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Thank You, CJDS Parent Committee, for a Wonderful Week
Jen Minkus


Dear CJDS Community,

This week we celebrated “Faculty and Staff Appreciation Week,” coordinated by our CJDS Parent Committee. As I began to write this message to you, I found myself on the verge of tears, because reflecting on how our faculty and staff have risen to the occasion during COVID 19 makes me incredibly emotional. These days, we are busier and more pressured than when we work “live” on campus at CJDS. I couldn’t be more appreciative of the incredible level of commitment and dedication our faculty and staff are putting in to ensure our students continue being engaged in learning.

For one, they work so hard to stay connected with each and every student, often working with their own children by their side at home. On another level, they are working to create lessons and learning experiences which continue to reflect our progressive education model, in a totally new platform. Our Educational Leaders and our Operations Team members as well, who always work behind the scenes to support the faculty and our school, are also working in remote and stressful environments and must think outside of the box to keep our school moving forward. We are really fortunate to have such a dedicated and talented group of Faculty, Educational Leadership, and Operations Team.

But to tell you the truth, I think I was also feeling emotional because our Parent Committee really knocked it out of the ballpark in demonstrating the appreciation of our parent community to our faculty and staff. Every day this week there was something special happening.

For example, on Wednesday after school we were treated to a magician extraordinaire, Danny Orleans. Parent Robyn Bloomberg led the Appreciation Week extravaganza, introduced Danny and expressed words of appreciation on behalf of the parent body.

Although Danny Orleans was a wonderful surprise, I think nothing can beat the video that Parent Brooke Herszage created of students expressing their gratitude. Many teachers this week told me they cried while watching this video. 

So, thank you to all the parents who supported and participated in the activities this week, and thank you, parents, for what you are doing every day to support your children in this stressful and uncertain environment. You, the parents, are all unsung heroes of this pandemic event, for all that is involved in keeping your households running during this challenging time. As someone who raised a family with three boys, I give you all so much credit. Thank you again for making this week so special and thank you to the CJDS Parent Committee leadership.

To close out the week, on this Mother's Day Weekend, it was my mom’s fifth Yahrzeit today. My mom, Kitty Finkelstein z”l, took a lot of pride in her role of mother to me and my younger sister, Shari. Even though as a professional she was a mechanical engineer, which was very unusual for a woman in her era, Kitty loved her role as a wife and mother. Nothing gave her more pleasure than taking Shari and I shopping at the mall or making Shabbat dinner for family and friends.

Since attending a minyan during this time in person is not an option, it was very meaningful yesterday to recite the Kaddish with Middle School and then again in the late afternoon, I zoomed in with my boys, my daughter-in-law and future daughter-in-law. Again, through the miracle of Zoom, we coordinated the time between Charleston, South Carolina, Los Angeles, California and Chicago, Illinois. My sons shared their memories of Grandma Kitty and I so enjoyed seeing her legacy, her grandchildren and great grandchildren, who all carry some of her best qualities. My mom often dispensed her “wisdom”  through sayings we dubbed ‘Kittyisms”.  She taught all of us to make lemonade out of lemons, to look for the silver linings, or to look at life with a glass half full, not half empty. Zoom has its limitations, but it also has its benefits. Sharing memories of Grandma Kitty on this day was certainly a plus.

I wish my mother could have seen Chicago Jewish Day School. She knew all about it, but she was unable to travel in her last years to see it in person. We all stand on the shoulders of the ones who came before us and I certainly stand on the shoulders of Kitty and Jack Finkelstein, z”l and miss them dearly. May our memories of our loved ones continue to be for a blessing.

Shabbat Shalom,

Ms. J (Judy)