Educating our children in the richness of their past,
the diversity of their present and the possibilities for their future.

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Hakarat Ha Tov-Demonstrating Gratitude
Abbe Roth

Hakarat Ha Tov-Student-Led Chesed-Tzedakah Projects

Our Grade Five students have been leading our school-wide Chesed-Tzedakah projects for the past month. We are still accepting contributions for the Make A Wish Foundation and will continue to do so in January. Grade Five students delivered the contributions to Care for Real which will be distributed to needy families for the upcoming holidays. Care for Real was overwhelmed by the quantity and quality of the items we donated. In addition, our Grade Five students worked in their facility sorting food items, bagging them for distribution and in general helping out. Read more about their experience below!

Thank you to all students and their families who contributed to either, or both, Care for Real or Make a Wish Foundation.

Appreciation comes in many forms as individuals contribute to CJDS in many and diverse ways. Our students are demonstrating Hakarat Ha Tov by sharing our blessings with those who need in the community: Care for Real, visiting the Selfhelp Home and giving the residents a spiritual and emotional lift, as well as writing thank you cards to their teachers.

Hakarat Ha Tov-Faculty and Staff Appreciation from our Parent Committee

Next, appreciation to faculty and staff was demonstrated through the efforts of our Parent Committee. Our faculty and staff gathered together this past Wednesday to celebrate several accomplishments:

  • We finished reflecting and writing documents for our ISACS self-study portion of the re-accreditation (Thank you to our ISACS Co-Chairs for wrapping up our self-study and all of their hard work with our ISACS re-accreditation process: Jill Kushnir LeVee and Abbe Roth)
  • We are finishing the first half of the school year
  • We had many members of our faculty and staff who celebrated simchas like getting engaged, getting married, having babies, moving into new houses, and celebrating B’nei Mitzvah

Adding to the festivities, the Parent Committee provided beautiful expressions of gratitude through cards, many made by students, and gifts for our faculty and staff. By demonstrating appreciation, you feel that appreciation was returned tenfold.

Hakarat Ha Tov-Thank you for contributing to our campaigns!

We also want to demonstrate Hakarat Ha Tov to those of you who have contributed to our Annual and Capital Campaigns as well as to the Invest in Kids (Empower Illinois) initiative instituted by our state government. This scholarship program enables us to help more families receive a Jewish education. For more information about the Invest in Kids scholarship program, please contact our Director of Finance, Liz Erlich.

Lastly, it is not too late to make a tax-deductible donation before December 31st – click here to make your meaningful gift to CJDS!!

Hakarat Ha Tov-Our JFMC Maintenance Crew!

Lastly, before Shabbat, I want to share with you a story that demonstrates how our commitment to Jewish values and Hakarat Ha Tov enriches us as a community and affects our outcomes in a very positive way.

I told the Board during our Wednesday night meeting that one of our demonstrations of appreciation was directed to our wonderful maintenance crew. We invited our crew and Jerry DeAngelis from JUF to join us for a lunch at CJDS. Thank you to Wendy Kline, Director of Operations, for organizing! Our administrators wrote messages of appreciation and Wendy made a card out of the messages. We purchased a cake for dessert and had their individual names written on the cake. Lastly, we gave them each an envelope with a modest token of our appreciation as a gift for Christmas. In addition to the lunch, we take the time day-to-day to say thank you for their efforts, recognizing and supporting their work as best as we can. 

Hakarat Ha Tov-Appreciation from our Maintenance Crew to CJDS

Yesterday, Alex Bahena, our Lead Facility Manager, asked to meet with our administrative team. Alex and Pete Calderon, one of our maintenance staff members, requested the meeting because they wanted to thank us for the ways in which they feel appreciated at CJDS, and how much pride they are taking in their work. To demonstrate that appreciation, they had a gift for us. 

We walked out to the front entrance, and they unveiled their gift. Our maintenance team took one of the beat-up picnic tables that came with the purchase of the property and refurbished it to become an absolutely gorgeous piece of outdoor furniture. They worked nights and weekends, in their off time, and completely replaced the wood and hardware. The picture above doesn't even do it justice to the quality of the craftsmanship. If this were not enough, on the top of the table, they beautifully stenciled the logo of CJDS, including our name in Hebrew, and stenciled the words Tikun Olam along with a Jewish star.

Why did they choose a picnic bench? Because our administrative team this summer took lunch together each day and ate outside on a picnic bench. They wanted to give them a nicer place to sit and eat lunch. The middle school students often hang out on the picnic table to talk during their recess, and they knew it would be nice for them as well.

When I called my oldest son, Avi, last night to tell him about this beautiful act of kindness by our maintenance crew, Avi replied, “Eema, what is it about CJDS? First, your security guards contribute donations to your school, and now your maintenance workers work in their off time to make you guys a gift – I’ve never heard of anything like this!"

The story of yesterday’s demonstration of appreciation just underscores that we are on the right track. Accepting and celebrating diversity, demonstrating values of Hakarat Ha Tov, chesed, tzedakah and tikun olam, along with lifelong and engaged learning, will make our world a better place.

Thank you all: students, parents, grandparents, and friends, Anat Geva, President of Board of Trustees, the members of the Board of Trustees, Cara Gutstein and Brooke Herszage, Co-Chairs of our Parent Committee, and CJDS faculty, administration and staff for all you do for CJDS. I hope if you made it to the end of this message, that you feel a little prouder of the school and organization in which you are investing your time and treasure.

Hoping you all have some time to enjoy your families and relax a bit in the next two weeks. Looking forward to 2019 and completing our ISACS re-accreditation! Finding a naming gift is on the top of the list too!

Ya’alev v’yavo – Rise Up and Aim Higher!!

Shabbat Shalom and Happy 2019,

Ms. J (Judy)