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Please do not be too quick to dismiss this narrative, even if it has that very, unfortunately familiar, and uncomfortable word that has been the culprit of total world disruption and disturbance for the past two years. I can assure you that in this story, Covid is not the protagonist but rather a secondary character. The story is truly about that inspiring Jewish optimism and persistence that is typical of our community and clearly delineated by many of our biblical personages. Characters with an attitude to press forward even when things may have looked a bit unstable and without guarantee.

For quite some time, there was a vision of creating an Innovative School art exhibit that would coincide with South Florida’s world acclaimed Art Basel event. The exhibit would be titled Art Mazel, pun intended. In the vision, a big hype would be created, and we would fill our welcome center with children’s art and the excitement of a tumult of spectators gathered enjoying each other’s company. But right when we were about to launch this initiative, Covid set its grip on the world, and everything stopped.

No Art Mazel the first year of Covid. The second year however, I struggled, I was truly beginning to feel that spirit of persistence tickling my soul and after adding and removing Art Mazel from the school calendar several times, I finally opted to optimistically keep it. Will people come… will all efforts be in vain? It did not matter; the attitude was to keep pressing forward.

Art Mazel went up, the children’s beautiful expressions embellished our amazing Welcome Center and people did come, not shoulder to shoulder, but they came. One of our visitors was Andres Naptali, The Producer and Entrepreneur of the world famous Beyond Monet Exhibit. He was so touched by our Art Mazel Exhibit that he extended an invitation for our school to submit one communal art piece to be part of the Beyond Monet exhibit. Wow! What amazing joy, what an amazing opportunity! But what a challenge! I had to design a Monet related art piece in which everyone, from 1 to 100 years old would be able to participate, authentically, in a matter of two weeks! An invitation was sent to the school families and with the support of all the educators in our school, the piece was finished and ready for Beyond Monet’s opening day. Except it did not open. Omicron hit south Florida and that second wave of “life standing still” engulfed us once more. Eventually, opening day came a month later and in spite of Covid our amazing art piece is hanging at the Beyond Monet exhibit proudly representing our school and our Innovative School community.

-Liset Leyva