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

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Together Again, B'yachad!
Judy Finkelstein-Taff

Dear CJDS Community, 

“Hinneh mah tov umah na'im shevet achim gam yachad” - Behold how good and how pleasant it is for people to sit together in unity - Psalms 133:1. These familiar words can be found in our siddurim and are commonly sung at Jewish summer camps around the world. This year, these words have been adopted as our school

theme and represent how our sacred texts transcend time and provide a relevant message for our modern world.

I have given a lot of thought to my first message of the school year. While it’s difficult to articulate how I’m feeling, first and foremost I feel a sense of gratitude. I am grateful that we had the summer to reconnect with family and friends and that our school community made it through last year without any in-school COVID-19 transmission.

Secondly, I am feeling inspired by our faculty, staff, and administration. I have felt immensely proud to be the CJDS Head of School as I witnessed our faculty and staff welcome new members to our community over the past few weeks. I felt proud as I listened to the faculty discuss how to meet the needs of students and make detailed plans, sometimes with our Reach Department staff and sometimes with their Hebrew and Judaic Studies counterparts.

I felt proud when I sat in on meetings as teachers discussed integration of disciplines and how to maximize a meaningful education for our students. I felt proud knowing that our students get to attend a school with such thoughtful teachers who go far beyond labeling cubbies and desks in preparation for the school year. Our teachers dig deep to create a classroom environment in which each student’s needs are met in the most educationally meaningful of ways.

The extraordinary partnership between our parents and teachers makes me proud as well. The Hopes and Dreams conferences held earlier this week are key in establishing a relationship between parents and teachers in order to provide the best possible support for the child.

 

It is inspiring to experience how we make Judaism meaningful to our students and their families. The manner in which we sound the shofar prior to Rosh Hashanah is truly moving. We ask everyone who has a shofar (ram’s horn) to bring it to school and participate in this ancient ritual. Traditionally, the shofar is sounded every morning during the month of Elul. It is a reminder to take stock of our past actions, acknowledge our shortcomings and mistakes, and consider how we can do better. We encourage all students to join in this ritual by bringing their shofarot, covered with a face mask at the end, to help 'wake' our community up to this idea of teshuva, of missing the mark and finding ways to return and do better. We already started this week with Morah Tamar Cytryn's beautiful shofar from Morocco!

Lastly, I want to address the COVID-19 virus. Our medical task force has repeatedly communicated to us this summer that we must learn to live in a pandemic. They have shared their medical expertise and said that this virus is here to stay, and our job is to continue educating our students and mitigating the risks. Until the vaccine is available to all children, the next best tool in our tool kit is a mask. 

We had a wonderful first week of school and we thank Max Handelman for being our first Kabbalat Shabbat guest on Zoom today. Max and her husband, Jacob, are founders of CJDS as well as parents to two CJDS alumni, Arianna and Yael. 

Yasher Koach to our new Parent Committee Leadership Team for their hard work in reimagining the committee: Libby Smoler, Anna Labat, Robyn Reise, and Alina Groth. Todah Rabah to all the parents who assumed leadership positions as Room or Chesed Parents and for organizing beginning of the year activities.

Shabbat Shalom,

Ms. J (Judy)