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Sat, 27 Feb 2021 01:41:23 -0500
By Shira Deener, Head of School לַיְּהוּדִים הָיְתָה אוֹרָה וְשִׂמְחָה וְשָׂשׁוֹן וִיקַרThe Jews enjoyed light and gladness, happiness and honorEsther 8:16 This verse in Megillat Esther is the culmination of the story of Purim and includes four different words for the triumph of the Jewish people: light, gladness, joy, and honor. Four words to describe … More School Sparks: Celebrating Purim

By Shira Deener, Head of School

לַיְּהוּדִים הָיְתָה אוֹרָה וְשִׂמְחָה וְשָׂשׁוֹן וִיקַר
The Jews enjoyed light and gladness, happiness and honor
Esther 8:16

This verse in Megillat Esther is the culmination of the story of Purim and includes four different words for the triumph of the Jewish people: light, gladness, joy, and honor. Four words to describe their state upon their salvation from Haman’s evil scheme. Why do the writers of the megillah use four words when only one word would be sufficient? Commentators ascribe different meanings to each of these terms, such as specific mitzvot that the Jewish community was able to reclaim with their newfound freedom from religious persecution. Another interpretation is that only all of these words together can properly describe the depth of the rejoicing among the people. Another perspective is that there are many kinds of happiness, each one a little different from others, and all types were present and welcome on that joyful day.

We have many reasons to increase our happiness this Purim as we pause and celebrate this week. We are grateful to commemorate the victory of courageous Jewish leaders so long ago. We are joyful that we have reached “hazman hazeh,” this time in our year, still together in our school building, learning side by side. We are happy for a reason to smile and bring smiles to the faces of those around us in the middle of a very difficult time for many people.

We wish you a happy and festive Purim!

Can you find Persia on a map? Our students can!

Last Friday, the first ever online JCDS Geography Bee took place on Zoom! Normally, the Geo Bee is a national competition run by National Geographic in which JCDS has participated for a number of years. However, when National Geographic announced it would not be running the competition this year, Middle School Humanities/Social Studies teacher Josh Mocle felt that this beloved JCDS tradition should continue and that the show must go on! Pulling together a bank of questions left over from past competitions, Josh created an original competition format that worked over Zoom and led to an exciting, occasionally nail biting, competition.

The student competitors from Grades 5-8 – cheered on by their classmates, teachers and parents – competed with grit, wit, perseverance, and confidence. Ultimately, it was 7th grader Yochanan Cramer who was crowned as this year’s champion. Yochanan is the first student in JCDS history to achieve this win THREE YEARS IN A ROW and will receive a year-long subscription to National Geographic Magazine, courtesy of JCDS! Congratulations as well to our second and third place winners, Luke Kraus of 5th Grade and Matan Lerner of 8th Grade! 

The School Sparks blog appears periodically by various writers among the JCDS educational team. Learn more about JCDS, Boston’s Jewish Community Day School.

Fri, 12 Feb 2021 16:24:19 -0500
By Shira Deener, Head of School Here at JCDS, we strive to create a community where our students and families can show up as their complete selves with their own unique identities and life experiences. That is how we measure the strength of our community, and nowhere is that more clear than when we see … More School Sparks: Even the Worst of Times Brings the Best of Times

By Shira Deener, Head of School

Here at JCDS, we strive to create a community where our students and families can show up as their complete selves with their own unique identities and life experiences. That is how we measure the strength of our community, and nowhere is that more clear than when we see our students giving back to the community and to one another in ways that are unique to their personality and interests. They give of themselves to one another with great generosity of spirit.

I hope you enjoy this piece by Joanne Baker on the 8th Grade service projects, each a wonderful and unique reflection of the student spearheading the effort.

Even the Worst of Times Brings the Best of Times
By Joanne Baker, Rosh 8th Grade

…וְכָל הָעֲמֵלִים עִם הַצִּבּוּר, יִהְיוּ עֲמֵלִים עִמָּהֶם לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם, שֶׁזְּכוּת אֲבוֹתָם מְסַיַּעְתָּן וְצִדְקָתָם עוֹמֶדֶת לָעַד
(פרקי אבות ב׳,ב)

“All who work for the community should work for the sake of Heaven, for the merit of the community’s forefathers will help them, and their righteousness endures forever…״
Ethics of the Fathers, 2:2

Even the worst of times brings the best of times, thus despite the limitations Covid has put on the 8th graders’ In-School Service Projects, our oldest students have still found meaningful and beautiful ways to fulfill their missions and “go beyond themselves, identify a need in the school, and create an in-school service project to enhance, help, or elevate individuals or classrooms at JCDS.” How remarkable these young adolescents are in their commitment and service to the community, even though an abundance of caution has necessitated that many of this year’s projects take place outside the walls of our school.

Having to remain at a distance makes working closely with others tricky, yet each 8th grader has designed a purposeful personal project to go beyond JCDS and into the greater community at large. Here is a short sampling of these projects in the students’ own words:

I have been writing letters to kids in the hospital to make them feel a little bit better. I add Tic-tac-toe boards or other games, and even my email address, to be in touch with them – hoping this will lift their spirits and make them feel like there are people out there praying for them and their health… ~Yael

Every Tuesday from 5:45 to 6:45 p.m. I spend half an hour on Zoom bonding with a fifth grade student while teaching him more math. I also take pictures of wildlife around JCDS and hope to show people how much nature the area around our school contains. ~Yakir

I am painting a mural on a wall of the gym. There are themes of teamwork, kindness, and helping others in this mural, and I hope that by painting it, I can both add some artwork to the gym and spread positive messages. ~Maayan S.

Weekly, I Zoom with a fourth grade student. Together we work on Hebrew as well as forming a friendship. I think it is a very unique opportunity to meaningfully connect with a younger student and make a [positive] impact. ~Layla

Currently, I am working with Karen [in Admissions] as an “ambassador” for the school. We meet twice weekly to send letters to prospective JCDS students, zoom with parents and/or students who are interested in the school to answer their questions, make gifts/packets to send out to families, and perform other tasks to make sure that anyone interested in coming to JCDS gets to see how welcoming our school is. ~Amalyah

During recess, when the weather permits, I am painting the cement barriers around my school to brighten the atmosphere of the school and to try to make everyone’s day a little bit brighter. I also plan to soon write cards to military veterans or to those in senior citizen homes. ~Noah

Making time to help and give to others is both a Jewish tenet and a basic human imperative. From a very young age, JCDS students grow to understand this value, and by the time they reach 8th grade, it is part of their very fabric. In these difficult times of social isolation coupled with an unusual concern for one’s own health and safety, the In-School Service Project has taken on even greater meaning and purpose as our oldest students go beyond themselves for the common good and well-being of others.

The School Sparks blog appears periodically by various writers among the JCDS educational team. Learn more about JCDS, Boston’s Jewish Community Day School.

Sat, 06 Feb 2021 09:12:09 -0500
February 4, 2021. By Shira Deener, Head of School. The start of February marks the beginning of Black History Month, a time to highlight Black history and to reaffirm our commitment to include Black voices and narratives across all disciplines of study. This week, Kitat Arava (second grade) General Studies teacher, Naomi Greenfield, created a … More School Sparks: Black History is American History

February 4, 2021. By Shira Deener, Head of School.

The start of February marks the beginning of Black History Month, a time to highlight Black history and to reaffirm our commitment to include Black voices and narratives across all disciplines of study. This week, Kitat Arava (second grade) General Studies teacher, Naomi Greenfield, created a new bulletin board outside Kitat Arava with the relevant message, “Black History is American History.” When we examine the arc of events and the people who helped shape the unfolding identity of our country, to leave out Black history and its heroes would leave us with the presence of a vast absence. Critical voices and stories of Black people who helped form what is today’s United States of America would provide an incomplete understanding of our country’s history. To this end, Kitat Arava will learn about one such hero each day of this month, add their photo to the bulletin board, and create a book celebrating these heroes for each student to take home.

Students learned about the life of the first Black female astronaut, Dr. Mae Jemison, including second graders and Nitzanim (Kindergarteners), who watched an interview with Dr. Jemison to learn about her life and accomplishments. In Kitat Tamar (5th grade), during Open Circle, students explored the meaning of discrimination and began to make authentic connections to Black History Month.

In this last year in particular, we have experienced the next chapter in the Civil Rights Movement, demanding change in the way Black people are treated in our country and petitioning for policy changes that will give Black members of our communities the same opportunities that other groups have enjoyed for hundreds of years. In Sanhedrin 39b, the Talmud quotes the Mishna:

“And this serves to tell of the greatness of the Holy One, Blessed be He, as when a person stamps several coins with one seal, they are all similar to each other. But the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He, stamped all people with the seal of Adam the first man, as all of them are his offspring, and not one of them is similar to another. Therefore, since all humanity descends from one person, each and every person is obligated to say: The world was created for me, as one person can be the source of all humanity, and recognize the significance of his actions.”

This verse emphasizes that human equality is not only about recognizing the image of God in every human being, it is about the right of every person to know unequivocally that God created this world for them, with equal power to improve it in their lifetime. As Amanda Gorman wrote in her inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb,” “We cannot just have a vision of justice/We must be able to envision ourselves in that vision/for justice to be served.” This Mishnaic quote lays the groundwork for a societal human equality beyond mere tolerance, that includes the joyful, purposeful membership of all human beings in our world, family and community.

During Black History Month, we strive to bridge that gap from basic acceptance and dignity to a higher level of shared purpose, common joy, and equal access to the development of our world. By learning about Black history and stories, our students begin to “envision [themselves] in that vision” of justice and become equal contributors to a better future for all people.

The School Sparks blog appears periodically by various writers among the JCDS educational team. Learn more about JCDS Boston’s Jewish Community Day School.

Sat, 06 Feb 2021 09:11:13 -0500
January 28, 2021. By Shira Deener, Head of School. Woven through the books of Tanakh, in the telling of the stories of kings and prophets, and then out of the Biblical canon and into the Talmud, trees have always held powerful symbolism in Jewish text. From the Garden of Eden in בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית (Book of Genesis) … More School Sparks: Tu Bishvat

January 28, 2021. By Shira Deener, Head of School.

Woven through the books of Tanakh, in the telling of the stories of kings and prophets, and then out of the Biblical canon and into the Talmud, trees have always held powerful symbolism in Jewish text. From the Garden of Eden in בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית (Book of Genesis) to the conquering of the ancient Land of Israel in דְּבָרִ֗ים (Deuteronomy), the tree is often used to teach a lesson or symbolize values such as respect, peace, home or safety.

In last week’s Al HaPerek we discussed inaugural invocations, or prayers, as a way to communicate values and set intentions for the future.

The Inaugural Poet, Amanda Gorman, quoted the prophet Micah, who wrote,

“וְיָֽשְׁב֗וּ אִ֣ישׁ תַּ֧חַת גַּפְנ֛וֹ וְתַ֥חַת תְּאֵֽנָת֖וֹ וְאֵ֣ין מַֽחֲרִ֑יד”

“And every man will be sat under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid.”

Amanda’s words evoked the tranquility of resting safely with no one to fear. Tanakh is full of similar symbolism around trees, and this week our seventh grade examined many of these examples in honor of Tu Bishvat.

Guided by teachers Jonah Peretz-Lange and Oren Kaunfer, middle school students explored the role and symbolism of trees in Tanakh narratives and thought deeply about what a tree represents in each of those stories.

Once each student decided on the meaning of the tree, they created an artistic garden sign representing that word and planted it in a pot surrounded by flowers to create a living, growing visual of their interpretation.

Sixth grade students also created art related to Tu Bishvat this week, painting canvases connecting the Shivat Haminim, the seven species (wheat, barley, grapes, fig, pomegranates, olives, and dates) to narratives in B’reisheet, such as Gan Eden, the flood, and Avraham’s visit from the angels. Their work will be displayed in a Tu Bishvat art gallery that we look forward to sharing with you next week.

The Kindergarteners also joined in with their own artistic interpretations, reading העץ הנדיב, The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein and drawing pictures of all the gifts that the tree gave to its friend in that classic children’s story. At their own level Kindergarten students discussed how the generous tree is a symbol of everything the natural world provides for us and the importance of gratitude for these gifts.

This week students of all ages had the opportunity to think deeply about what trees represent in text and how our interpretations of these symbols can enrich our understanding of what is precious in our world.

The School Sparks blog appears periodically by various writers among the JCDS educational team. Learn more about JCDS, Boston’s Jewish Community Day School.

Sat, 06 Feb 2021 09:10:22 -0500
January 21, 2021. By Shira Deener, Head of School. Prayer is a rich Jewish tradition, marking the passing of each day and providing the rhythm and soundtrack to the Jewish year. Jewish tradition teaches that there are three foundational types of prayer: prayer of praise, prayer to show gratitude, and prayer to request that which … More School Sparks: Prayer

January 21, 2021. By Shira Deener, Head of School.

Prayer is a rich Jewish tradition, marking the passing of each day and providing the rhythm and soundtrack to the Jewish year. Jewish tradition teaches that there are three foundational types of prayer: prayer of praise, prayer to show gratitude, and prayer to request that which we do not have.

There are specific moments that seem to call out for prayer, for inspiring words that will refine our focus and light the way ahead. The inauguration of the President of the United States traditionally opens with religious invocations, or prayers, delivered by clergy. At a previous inauguration, Rabbi Marvin Hier quoted Tehillim, Psalms, and added his own blessing for the next four years. He prayed, “The freedoms we enjoy are not granted in perpetuity but must be reclaimed by each generation. As our ancestors planted for us, we must plant for others.” Inauguration day is a historical moment at the beginning of every American presidency and lends itself to the voicing of hope and intention.

In this historic moment as we stand at the beginning of a new presidency in our country, what do we feel called upon to pray for? Who will we be inspired by now, and what intentions will we set this week? How do we heal and how do we choose to move forward?

Inspired by Langston Hughs’ poem, “I Dream a World,” Alonim (fourth grade students) wrote their own poems of hope for the next four years.

I dream a world where
Grass grows and birds sing
Where planes fly and oceans are clear
Where whales swim alongside boats
Where things are equal and fair
Where everything is to share

By Kiva W.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, in his book, To Heal a Fractured World, wrote that every life has its task, every moment its call. It is our prayer this historical week that we seize this moment to listen for that call and set our best intentions for the years ahead.

The School Sparks blog appears periodically by various writers among the JCDS educational team. Learn more about JCDS, Boston’s Jewish Community Day School.

Sat, 06 Feb 2021 09:09:45 -0500
January 14, 2021. By Shira Deener, Head of School. In this challenging and complex moment in our world, we believe that it is our responsibility to help students make sense of current events in age-appropriate ways. Guiding students as they examine the issues that are at play in our national and international community has always … More School Sparks: Power

January 14, 2021. By Shira Deener, Head of School.

In this challenging and complex moment in our world, we believe that it is our responsibility to help students make sense of current events in age-appropriate ways. Guiding students as they examine the issues that are at play in our national and international community has always been integral to our pedagogical approach here at JCDS, but this year we find ourselves re-engaged in the important process of learning and listening as a community. What does Social Justice mean at JCDS? How can we be even more intentional about the process of learning and reflecting with our students? What are ways to make the process as important as the knowledge that results?

Following the disturbing events at the Capitol this week, students in Dorit Zmiri’s 8th grade Tanakh class reflected on the theme of power as it plays out to the story of Yossef. One student commented,

“Power is a delicate thing and you have to use it extremely wisely, and carefully. Also, people with power can use their power more carefully when they’ve experienced the repercussions of power firsthand, like Yossef was able to the second time around.”

This reflection holds subtle commentary on the impact leaders have to inspire or incite. Further, the leaders who have themselves been subjected to a negative impact of power feel more empathy and wield power more wisely than those who have never faced suppression or marginalization in their own lives.

Another student wondered in response whether Trump is an example of a leader who is accustomed to having power given to him freely or whether he displays empathy in his decision making. This high-level conversation on the distribution of power and the role empathy plays in the effectiveness and moral decision-making of a leader will remain with these students long after these daily headlines pass.

Even more importantly, perhaps, is the way that these classroom discussions were conducted with great care and respect, piecing together what occurred and using truth and empathy to guide students through what is, even to adults, a scary and confusing situation. Students as young as first and second grade discussed the basic details of the choices that were made, how many people can get swept up in a narrative that is not truthful, and reassured that they are safe at school and at home. Skills such as the ability to pause, to think critically and rationally, to identify the choices that people made in bewildering situations, will all stay with these young students as they encounter future events.

This approach values the process of discussion, civil discourse skills, and learning instead of encouraging debates for their own sake or the rush of “winning” a divisive argument. It is a practice that does not shy away from competing narratives and complex situations, giving students the practices of mind that they need as they think critically and empathetically about their world as they grow up.

As it says in Avot 5:17, “Every machloket (conflict) which is l’shem shamayim (constructive, for the sake of learning) is destined to endure. And that which is not l’shem shamayim, is destined not to endure.”

כָּל מַחֲלֹקֶת שֶׁהִיא לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם, סוֹפָהּ לְהִתְקַיֵּם. וְשֶׁאֵינָהּ לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם, אֵין סוֹפָהּ לְהִתְקַיֵּם. אֵיזוֹ הִיא מַחֲלֹקֶת שֶׁהִיא לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם, זוֹ מַחֲלֹקֶת הִלֵּל וְשַׁמַּאי. וְשֶׁאֵינָהּ לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם, זוֹ מַחֲלֹקֶת קֹרַח וְכָל עֲדָתוֹ:

The commentator Bartenuro expands on the topic and adds that when conflict is l’shem shemayim the people involved will endure. The relationships will continue to bloom, the humanity of those discussing will blossom and endure far beyond the debate itself.

This is what we most wish for our students at JCDS. We want these discussions to be l’shem shemayim. Safe, productive, constructive conversations in which humanity and relationships are nurtured and where critical thinking can take root.

Thank you for joining with us as we listen and learn this year about social justice and how we can bring this process to our students in the most intentional and productive way. We are pleased that so many of our JCDS community members have joined us for our virtual coffee series focused on social justice, and we look forward to continuing this conversation together as a community.

The School Sparks blog appears periodically by various writers among the JCDS educational team. Learn more about JCDS, Boston’s Jewish Community Day School.

Sat, 06 Feb 2021 09:08:03 -0500
December 17, 2020. By Danielle Smith, fourth grade General Studies, and Inbal Elkayam, 4th grade Hebrew and Judaics. Kitat Alon (fourth grade) dives deep into t’fillah “Baruch she’amar”. Students discussed the meaning behind the t’fillah “Baruch she’amar,” the primary line translated as “G-d spoke and the world came into being.” In small groups, Alonim discussed … More School Sparks: How Can Our Own Words Create or Make Change?

December 17, 2020. By Danielle Smith, fourth grade General Studies, and Inbal Elkayam, 4th grade Hebrew and Judaics.

Kitat Alon (fourth grade) dives deep into t’fillah “Baruch she’amar”.

Students discussed the meaning behind the t’fillah “Baruch she’amar,” the primary line translated as “G-d spoke and the world came into being.” In small groups, Alonim discussed the t’fillah and collaborated on how they wanted to represent the prayer. Students created a short video representing the prayer, using iMovie as well as a variety of art supplies to create props. Some students went with the more literal translation of G-d speaking and creating the world, and other students chose to think about how our own words can create worlds and be a beacon for change.

Some students discussed the meaning of the whole t’fillah while others discussed small parts. Some of the groups discussed the literal meaning, that G-d created the world with his word and the process of the seven days of creation, and some groups examined humankind as godly creatures. Students explored how, if G-d created the world with his words, can we change the world with our words? What can we do to make this place better?

Some students made the the connection between the t’ffilah to Bereshit (Genesis), and some students made the connection to current events and what they think needs to be changed. It was really interesting to see the process and the differences between the groups and the final outcome.

The School Sparks blog appears periodically by various members among the JCDS educational team. Learn more about JCDS, Boston’s Jewish Community Day School.

Sat, 06 Feb 2021 09:06:47 -0500
December 10, 2020. By Shira Deener, Head of School. Chanukah conjures up fond memories of plump sufganiyot (jelly donuts) with raspberry jelly centers, crispy latkes dripping excess oil on thick piles of paper towels, and games of dreidel with my children that never seem to have an obvious endpoint. Where did this favorite holiday game originate?  Our … More School Sparks: A Chanukah Message

December 10, 2020. By Shira Deener, Head of School.

Chanukah conjures up fond memories of plump sufganiyot (jelly donuts) with raspberry jelly centers, crispy latkes dripping excess oil on thick piles of paper towels, and games of dreidel with my children that never seem to have an obvious endpoint. Where did this favorite holiday game originate? 

Our best understanding of its origins trace back to an Irish gambling game that made its way to Germany in the late Roman period. The game was known as “Teetotum” and each side of the four-sided top had a letter corresponding to the Latin words for “nothing,” “half,” “everything,” and “put in.” Once the game arrived in Germany, it became known as “Trendel” and Jews living in the community soon adopted the game giving it the familiar Yiddish name, “Dreidel.” Each side was transliterated into Hebrew letters corresponding to Yiddish words for “nothing” (nun), “half” (hey), “everything” (gimel), and “put it” (shin).

When the dreidel game reached non Yiddish-speaking communities, people began to assign meaning to the four letters that still exist on this traditional spinning top. A favorite explanation — and, in fact, the only one that stuck — was that each letter corresponded to the Hebrew words “nes gadol haya sham נס גדול היה שם” (A Great Miracle Happened There). During the period of the Old Yishuv (the community of Jews living in pre-State Palestine), the dreidel became known as a “sevivon” in modern Hebrew. Not only was the name of the game changed, but the four letters were altered to reflect where the miracle of Chanukah occurred. The “sham/שם” for “there” was therefore replaced with “po/פה” meaning “here” in Israel. So, depending on where you play the game, you will either land on “po” or “sham,” ” here or “there.”

I’d like to suggest that we think about “here” and “there” a little differently, especially during the uncertain times we are living through today. Here and there does not only differentiate between physical locations; we can also think of a more spiritual relationship to these words. What does it mean to be psychologically present? Are there moments we find ourselves more focused and present? Learning how to stay “po” — here, or present — has its many rewards and is, in fact, intentionally integrated into the JCDS educational program. 
Being present is the very essence of the practice of mindfulness. Learning to be more mindful is about focusing on the here and now, rather than on what has been or what will be. Staying present is a way to reduce anxiety and stress, and to build the capacity to better focus as we navigate our frenetic and fast-paced world.

As the recipient of a multi-year grant with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality (IJS), our school has learned how to provide teachers and students with the tools necessary to remain “po.” Jewish mindfulness, meditation, reflective text study, contemplative prayer, ethical behavior (middot), and embodied practices like yoga and singing are the pillars of the IJS approach. Mindfulness is practiced throughout the world, but with the thoughtful guidance of IJS, JCDS has combined these practices with a Jewish focus.

As we anticipate the excitement of this year’s Chanukah celebrations, I urge you to spin the dreidel with a spirit of fun, healthy competition, and to use this game as an opportunity for mindfulness and centeredness. Perhaps this is a time to reflect on the ways in which you may find yourself feeling grounded, present and whole — and the places where you are not yet “po,” or as “here” as you would like to be. As we all strive for feelings of groundedness, I wish for you a Chanukah filled with light, warmth, and shalom

Chag Sameach!

The School Sparks blog appears periodically by various writers among the JCDS educational team. Learn more about JCDS, Boston’s Jewish Community Day School.

Thu, 19 Nov 2020 09:35:44 -0500
Dear Friends and Fellow Parents,We hope you are well and that you and your kids are getting as much out of JCDS as our family is this fall. Some of you know us as Miriam’s (3rd grade) and Reuben’s (1st grade) parents. We are writing to ask you to reflect and act on what you … More A Message to Parents from Deb Gaffin and Richard Bennett

Dear Friends and Fellow Parents,
We hope you are well and that you and your kids are getting as much out of JCDS as our family is this fall. Some of you know us as Miriam’s (3rd grade) and Reuben’s (1st grade) parents. We are writing to ask you to reflect and act on what you can do as parents to sustain and advance the School. Specifically, we ask you to join us in giving what you can to support JCDS this year, and in particular to take advantage of the generous $100,000 match which has been offered by one of our donors.
We hope you have already seen Shira’s video message to the school community and understand that the School is seeking exceptional financial support to navigate this year’s special circumstances. Understanding how important parent giving is to the ongoing success of the School and the experience of JCDS students, we urge you to join us in supporting both the COVID and the annual parent appeals. Here are some reasons we believe it is important.
First of all, we pay tuition to send our kids to JCDS and this is a significant commitment for all of us. Education is expensive, and the intensive and intentional education JCDS provides, with multiple teachers in small classes, makes it even more so. We all appreciate that JCDS does not waste money on frills, but rather invests in great teachers and a nurturing learning environment. The reality is, however, that tuition does not cover the true cost. Every private school looks to parents’ generosity to deliver on its mission. It is even more important for a young, small school such as JCDS to raise financial support from parents over and above the cost of tuition. JCDS depends upon the generosity of parents, alumni, alumni parents, grandparents, families, and the wider community to survive and thrive.
This year, as we know only too well, COVID has changed everything. Shira and Gavi and the entire team have worked tirelessly to develop a sustainable mode of operation for the School, investing in new equipment such as filters, tents, computers and desks; new classroom layouts; new instructional strategies; and so much more, to make it possible for our kids to learn from each other and from their teachers, in a safe and nurturing environment. These costs have been and continue to be substantial, but are not reflected in our tuition dollars.
We feel very fortunate to be able to send our kids to school at this time, and to know they are being given every opportunity to learn and grow and have fun as children should. We are fortunate to have teachers and staff who care about each individual child and who build relationships with our children and serve as role models for them. We are fortunate that our children are able to learn to read, speak, and understand not just English, but Hebrew too; and that they are given insights into the values, wisdom and history of our Jewish traditions. We are fortunate that our children are encouraged to reflect on how their actions can help or hurt others; that they are given the opportunity to think about and the tools to solve problems of all kinds, from math and engineering to peer play and surprise emotions; and that they are educated to believe that if they persevere and stay brave they will learn new things and conquer new challenges.
Because we value these and so many other things about JCDS, we choose to give to the JCDS Annual Fund and to the COVID Campaign. Please join us in giving at a level that reflects the value you see in the extraordinary work of the School. 

Thank you!
Deb Gaffin and Richard Bennett

Thu, 12 Nov 2020 10:19:09 -0500
by Erin Lashway, Development Associate In this age of social distancing, JCDS has needed to be creative about the ways students can have fun and be active together. While the pandemic impacted signature experiences like the annual 8th grade New York trip, the current reality has given rise to new ways of building community. Thanks … More School Sparks: The Power of Ping-Pong

by Erin Lashway, Development Associate

8th grader Maayan enjoys a game of
ping-pong with her mother,
Head of School Shira Deener.

In this age of social distancing, JCDS has needed to be creative about the ways students can have fun and be active together. While the pandemic impacted signature experiences like the annual 8th grade New York trip, the current reality has given rise to new ways of building community.

Thanks to the fundraising efforts of Lisa Wasserman Sivan, as well as the support of parents and students from the Class of 2021, students are enjoying a brand new outdoor ping-pong table! JCDS is grateful to everyone who has helped provide students with new ways to have well-rounded social and educational experiences.

The Class of 2021 is putting this fun game to good use, and the school appreciates the positive difference the ping-pong table will make for students now and in the future.

The School Sparks blog appears periodically by various writers among the JCDS educational team. Learn more about JCDS, Boston’s Jewish Community Day School.

Boker Tov JCDS: A Student-Led Podcast

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Dr. Susie Tanchel and Oren Kaunfer Receive National Awards from The Covenant Foundation


Dr. Susie Tanchel, Head of School of the JCDS, Boston's Jewish Community Day School in Watertown, MA, was one of three recipients nationwide of the prestigious 2018 Covenant Award for exceptional educators at The Covenant Foundation's annual ceremony in New York. The award is designed to honor and celebrate those who have made an impact on Jewish life through innovative educational practices and models.

In addition, Oren Kaunfer, Spiritual Educator/Leader of the Jewish Life Team at JCDS, was among five recipients honored with The Pomegranate Prize for emerging Jewish educators bringing fresh promise and deep commitment to continually elevating the field of Jewish education.

“It is very special for JCDS that, for the first time, two members of the staff of the same school are being honored in the same year by The Covenant Foundation and recognized for their accomplishments," said Arnee R. Winshall, Founding Chair of the JCDS Board of Trustees.

“Susie's extraordinary work in re-visioning pluralistic day school education shines a bright light on JCDS as an innovative, pioneering model of 21st century day school education within the Greater Boston Jewish community, on a national level, and beyond," said Elizabeth Waksman, President of the JCDS Board of Trustees, in sharing the news of the school's awardees.

Established in 1991 to honor and celebrate those who those who have made an impact on Jewish life through innovative educational practices and models, the Covenant Award is presented to three educators every year after a rigorous selection process. Along with Tanchel, the 2018 Covenant Award recipients are Naomi Ackerman, Founder and Executive Director of the Advot Project Los Angeles, CA, and Deborah Newbrun, Senior Jewish Educator and Director Emeritus at Camp Tawonga, San Francisco, CA. The Covenant Foundation is a program of the Crown Family Philanthropies.

Accepting the award from Keating Crown, Dr. Tanchel said,“It is our highest hope that our children will use their hearts, minds, and souls to impact their Jewish community -- but if this is as far as their goodness spreads, then we have failed in our mission, for it is our sacred responsibility as Jewish educators to also nurture and challenge our children to understand that working for a better society is their birthright."