Dear CJDS Community,
Our yearlong theme of, “Hineni” has been teaching our students to look at the injustices in the world and say, “ Hineni—Here I am!” We began this study by highlighting people around the world and throughout history who we believed responded to a need in their community by saying Hineni.
With the students, we studied about Hineni moments--What is a Hineni moment? Where does the concept come from? How do we know when we are being asked to be present? What does being present look like? Starting with our youngest students, we teach our students that the world needs repair and part of their job is to “fix the world with their own two hands.”
This past Friday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day when the world remembered the 11 million victims of a genocidal regime. We remember the six million Jewish people, the political dissidents, the handicapped individuals, the gay people, and the gypsies targeted for extinction.
We were shocked and angered that on this exact day the President of the United States signed an executive order barring immigrants entry to our nation, immigrants seeking refuge and a better life for themselves and their children.
Our American tradition teaches us that we are a haven for the tired and poor. A home for the huddled masses.
Our Jewish tradition reminds us ארמי אובד אבי (my father was a Syrian refugee) that our forefathers were refugees.
Our Torah teaches us that God loves the stranger and we should too because we have been strangers in a strange land.
We teach all of these texts in our classrooms. We share the immigrant stories of our grandparents and great-grandparents. We learn about the St. Louis and what happened to Jewish refugees turned away at our border. Our Grade 2 students become immigrants and simulate the immigration process at Ellis Island. In Grade 4, our students participate in Poetry Pals, an organization that brings together Jewish, Muslim and Christian students to fulfill its mission to use creative expression to promote cooperation, understanding and peace in our multi-faith society. We tell our students ‘Never Again.’ And we understand that 'Never Again’ applies to all people, not just too Jewish people.
Our Torah and the framers of our constitution believed that all people were created equal and in the spirit of our Creator. It is our job to remind our leaders of this. Chicago Jewish Day School cannot stand silent.
We have beautiful and inclusive traditions. Now is the time to live up to them. This is a real Hineni moment. Please join us;