Courtesy of Nancy Kleinfeldt

Rabbi Azaryah Cohen is delivering personalized lawn signs to graduating seniors, while dressed as the school’s mascot.

In an effort to maintain the sense of the community during social distancing and virtual learning, Rabbi Azaryah Cohen, Frankel Jewish Academy head of school, is supporting graduating seniors and the FJA community by dropping off lawn signs dressed up as the school’s mascot. 

With the help of Seth Korelitz, Director of Jewish Studies at FJA, and Randall Gawel, FJA’s principal, Cohen suited up as the Jag, FJA’s jaguar mascot, and began delivering personalized lawn signs on April 30.  

Through FJA’s campaign, families of the 34 graduating seniors had the opportunity to order personalized senior signs congratulating their 2020 grads. Cohen has also been dropping off “Proud FJA Family” signs to anyone who would like one for their front lawns. They have currently dropped off roughly 30 signs and have had another dozen families reach out asking for signs.  

The signs distributed to FJA families. Courtesy of Nancy Kleinfeldt

“Originally, people were going to pick up the signs because that was going to be the most convenient way to do it,” Cohen said. “But one of the things that is so difficult for our families and students is maintaining the sense of community. We pride ourselves on the community and the relationships we share with our students, so we thought, wouldn’t it be great to provide our students and families with a nice personal touch by dropping off their signs at their houses?” 

They decided to begin doing the senior sign drop-offs on Thursday in the middle of the school day so seniors, with their classmates by their virtual side, would be able to experience this moment together.  

“We thought, imagine the student coming to the door to check out what was going on and they happen to be in the middle of class,” Cohen said. “Not only is it exciting for the students, but it is also exciting for their classmates as well.” 

Cohen, who is no stranger to dressing up as the Jag, volunteered to wear the costume to most of the drop-offs to deliver that extra burst of joy to the students of FJA.  

“There is an assumption that a lot of people have about administrators, particularly, which is that we don’t have time to pay close attention on an individual basis to our students and our families,” Cohen said. “At FJA, that is not true. I think to be able to take the time, even just to make a phone call or send an email to a student, means a lot to that individual student. But then to go that extra step and drive to their house, drop off a sign and check in on them, it demonstrates care for that student and their family.” 

Adin Kleinfeldt, who resides in Huntington Woods, was one of the seniors who Cohen visited last week. While he knew that something like this was certainly coming, he was still surprised and appreciated the dedication that the administration has towards their graduating seniors and families. 

“Obviously for seniors, there are a lot of things that we thought we would be able to do as seniors to finish off our high school careers, but unfortunately these are unprecedented times,” Kleinfeldt said. “But, it’s really nice that our teachers and administration have been going that extra mile and trying to do their best with the circumstances to make sure we have a good ending to our senior year.” 

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