Close
ALUMNI


JCDS News & Notes

חדשות


VIDEOSNEWSLETTERS & ANNUAL REPORTSOUR BLOGBoker Tov JCDSS

Videos


Newsletters & Annual Reports


Annual Report and Fall Nitzotzot (Sparks)

Spring Nitzotzot (Sparks)



Our Blog

JCDSblog
Fri, 07 May 2021 14:05:00 -0400
By Shira Deener, Head of School. God revealed to Adam each generation with its scholars, each generation and its wise men, each generation and its writers, each generation and its leaders. Adam was the only one who saw the lineage which descended from him, until the end of all generations. (Yalkut Shimoni) The Torah dedicates … More School Sparks: L’dor V’dor

By Shira Deener, Head of School.

God revealed to Adam each generation with its scholars, each generation and its wise men, each generation and its writers, each generation and its leaders. Adam was the only one who saw the lineage which descended from him, until the end of all generations. (Yalkut Shimoni)

The Torah dedicates many verses and chapters to the genealogy of families. Many parshiot list the names of the parents, and of their children, and of the next generation of grandchildren. The legacy of remembering those who came before and brought us to where we stand today is a foundational value and principle of a Torah-centered life.

The Yaklut Shimoni, a midrashic Biblical commentator in the 11th or 12th century whose own name remains undiscovered, writes that Adam’s unique honor was that God showed him every generation that would descend from him, each with its own individual contributions, until the end of time. It was the highest honor because it is this progression of generation to generation, name to name, leader to leader, that shows us who we are and who we strive to become.

In December, JCDS observed its very first Day of Learning in memory of Michael Horen z”l, the grandfather of Victoria Gechter. Victoria’s mother, Elisha, approached us about creating a meaningful day of learning to honor his memory and his life’s work.

This week, on Wednesday, May 5th, we honored Betty & Gil Hoffman, z”l with a Day of Learning in their memory. Betty and Gil were the beloved grandparents of Gil Hoffman (First Grade). Gil’s parents, Natty and Carl Hoffman, were excited to honor them on this particular day because May 5th is National Children’s Day in Japan, where Betty and Gil lived happily for many years. One of the ways that Children’s Day is celebrated in Japan is with the flying of fish-shaped flags, called Koi Nobori. When the flag is hung, the family says a prayer that their children should grow up strong and healthy. It is a day of celebration and hope for the future of the next generation, which seemed like the perfect day to honor the memory of Betty and Gil Hoffman.

Nikki Cohen, First Grade General Studies teacher, told her students that one way of honoring people is by doing special things related to their lives. Gil’s class read a book together about this special day and did an art project. The entire school participated in the Day of Learning by doing a related craft, writing wishes for their future, or writing about things that make them happy.

On these special Days of Learning, all learning that happens at school is dedicated in memory of the family members who we are honoring. We are so grateful to the Gechter/Horen and Hoffman families for including the JCDS community as they honor the life and memories of these special and most beloved grandparents. Learning the names and stories of previous generations helps us understand where we come from, the extraordinary legacies we carry, and the many unique contributions each of us can offer to our community in this generation.

Students enjoyed popsicles as a special treat to celebrate Japan’s National Children’s Day.

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, 30 Apr 2021 12:00:00 -0400
By Shira Deener, Head of School. In the wake of the verdict of the Derek Chauvin trial last week, school leaders rose to meet the challenge of how to bring the lessons and values of this difficult moment in history to students. Teachers in all grade levels approached the topic in ways that were appropriate, … More School Sparks: Action In Justice

By Shira Deener, Head of School.

In the wake of the verdict of the Derek Chauvin trial last week, school leaders rose to meet the challenge of how to bring the lessons and values of this difficult moment in history to students. Teachers in all grade levels approached the topic in ways that were appropriate, safe and productive. Guided by JCDS’ Social Justice Group, teachers focused on the frameworks of Justice and Action in their teaching. It was important to give students space to ask questions, reflect, and discuss, and then talk about what they can do themselves. Teachers stayed rooted in the JCDS Habits of Mind and Heart, especially in Multiple Perspectives, Empathy, and Reflection.

Once Lower School students had a chance to absorb the facts of the verdict in age-appropriate detail, they explored the Jewish values of Tzedek (Justice): The moral responsibility to do what is right, Tikkun Olam: Repairing the World, and Pikuach Nefesh: Saving a life takes priority over everything. Classes reflected on these values and what they meant to individual students by quietly communicating their thoughts on large pieces of paper labeled with these concepts. The students then came back together to reflect on what they had learned from this collaborative activity. Teachers closed the session with a reminder of the pasuk in parshat Shoftim,

צֶדֶק צֶדֶק תִּרְדֹּף
“Justice, justice you shall pursue”

This was a reminder that we must constantly be working together towards a more just world. By facilitating conversations in which Jewish sources can be viewed as a resource for making sense of complex events, students are given the tools and the understanding to turn to Jewish values in difficult moments in their own future.

After making space to discuss the trail and verdict and opening the conversation to student questions, Middle School students discussed the concepts of Justice (n.): The moral responsibility to do what is right, Heal (v.): become sound or healthy again, alleviate (a person’s distress or anguish), correct or put right (an undesirable situation,) Accountable (adj): To be held responsible. Students talked about the ways in which these concepts are similar and different to one another and the role each played in this trial and verdict.

In small groups, Middle School students examined this excerpt from Pirkei Avot:

“לֹא עָלֶיךָ הַמְּלָאכָה לִגְמֹר וְאֵין אַתָּה בֶּן חוֹרִין לְהִבָּטֵל מִמֶּנָּה“
“It is not on you to finish the task, but neither are you free to ignore it”

There is so much change that is needed in our world, and the idea of creating real and lasting change can be daunting. As students strive to make sense of long-standing and complicated historical patterns that manifest in current events, this text encourages them not to despair of making an impact. We are urged to all to do what we can in the time that we have. Students understood that if each of us do something small to educate ourselves and others or support those most affected by racism and bigotry, we can make a big difference together with intention, energy and empathy.

This concept immediately resonated with many of our Middle Schoolers, who came up with their own ideas for how to create a better future for all people in our country. Student ideas included using their own spheres of influence to spread thoughtful antiracist materials, such as on social media, learning the stories of leaders in these movements, exploring why Covid disproportionately affected communities of color, and many more. While at first our students were the recipients of the facts and perspective we gave them, they quickly stepped into their own leadership moments and reinspired their classmates and teachers to pursue justice together in ways large and small to make a lasting impact.


We hope that you will enjoy, “Letaken לתקן,” with melody by Oren Kaunfer, words by Reb Nachman, and vocals by Tutti Druyan, Oren Kaunfer, and JCDS’ 2019-20 nigunim t’fillah elective singers. “If you believe breaking can be, you should believe that fixing can be.”

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, 23 Apr 2021 12:00:00 -0400
By Avraham Sosa, Middle School Science Teacher. .אָמַר רַב זוּטְרָא: הַאי מַאן דִּמְכַסֵּי שְׁרָגָא דְּמִשְׁחָא וּמְגַלֵּי נַפְטָא קָעָבַר מִשּׁוּם ״בַּל תַּשְׁחִית״ Rav Zutra said: He who covers an oil lamp or who uncovers a kerosene lamp for no purpose violates the prohibition: Do not destroy (Bal tashchit) since by doing so the fuel burns more … More School Sparks: Bal Tashchit


By Avraham Sosa, Middle School Science Teacher.

.אָמַר רַב זוּטְרָא: הַאי מַאן דִּמְכַסֵּי שְׁרָגָא דְּמִשְׁחָא וּמְגַלֵּי נַפְטָא קָעָבַר מִשּׁוּם ״בַּל תַּשְׁחִית״

Rav Zutra said: He who covers an oil lamp or who uncovers a kerosene lamp for no purpose violates the prohibition: Do not destroy (Bal tashchit) since by doing so the fuel burns more quickly. Talmud Bavli Shabbat 67b:14.

Bal tashchit, according to Halacha, is understood to include senseless damage or waste. In the Talmud, we see references of this principle to wasting lamp oil, tearing clothing, chopping up of furniture for firewood, or killing animals.

In the premodern world of our Sages, everything required an extraordinary effort to cover our basic needs of food, clothes, light, heat, and water. They depended on animal and human power to run the world.

The inefficient use of oil, destruction of furniture and clothes, the misuse of tools, or killing animals would seriously impact the life of a household and even cause it to starve or die.

With the advance of science and technology during the industrial revolutions: first (Mechanization and steam power), second (mass production and electricity,) and third (automation, electronic and IT systems), we didn’t depend anymore on human and animal power and we forgot the connection of Bal tashchit and our needs. We can now leave lamps on all day, and waste water or food without thinking about the impact we have on the world.

For that reason, the 6th grade scientists learned where the energy to power our homes and school comes from and how we are wasting energy from the power plants that are burning fossil fuels in order to provide constant electricity. Unlike the oil of Rav Zutra, the fuel seems to never end.

Most electricity generation in the United States today takes place in thermal power plants, which burn either fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, biofuels, or nuclear fuel in order to heat water and produce steam. The steam spins a turbine to produce electricity, which is then fed into the utility grid. Burning these fuels results in the production of carbon dioxide (CO2), the primary heat-trapping, “greenhouse gas” responsible for global warming.

We were delighted that our 6th grade scientists participated in the Eversource Challenge, a contest run by the energy provider. Their grade specific assignment challenged them to write a letter to their parents or guardians, asking them to change their energy habits and become more energy efficient. Students were asked to discuss topics such as energy conservation (for example, turning off the lights) and using energy-efficient technologies like LED bulbs. This opportunity gave students the chance to process all that they had learned and to put it into their own words, tailored to the specific energy needs of their home environments. For example, Alanna ended her letter with the following:

“To conclude, I want you to remember that doing these acts to reduce our daily energy consumption leads to brightening my future in this world. I believe that our family can make a difference if we consider how we consume energy; starting with small measures that build up to make the world a better place”

Our own Nadav was one of the three winners of the regional challenge! His letter included helpful details such as unplugging an electronic device as soon as it has reached full charge, as well as a year-long cost breakdown of LED bulbs versus traditional options.

As Nadav concluded, “These may seem like small things, but if we make more good habits like these, it will all add up to bigger changes. If we also encourage other people to do so, we can make a difference in our communities and the world.”

As we reflect this week on Earth Day and our responsibility for the well-being of our planet and environment, our 6th graders hope that we can incorporate some of these seemingly small changes into our daily lives and improve the future together.


Stay tuned for next week’s School Sparks, where you will learn more about our students’ learning on the days after the Chauvin trial verdict.

As we look ahead to next week’s School Sparks, we hope that you will enjoy “Letaken לתקן,” with melody by Oren Kaunfer, words by Reb Nachman, and vocals by Tutti Druyan, Oren Kaunfer, and JCDS’ 2019-20 nigunim t’fillah elective singers. “If you believe breaking can be, you should believe that fixing can be.”

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, 17 Apr 2021 05:51:00 -0400
By Shira Deener, Head of School. This week, we begin the Jewish month of Iyar and observe two important days on our calendar: Yom HaZikaron and Yom Haatzmaut. On Yom HaZikaron we remember the fallen soldiers and the victims of terror attacks throughout Israel’s history, and on Yom Haatzmaut we celebrate Israel’s founding and continued … More School Sparks: Yom HaZikaron and Yom Haatzmaut

By Shira Deener, Head of School.

This week, we begin the Jewish month of Iyar and observe two important days on our calendar: Yom HaZikaron and Yom Haatzmaut. On Yom HaZikaron we remember the fallen soldiers and the victims of terror attacks throughout Israel’s history, and on Yom Haatzmaut we celebrate Israel’s founding and continued independence. These two days are marked in close sequence, but their observance and tone could not be more different. First we share a day of mourning, a day when the names of every individual lost is displayed on Israeli television and so many families light yahrzeit candles in their homes for the loved ones who did not return. For many Israelis, Yom HaZikaron is not a large and abstract memorial day but a moment when their grief feels as fresh as ever, a day to look at and share old photos and remember the losses suffered on Israel’s painful road to statehood.

And then, in the span of a few hours, a shift in the air and it is Yom Haatzmaut. A proud reminder that these sacrifices were not in vain, for here we stand in a Jewish homeland as so many wished for, for centuries. This is a day about community, of collective gratitude and celebration.

It was important to us that our students experience this juxtaposition for themselves this week. On Wednesday, Yom HaZikaron, students were asked to wear white shirts and dark bottoms to respect and remember the solemnity of the day. Grades 4-8 participated in a solemn ceremony outdoors led by the 8th Grade, with songs performed in Hebrew by grades 5-8.

Then on Thursday, Yom Haatzmaut, it seemed the whole school burst with joy and celebration! Students, dressed in blue and white, hopped aboard a pretend flight to Israel, after presenting their passports at Security, of course. Grades Kindergarten through Fourth Grade played Israel Geo Bingo, took a trip to the mini Kotel on school property to write notes, participated in a Chidon HaTanach Trivia Bowl and even enjoyed an outdoor “Waze” simulation where kids, with the help of their buddies in the Middle School, followed Hebrew directions to travel around the outside of the school. This activity is a celebration of Israel as a start up nation!

Grades 5-8 learned the history and meaning behind Israeli street signs in an art project where they designed and created their own street signs. They participated in “Gadna” Basic Training Bootcamp team-building activities, as well as the Chidon Tanach Trivia Bowl and the outdoor “Waze” simulation, helping younger children navigate school grounds.

Towards the end of the day, the entire school came together in the communal spirit of Yom Haatzmaut to do one art project creating paper mosaics of places in Israel and then ended their “visit to Israel” with a whole-school Israeli dance party outside. It was our intention to give our students a taste of the solemnity and historic importance of Yom HaZikaron and also its joyful counterpart, Yom Haatzmaut, when we celebrate as a community with joy and music.

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, 09 Apr 2021 18:32:01 -0400
By Shira Deener, Head of School In our last weekly conversation, we explored the Exodus story of Pesach and the charge presented to every person to relive the Passover story with each annual retelling. We began to grapple with the idea of history becoming memory, of long ago and far away stories becoming personal experiences. … More School Sparks: Yom Hashoah

By Shira Deener, Head of School

In our last weekly conversation, we explored the Exodus story of Pesach and the charge presented to every person to relive the Passover story with each annual retelling. We began to grapple with the idea of history becoming memory, of long ago and far away stories becoming personal experiences. We found that although this is not always easy, it is possible to internalize these moments of our history to the point where they are components of our own identities. This practice is so important each year on Yom Hashoah V’Gevurah, when we remember the Holocaust and its effects on our collective identities all these years later. As with Pesach, this year we again asked ourselves how we can help our students connect to this history, to these personal stories of resilience, faith and survival.

On Thursday morning, we gathered students for a tekes, a communal assembly, to reflect together on the meaning of the day and the role each of us plays in the survival and continuity of this history. Oren Kaunfer, Madrich Ruchani, explored themes of heroism and resistance with our students, but the most resonant call to action was when Oren described how necessary it is for all of us to seek out stories from survivors of their experiences and the experiences of those who perished. That we must see it as our job as a group and as a generation to ask questions and share the answers so that these stories are not lost.

We then recounted that one of the most powerful, long-lasting ways to honor those who experienced the Holocaust is to get up close to their stories. That is what connects us to events that happened many years before many of us were born and helps us bring those memories far into our future. As we learn to seek out stories, to find out what memories lay behind the familiar faces of the people we know, we learn to connect and expect unshared stories in everyone we meet, and we begin to turn toward others with increased empathy, curiosity and sensitivity.

The 6th and 7th grade explored these stories in the classroom as they toured the New England Holocaust Memorial via the new NEHM tour app. This rich virtual experience, which is available to anyone touring the site in downtown Boston or from home, guides the viewer through multiple stops at the physical memorial, utilizing videos of survivor testimony and paying special attention to the design of the memorial itself. As the tour draws the attention of the viewer to the multiple locations of the word “Remember” on the walls of the memorial, students read:

“While this Memorial allows us to grieve and recall those lost, it also pushes all of us to remember the hatred and evil, as well as the apathy. It reminds us of the bystanders that allowed the events of the Holocaust to take place. The Memorial asks us to ‘Remember’ the events of the Holocaust whenever we see one group of people persecuting another. Remembering this particular history allows us to reflect on our own choices and actions today.”

The faces and voices of the survivors, all of whom are local to the Boston area, and the charge to listeners to bring the lessons of the Holocaust into their own lives and the choices they make, combine to create a powerful and real connection, and made an incredible impact on our 6th and 7th grade students.

Students in younger grades took a closer look at these personal narratives through the lens of art and painting, or by exploring storytelling. Each class experienced an age-appropriate way to connect and internalize the legacy of the Holocaust.

All students encountered the poem “Take a Giant Leap”, written by survivor Sonia Weitz for Holocaust Remembrance Day. It reads, “Come, take this giant leap with me into the other world . . . the other place…” And that is the opportunity that we have tried to provide for all our students this week: the tools to leap into these stories, to learn to look more deeply and sensitively, to take up the task of keeping these moments of history alive for many years to come.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Selections from Tamarim (5th Graders) “Voices from the Ghetto” Art Gallery

After reading the poem, “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” (written by Pavel Friedmann at Theresienstadt Concentration Camp on June 4, 1942), students were asked to reflect and create a painting with this question in mind, “If that voice came to you today, what do you think it would say?”

I Wish to be Free

“The boy I think would want to be free.” 

Luke

Butterfly of Peace

“I painted this because the poem was about butterflies and Shalom means goodbye, hello, and peace. The background is dark because of what happened to the boy.” 

Miriam

Sunset

“Sunset, because as long as the sun rises and sets, you will always be alive.” 

Micah

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, 26 Mar 2021 13:34:00 -0400
By Shira Deener, Head of School. “בְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת עַצְמוֹ כְּאִלוּ הוּא יֶָָצֶָא מִמִּצְרַָים” “In every generation, a person must see themselves as if they left Egypt” The Haggadah describes the obligation of each person that they must see themselves as if they themselves experienced the Exodus and its miracles. Not … More School Sparks: Haggadah

By Shira Deener, Head of School.

“בְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת עַצְמוֹ כְּאִלוּ הוּא יֶָָצֶָא מִמִּצְרַָים”

“In every generation, a person must see themselves as if they left Egypt”

The Haggadah describes the obligation of each person that they must see themselves as if they themselves experienced the Exodus and its miracles. Not only are we obligated in the retelling, or the remembering, or the relearning, it must be personal. 

How, though, can we expect ourselves to imagine that we ourselves were freed from bondage in Egypt? Today we enjoy the comforts and technologies that set the 21st century apart from the trials that ancient Israel faced. How can this story become part of the fabric of who we are? One answer is that we look for creative ways to tell the story so that we integrate it into our identities, our bodies, our hearts and minds. One way we do this is through movement and song, like THIS wonderful video of our 4th graders accompanying the JCDS original melody for “B’chol Dor VaDor” with dancing and sign language. Another is through a deep dive into the texts of the Haggadah as we learned through the 4th grade milestone of last week, when they showcased their deep study of Ha Lachma Anya, Vehi Sheamda and B’Chol Dor V’Dor.

Another approach to making this ageless story personal is to immerse our students in experiential learning opportunities, such as our first ever “Pesach Palooza”. This year we took our usual Chagigat Pesach all-school communal celebration outdoors. We have had the 6-8 Graders working on creating activities and booths for younger students to interact with and enjoy. The stations are challenges or activities that open up and explore each of the 15 steps of the Seder. 

For example, Karpas has become a dipping fishing game where students try to catch the correct vegetable for Karpas. Kadesh is an obstacle course that teaches the 4 verbs of redemption from the Torah that inspired the 4 cups of wine. Another activity is matching pieces of original art to each of the 4 children. Name that tune is the activity for Hallel.  A race against the clock that reviews the steps of making matza. Students in K-5 will move through the Palooza in small, socially distanced, groups as older students guide them through the experiences. The celebration will culminate in an all-school outdoor gathering where the whole community will sing Pesach songs, and the last song we will sing is the JCDS original tune for “B’chol Dor VaDor”. 

By creating and participating in these innovative and fun learning experiences, students experience the haggadah and the Pesach story in a fresh, personal way. They are immersed in creativity, whole-body participation, and community as we celebrate together.

This year is a particularly challenging one for some, as many families are still not able to gather as they usually do for the holiday, but despite these challenges, the story of the Jewish people’s redemption from slavery can be told and experienced in new and creative ways. We are so proud of our students that they rose to the challenge, working together to not only share the narrative of Pesach, but to make it real and personal to every student at JCDS. 

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, 19 Mar 2021 15:35:00 -0400
By Shira Deener, Head of School. It is wonderful from time to time to showcase particular teachers who offered to write a detailed description of their work with their students.  Thank you, Joanne. By Joanne Baker 7th & 8th Grade English teacher/Rosh 8th Grade As Jewish cultures have survived for millennia, so too has antisemitism. Four hundred … More School Sparks: Shylock’s Last Words

By Shira Deener, Head of School.

It is wonderful from time to time to showcase particular teachers who offered to write a detailed description of their work with their students.  Thank you, Joanne.

By Joanne Baker 7th & 8th Grade English teacher/Rosh 8th Grade

As Jewish cultures have survived for millennia, so too has antisemitism.

Four hundred plus years after Shakespeare’s death, the JCDS eighth graders explored The Merchant of Venice and through the careful study of Shylock, the Jewish moneylender, whether the play is antisemitic. Shylock is requested by Antonio, the merchant, to loan him three thousand ducats. Shylock agrees, on the condition that if the loan is not repaid within three months time, he, Shylock, is entitled to a pound of Antonio’s flesh.  The merchant willingly agrees but then unexpectedly defaults on the loan, and according to a notarized document, Shylock, by law, is entitled to his bond.

As Shylock prepares to cut the pound of flesh from Antonio’s chest,  it is noted by the court that while the bond entitles him to the flesh, it states nothing about his taking one jot of blood in the act of cutting, thus making Shylock’s situation impossible.  

In a moment’s time the tables turn, and Shylock, as an “alien” Jew, is accused of conspiring to murder a Venetian citizen. He is then forced to relinquish his fortune to both the state of Venice and his estranged daughter who has eloped with a Christian and is also forced, if he wishes not to die at the hands of his Christian adversaries, to convert to Christianity. 

Shylock leaves the courtroom a silent and broken man.

 ~~~~~ The Assignment ~~~~~ 

The Eighth graders were given two class periods, working in groups of four, to write last words for Shylock to speak before departing from the court ~ to state that which Shakespeare did not allow him the opportunity to do.

Shylock’s Final Words

What doth thou gain from this torture? Is not the hate I receive
each waking day enough to punish an eternity of sins?
All I shall ever desire is to be treated as man, not by bone and
skin, but through regard and perception.
Is not to be human to seek blood?
To yearn for thine enemy’s demise?
My opponent is not solely the wicked Antonio, but the thieving
Christian faith.
My wife is gone, and my only daughter has been swallowed up by
my enemy’s religion, yet all my life I have had my gold and jewels
to fill the gaping void in my heart and my religion as a compass
for my wandering soul.
First thou mock me for these loves, and now with thy cold,
compassionless hands thou doth wrench the only pillars from my
life.
Nay, it could not take one thousand conversions to wash the Jew
from me, and to my deathbed will I take my theology if nothing
else whether it be on the morrow or in a hundred and
twenty years to the age of my father, Moses. So too, like Moses,
have I suffered at the hands of my oppressors. But unlike him, I
have let thou cruelty pestle me into nothing more than a shell of a
man.
Some days I find myself craving the scrutiny to be reminded that I
am worthy of attention and not the monster I see each day I look
in the mirror.
Thou thinkest I am, but a villain, nay. my whole life I have been
only a victim. I am greedy because so much has been stolen from
me. I am vengeful because so many have hurt me. Should thou
force a cross around my neck, the Christians still shall not accept
my Jewish soul, nor shall the Jews then accept mine own being.
Mayhap we do not bleed the same blood, for though I take

money, though I take jewels, and though I strive to take flesh, I
would not, for all the ducats in Venice, take a man’s dignity.

Amalyah, Ma’ayan R, Yakir, Noah, & Lily

Shylock’s Final Words to the Court

Put thy ears to me!
Hurt, scorned, ridiculed; this is I.
By thy Christian hand,
oh to my wretched Christian hand.
Hatred blinds me,
anger chains me like a leashed dog,
sadness doth pierce me through my heart.
Overfloweth my emotions as a drunk doth pour his cup.
And thou the devils that brought this to my life.
Though thou hath not brought a knife to my chest, 
thou hath burdened me with more pain and sorrow,
than any dagger ever could.
Thou cut me open and ripped out my soul.
My daughter, my ducats, my dignity.
What more can thou taketh?
My soul has been reaped,
what left do I possess?
Thou spit, gossip, steal, and spurn.
Thou taketh my bloodline and tarnish my name,
but thou shall never have my beating heart.
For as I could not taketh Antonio’s blood,
thou shall never taketh mine,
my blood shall forever remain Jewish.
Now I sit here in front of thee,
and thou still lookest  me as I’m David and thou, Goliath.
Thou doth not know my pain? 
as thy Christian head never felt this suffering before?

Thou Christians stole my God, 
as thou taketh my child.
Thou stole my red hat,
as thou stole my livelihood. 
I shall never be thy slave,
my Jewish identity shall follow me to my grave.

Maayan DC, Layla, Revaya, and Natan

Shylock’s Final Words

Thou all hast viewed Antonio saintly, 
But hath thinkest me a wretched rat-
Or consider his sins as that of misdeeds. 
Numerous occasions hath he spat on me,
Cursed me with names, 
Cheated me by my ducats,
All because I am a Jew,
And now thou will taketh the source of my vitality,    
In order to humiliate me ever more.              
The Heritage of the Jew hath lasted thousands of years,
Doth a Jew not carry on with tradition?
To thus oral history,
Have I given my life?
Through it I hath lost my loving wife
To the vicious hands of death,
My daughter to the crooked fingers of a Christian.
And to all my precious ducats, you have ripped from my
grasp.
After all thou hast taken, I merely lay as a bare carcas,
Religion is the meaning to my existence,
To that I’ve tethered my life. 
To that I’ve spared my dignity.
All I pleaded was fair justice, 
But thou couldn’t even lend me that,
Now I lay before you stripped of all I own and adore,
If I shan’t have my bond,
I shall secure my religion,
And that I shall take to the grave.

Maayan S, James, Matan, Libby, & Yael

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 Mar 2021 16:37:00 -0500
By Shira Deener, Head of School. As Pesach approaches, we begin to turn our attention to the telling of the Passover story and how the sharing of a narrative has the power to connect us to our history and to one another. Each year, we pull our Haggadot out of storage and the same story … More School Sparks: Storytelling

By Shira Deener, Head of School.

As Pesach approaches, we begin to turn our attention to the telling of the Passover story and how the sharing of a narrative has the power to connect us to our history and to one another. Each year, we pull our Haggadot out of storage and the same story of the Exodus is brought to life again. וְהִגַּדְתָּ֣ לְבִנְךָ֔, “And you shall tell it to your child” (Shmot 13:8) is the primary source for this observance, the annual telling and retelling of the narrative of redemption.

Many scholars have wondered how the same story can be expected to make an impact year after year, and each year we do our best to find something new, something previously unnoticed to inspire and connect us to this same story. But there is also a power to telling the same beloved tale over and over again. It is the old family story of the Jewish people, and hearing it reminds us of where we come from. The familiar phrases and songs bring us back not only to the seders of our past, but also to the past of our people. This story reminds us that we have experienced challenges in our history, and that the faith and resiliency of our ancestors live on in us and will see us through the challenges in our own times.

Last week, Tamarim (5th grade students) experienced the impact of long-told stories when Ruby’s grandmother, Vera Schwarcz, visited us via Zoom to share her knowledge and insight about ancient China. Vera, the Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies at Wesleyan University, prepared a wonderful lesson on Chinese characters, which she calls “the key to all the stories,” and shared a beautiful poem with our students before teaching everyone how to form characters for different familiar words. To have a family member join us to share something of such personal meaning was a rich and significant experience for this class. Vera was able to take a subject that many of us did not know much about and bring it to life with her own insights and passion for the subject. It was so experiential and engaging that the class created a slideshow for Vera to show their thanks for her visit. We know that this experience will stay with them for many years to come.

This is what we hope that the Pesach seder will bring to our families, this year and every year. We hope our students discover the “keys” to the Pesach story that ignite their curiosity and questions. We hope we can bring that same passion, the same insight to the retelling of the Exodus story. We hope that our children will begin to recognize and recall the themes that surface, and that the story of the Jewish people will feel like an old family tale, familiar, comforting and inspiring. This year in particular is a wonderful time for some familiarity and comfort and for a reminder that we are resilient and have what it takes to weather challenges with determination and strength.

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 Mar 2021 00:12:57 -0500
By Shira Deener, Head of School One of the JCDS Habits of Mind and Heart is “applying multiple perspectives” and this is a core component of the way we teach Tanach to our students. The tendency to sort complex situations and arguments into just a few black and white perspectives comes rather naturally to human beings, but … More School Sparks: Multiple Perspectives

By Shira Deener, Head of School

One of the JCDS Habits of Mind and Heart is “applying multiple perspectives” and this is a core component of the way we teach Tanach to our students. The tendency to sort complex situations and arguments into just a few black and white perspectives comes rather naturally to human beings, but with patience and intention, our hearts and minds can be guided to hold nuance and welcome diverse perspectives. The Talmud acts as a map for this approach, illustrating how long-standing differences of hashkafa, world view, are not only tolerated but welcome, and that the most accomplished learning environments include rich and varied opinions. Unlike ancient historical texts in which the victor tells the story from their own perspective, the Talmud honors all opinions by bringing them to life on the page for future generations to examine, even if those opinions were not concluded to be the final rulings in Talmudic debates. We welcome this same complexity into our classrooms as we study Tanach, presenting students with diverse interpretations to biblical verses and then challenging our students to complicate that black and white thinking. 

Our third graders recently celebrated a siyum (a traditional celebration of completing Jewish learning) for Parashat Toldot (the story of Jacob and Esau). With the guidance of their teacher, Meg Lederman, each student demonstrated their learning by selecting and retelling a part of the story from one character’s perspective. The retelling was done in the student’s own words incorporating terminology from the text and reflects the connection that each student has built with the character and that character’s unique experience of the events recorded in the narrative. We invite you to have a look at this extraordinary work in an e-book here!

At the siyum, students read these stories aloud and played “ParaCharades” (an acting game where students had to act out and guess specific biblical verses). And no siyum is complete without food! Students enjoyed Jacob’s red lentil stew, adding another experiential and memorable element to the celebration.  

Each of these components helps our students develop a love of Torah study for its own sake and embrace it as an inspiring resource, informing their values, moral commitments and ways of experiencing the world. By learning to hold competing opinions that evolve their own assumptions, to using the text to create their own personal connection to the characters, to immersing themselves in the learning in an experiential and very real way, our students learn lifelong skills as they form deep and personal bonds to the Torah itself. We are so proud of the Erez (Third Grade) and their accomplishments so far this year!

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, 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.

Boker Tov JCDS: A Student-Led Podcast

LISTEN

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."