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the diversity of their present and the possibilities for their future.

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A Shabbat Rap
Alex Treyger
Here's a little story, I know so well 
about inclusivity; let's ring the bell.
The important concept is inviting the class, 
including everyone and having a blast.
What's the occasion, Ms. J you say, 
and what's causing all the fuss that you're bringing our way.
It's the Parent-Student Handbook with guidelines galore, 
for birthday parties, playdates, and much, much more.
First we made hard copies, then we went green, 
now we're trying raps, you know what I mean?
Did I get your attention? That was my intention. Please read my message, it's a sensitive issue.
Shabbat Shalom, and may our diverse community avoid contention

Dear CJDS Community,

Although I tried the light hearted approach above, I hope that all of our parents will read our birthday party and kashrut guidelines that are found conveniently reprinted from our Parent-Student Handbook, in your School Directory.

One of our goals is for all students to feel included as a member of their class and in order to nurture that sense of belonging in all of our students, we need you, our parents, to partner with us in this sensitive area of social events that are clearly extra-curricular. 

Please understand that for a variety of reasons we ask you to consider not hosting a birthday party on Shabbat or a Yom Tov holiday, as a beginning step. We also want all students to be comfortable at a party. If classmates have an allergy that sets them apart or a food dietary restriction that makes it a challenge to eat the food you want to serve, we hope you can find a way to compromise, so that all students can share in the fun. From the Jewish perspective, we don't want our students to feel they are excluded from eating at a party because they are "too Jewish" or "not Jewish enough."

For these reasons, we have written guidelines that help parents make parties, which are inclusive in number as well as in the food which will be consumed.

We understand that there are different ways of keeping kosher and families who do not keep kosher at all. We respect everyone's life choices. In a school like ours, there is not one standard of kashrut being kept in all of our homes, but we do have a community standard of kashrut which our school follows for all school events. By purchasing pre-packaged kosher foods or ready-made foods purchased from a certified kosher vendor and not baking or cooking anything in your own oven, we are maximizing the inclusivity. In addition, we ask all parents to use the same guidelines whether they keep kosher or not. We ask all parents to use paper plates and bowls, plastic ware and /or paper napkins when entertaining CJDS kids and/or staff for a CJDS event (a class party counts).

So, if you keep kosher,you also cannot bake a cake or other dishes in your oven, and you, too, have to buy packaged foods and use paper and plastic ware. We know that this guideline often frustrates parents who do keep kosher. However due to our desire to create equity for all, we ask everyone to understand this guideline request, which is not intended to infringe on any personal practice, but rather to address parties where the whole class would be invited and is in essence an extension of the school experience. 

Conversely, if you do not keep kosher, you are welcome to and can host a party or a Parent Committee event for CJDS. We will just need you to follow the same guidelines and provide food prepared and served using the community standard and use paper goods and plastic ware. Kashrut, like many other areas of life, involves a level of trust, which we must maintain when we are inviting members of the CJDS community to a CJDS sponsored event.

Offering to get "kosher food" only for those who would eat it creates a culture of exclusion that we are trying to avoid.

We truly value inclusivity, togetherness, and creating community along with a standard of kashrut where no one is relegated to a special table over there. 

For those of you who are not familiar with the language of keeping kosher, we have parent mentors who can help you; just let us know. 

We like to say that we always ask parents to think about how you can do something and not how you can't.

Consider this message both a reminder of our guidelines and an open invitation to email me and continue the conversation.

Shabbat Shalom,

Ms. J (Judy)