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Introducing Our School Theme: "Im Ein Ani Li Mi Li"
Judy Finkelstein-Taff


Dear CJDS Community,

The first thought that came to mind today is Hineini, we are here! Then, I chuckled as I remembered this Jewish concept was our school-wide theme just a few years ago.

Next, I thought of our theme from two years ago, Yaaleh v’Yavo, higher and higher. This idea of reaching high to bring our students back to campus as we adapt to our “next normal" resonates this year as well. 

Then, as our students and teachers began walking the CJDS halls while adapting to new protocols to keep us all healthy and safe, all I could think about was V’ahavta L’reacha Kamocha, Love your neighbor as you love yourself. How fortuitous it was for us to introduce that theme last year! We never could have predicted how our students would later rely on those ancient words in a modern context.

Our school-wide themes always serve as an anchor to our school year, but this year more than ever, I feel a sense of gratitude for weaving in words of Torah to our school life each year. These ancient words not only guide us and comfort us, but become part of our tool box in helping to repair our world.

Relating our theme to the current environment 

This year, our theme, Im Ein Ani Li Mi Li,  אם אין אני לי מי לי, is often credited to the great Rabbi Hillel which translates to: ‘If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”

I strongly believe this theme offers us a road map for this year. “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” signifies that we must protect ourselves and our families from this deadly virus. We must wear masks, wash our hands frequently, and keep a safe distance from each other. It’s also important to understand these actions help not only us but help to keep our larger community safe. 

In addition, we must uphold the meaning of “If I am only for myself, what am I?” We must ask, what am I without caring about those in my community? 

And lastly, “If not now, when?” reminds us that chesed, our acts of kindness, cannot wait. If a family in our community becomes ill, they might need immediate help with meals now, and not later. If we currently can’t give the amount of tzedakah we’d like to give, we could give what we can now.

Shabbat Shalom,

Ms. J (Judy)