Remarks by Shira Deener, Head of School
Erev Tov, JCDS!
Did you know that we have a tradition of saying goodbye to a section of Torah when we finish learning it? This prayer, Hadran Alach, actually reminds us that we never really say goodbye. Rather, we will return to it, again and again. Like we say, “L’hitraot” – “I will return to you soon.” – it’s never really goodbye.
While our students, staff, and families are not sacred texts, we are each holy – souls that have experienced the beginning, middle, and now (almost) end of another chapter, another school year.
Throughout the past two plus years, we have craved connection, and we were thrilled to have been able to – slowly, slowly – bring back gathering together, in person, as a community. We began the year on this very blacktop. I remember looking out at the parking lot which was jam packed with cars. Cars that carried new members of our JCDS community, returning students and families, and faculty and staff eager to roll up their sleeves and start a new school year. It is fitting that we have returned to this spot as we celebrate the tremendous growth and learning of the 2021-2022 school year.
If you can try to remember way back to the beginning of this year, our students and staff gathered to film the singing of a new song written and taught to us by Natan Kuchar. The song is called: Hadran Alachan – a riff off the Hadran Alach prayer: “I will not forget you. Nor will you ever forget me.”
Like the song, we will not forget the amazing moments of this year and tonight we celebrate all of us, all of you – members of our JCDS community. Some highlights include that:
- We welcomed back – mixed-grade groupings, all-school gatherings, and weekly live Kabbalat Shabbat gatherings.
- We watched in awe as our students, as young as GN, stood up in front of the entire school at the Talent Show, where the magic of JCDS was highlighted. We celebrated students who wanted to demonstrate something uniquely special about themselves – like the very important skill of making a strong pot of coffee.
- We gathered with Nitzanim as they explored “Mi Ani,” who am I, for their Milestone, and witnessed 2nd graders who further learned about who they are, where they come from, and how Jewish immigrants fit into the story of American pluralism as part of their Immigration Unit.
- We had many firsts this year:
- 4th graders took on the challenge of debating the best renewable energy source for their generation and learned to compete with grace.
- We had our first annual 6th Grade Day of Service to the school.
- We enjoyed our first communal 7th Grade Celebration of Writing.
- We piloted an 8th grade Israel Curriculum, where students were challenged not only to engage actively with multiple perspectives on the history of our Jewish homeland, but also to wrestle with the many differing views.
- We were inspired by the reflections of those students who participated in the three-year-long peer-to-peer exchange program between the German International School of Boston and JCDS.
- We piloted an ELL program to support the transition of our Israeli families, and are so excited to expand upon this program next year.
- We deepened connection to one another through TEVA, NYC, MLK service projects, a student craft fair raising over $3300 for Ukrainian refugees, adding to our understanding of an expanded world.
- We had reading and T’fillah buddies, all-school lunch and recess, and many joyful chaggim celebrated as a community.
- We celebrated our Chidon HaTanakh and Math Kangaroo national winners.
- And so much more.
We can’t wait to see what next year brings.
I’d like to take a moment to thank some of the amazing people who have made all of this possible:
Our amazing faculty and staff, our principal, our school nurse, those who work behind the scenes and the front desk. It has been an amazingly successful year because of your dedication and love of our school. Thank you to the Board, led by our intrepid board chair, the parent volunteers, and the Va’ad who constantly fill our stomachs with delicious treats and our hearts with your notes of gratitude. It truly takes a village.
Hadran Alach, after a much deserved summer break, we will return to one another. It is not goodbye. We will return once again next fall!
In the meantime, Kayitz Naim, have a great summer.