, Anziska noted, and the school’s rabbi, Chaim Hagler, phoned the principal of the school attended by their children, to offer counseling or other help.

Yeshivat Noam, like other day schools, does have an emergency plan in place, she said, and conducts regular fire drills.

What happened at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls, in Teaneck? “Not much,” said Rachel Feldman, the administrator. Because Teaneck had declared a state of emergency, the school did close on Monday, but did not lose power.

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