A dragon, sloth, bookworm and firefly were some of the animals in the running. But in the end, it was the fox that was selected as the mascot of Fauquier Jewish Congregation’s religious school.
The idea behind the mascot was to have a symbol to unite students, said religious school Director Dalyah Ronzio.
“They’re really excited to be able to say that they are the FJC foxes,” Ronzio said. “And they’re coming up with different ideas of how they can use that as a mascot. So it seems to have brought a lot of camaraderie between the kids.”
Fauquier Jewish Congregation serves people in rural communities in Fauquier and surrounding counties in Northern Virginia. Members live anywhere from five to 60 minutes from home base in Warrenton, according to Ronzio.
The religious school, which has about 20 students in first through eighth grades, has met virtually since the pandemic began. That change made classes more convenient for the more distant students.
But the jump to digital did come with its own learning curve, said Ronzio. So she created the mascot project in the fall as a way to introduce students to Zoom and virtual learning.
During the mascot brainstorming session, students learned Zoom etiquette, like using the mute and unmute buttons. In October, students nominated animals for mascots, which were added to a Google Doc for them to vote on.
The older kids were asked to nominate animals from Jewish culture. Ronzio said there are a few mentions of foxes in the Torah and there is a midrash about a fox who fasts to be able to slip under a fence to enter a vineyard. Once in, he eats his fill of grapes, but has to fast again to be able to leave.
Ronzio said the moral of the parable is that the only thing a person can take out of this life is the good deeds they do.
The students voted for the fox as a mascot in October. On Dec. 20, the students went on an end-of-the-year scavenger hunt to review what they learned. Ronzio devised 29 challenges for students to complete at home. One was to create and sing a parody of “Adon Olam.”
Another was to find a Jewish-themed stuffed animal. Another was to use toys to spell out the word fox (shu-al) in Hebrew.
“The last day of religious school is supposed to be reviewing what you do for the year,” Ronzio said. “And because we’re on Zoom, we wanted to make it extra fun for them.”
Students were divided into three teams: the fennec foxes, the arctic foxes and the red foxes. The winners would be allowed to submit potential names for the fox mascot, which would then be voted on by all students. The winning name is set to be announced this month.
Sarah Markfield, a school volunteer, said naming the mascot has given the children something to look forward to in 2021. She also said the variety of activities were fun and engaging.
“I was watching my daughter running up and down the stairs, they were looking for things, and really having a great time with her friends,” Markfield said.
Rabbah Arlene Berger said the mascot has created a lot of excitement among the students.
“The students have been incredibly excited about choosing a religious school mascot,” Berger said. “The fox represents the fun and personality of the school community.”