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S pa r k s F r o m O u r S c h o o l C o m m u n i t y

Volume 15, No. 1 FALL 2011 • 5772


In This Issue: 1 Meet Our New Head of School 2 $3 Million Krupp Challenge: Success! 3-4 Graduates Reflect 5-6 Pluralism at JCDS: Our Findings 7 Behind the New Logo

Matters of ‫ ענין של טעם‬Taste

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

MEET OUR NEW Head of School

‫הכירו את מנהלת בית ספרינו‬ Dear JCDS community and friends, What a joy it is to be here! Thank you for welcoming me so warmly into this community. As I have been transitioning into my new role, I have been inspired by what an amazing school this is. I have had the pleasure of collaborating with teachers, the core of our learning community, who are deeply committed to excellence in teaching and to nurturing their students’ academic and ethical growth. In the book of Proverbs it says, “hanoch lana’ar ‘al pi darco,” (“educate each child according to his (or her) need”) (22:6). Our teachers enact this each day. Whether helping our students to program a robot, to read a page of Talmud, to create a piece of sculpture or to work through a math problem, our teachers are so dedicated to helping our students find their own paths. I also have met parents who are passionately invested in partnering with the school to create the best educational opportunities for their children. Moreover, I have worked with board members who are devoted to helping us live out our mission of kindling our students’ commitment to Judaism and to lifelong learning.

I am excited about working with others in this community to lead JCDS into its next phase of growth. Recently our school took a major step forward. As many of you know, in June our community met the challenge of our generous donors, Lizbeth and George Krupp, and succeeded in raising $3 million to reduce the debt for our building. This communal accomplishment is worthy of celebration, as it is a tangible demonstration of people’s faith in the kind of education students are receiving from us. Paying down our debt also allows us to dedicate more money to fulfilling the needs of our educational program. We can continue to innovate and to think about how best to create the learning conditions for our students to unleash their potential in all facets of school life. I look forward to being a part of JCDS going from strength to strength. B’virkat shalom (with a blessing of peace),

Dr. Susie Tanchel (or as the kids call me, Dr. T.)

Schedule a Tour! Come and visit our school; there is no better way to appreciate what an incredible place it is! Call 617-972-1733 or email




“ One of our big priorities is to have the day schools be in buildings, so there are not wandering Jews in the desert.” – Liz and George Krupp


‫תודה רבה‬



hilanthropists Liz and George Krupp issued JCDS and consolidate our financial position in the JCDS a matching-grant challenge in a bold permanent home that we purchased in 2008 with collaboration to advance the future of K-8 a down payment from another group of generous pluralist Jewish education in Boston. We are donors. pleased and profoundly Meeting this transforma“Congratulations to everyone ­– grateful to announce tive challenge enabled particularly JCDS itself. Having we have met the terms outgoing Head of School of the challenge – recently attended my granddaughter’s 8th Ruth Gass to complete her $2 million in pledged Grade ‘Reflections’ ceremony, tenure with a great sense gifts to secure the Krupps’ I can only say that I was struck again of satisfaction, while inadditional $1 million docoming Head of School Dr. by what a substantial institution nation – and we did so Susie Tanchel took the helm this is. I am very pleased to several weeks ahead of with great appreciation for our June 30th deadline. have contributed.” JCDS’ communal support. Two hundred and sevThank you to the Krupp – James Beck, grandparent enty donors participatChallenge Donors as well ed in a community-wide as the many, many volunteers and staff who helped effort, including nearly all 118 current JCDS families (92%), as well as many alumni families, grandparents JCDS to achieve this landmark. JCDS is truly a community school. and community members. The $3 million in contributions will reduce the JCDS mortgage debt significantly, freeing up resources to address priorities such as increasing professional development for teachers, further enhancing our academic program, and sustaining a healthy balance sheet for the school. This will strengthen


Reflections on Reflections, 8th Graders contemplate their JCDS experiences

JCDS teachers are committed to deeply knowing and understanding their students. Our 8th Grade Commencement Ceremony honors each student’s years of individualized attention: each graduate is reflected upon and tenderly celebrated by a teacher who truly knows him or her. But what teachers say offers only half the story… The students’ own voices provide the other half and powerful proof of what JCDS offers; as our motto says, “A child is not a vessel to be filled, but a flame to be kindled.” The Reflections Ceremony is now our annual milestone event preceding Graduation, at which each eighth grade student confidently and uniquely expresses his/her personal passage through JCDS.

they have become. In preparation, and supported by faculty advisors, each eighth grade student looks back through a “JCDS looking glass” to explore and gain insight into his or her history here. The variety of expressions in our graduates’ Reflections attest to our students’ understanding of the core values of our school, as well as their thoughtfulness, originality, and depth of thinking. There were nineteen extraordinary Reflections presented at the ceremony on the morning of Friday, June 10th; here is a brief sampling of five of them.

As JCDS is student-centered and focuses on the whole child, our graduates-to-be reflect on how their JCDS experience has helped shape them into the well rounded, well grounded young Jewish adults

As recent graduate, Amos Armony, so poignantly stated in his own Reflection this June: “The symbol of community is a pyramid of people supporting each other. If a community member leaves, the pyramid would fall, and if one joins, the pyramid soars higher. This is a metaphor of how several new students joined our class over the years and instantly become part of the JCDS community. Similarly, students who have left never truly leave our school. Without a Community, the whole child couldn’t exist; without the Child, the Community couldn’t exist….”

Find Out How Your Child or Grandchild Can Experience JCDS: Attend an Open House! Nov. 2, 7:30-9:30pm • Dec. 13, 7:30-9:30pm




Tal Rimoni, at age thirteen an accomplished musician, chose to perform a Hungarian czardas on the violin as his Reflection. Before taking up his bow, he quietly shared with parents, staff, and fellow Middle School students present, “The violin allows me to express my talent and feelings” and attributed his choice of “playing a piece by a Jewish composer” to his joyful experience in the JCDS Klezmer band, stating, “When I play Jewish music, it makes me feel extremely proud to be participating in my culture and my Jewish heritage.”

“I chose to do art for my Reflections piece,” spoke Ariella Beck Levisohn thoughtfully to the audience, “because art has been an essential part of my JCDS experience. Whether in academics, art class, school celebrations, plays, or even just in the halls, art is always a central aspect and has allowed me to express my creativity in new ways”.

Scott Levine sculpted a clay piece representing his JCDS experience. With a giant grin across his face, he explained, “I love JCDS, where for the past three years, I have been shaped by an amazing community and a loving class. Because of this community, I’ve grown into a fabulous 8th grader along with all my remarkable peers! In an attempt to summarize all my communal and academic experiences at JCDS, I have created this sculpture…”

And while continuously juggling a variety of objects in the air, Akiva Jackson spoke with gratitude of his JCDS experience, comparing various aspects of learning. “Kindergarten and first grade at JCDS were very formative years, bringing my first foray into Torah: B’reishit (Genesis). Week by week we learned the story of creation, Adam and Chava, Cain and Abel, Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, and Yoseph. I am juggling three alphabet blocks to represent how we learned to read, how we learned the Hebrew alphabet, and how in B’reishit, the world was created through God’s words, showing the power of language in my first years at JCDS! Seventh grade was interesting and eye opening! B’reishit, taught with simplicity in Kindergarten, was suddenly complex! We read commentaries, and we analyzed every word in the creation story; I had no idea it was so complicated”! And though speaking about himself, Akiva’s final words, “My flame has been kindled,” resonated deeply within the heart of each member of the Class of 2011/5771.


plurALISM at JCDS: Our findings SInce thriving organizations continually cultivate their mission, closely examining one facet of that mission can bring new clarity and vigor to their culture. At JCDS, pluralism is our most distinctive premise and one of our organizing principles. Thus, the Board of Trustees commissioned a Pluralism Audit to learn how the school’s program and culture express pluralism. The resulting Audit included on-site observations by researchers, examinations of the school’s published documents, interviews, and surveys of parents, students, staff, and alumni. Our goals for the Audit were to learn how best JCDS can:

What are we?

JCDS excels as a nurturing Jewish learning community. A significant majority of our students, staff, alumni, and parents report that at JCDS they feel supported in who they are as individuals, as learners, and as Jews.

Who are we?

We confirmed that JCDS is made up of a diverse group of families with a strong, broadly traditional center. While many of our families are affiliated with synagogues or minyanim (prayer communities), our data also demonstrate that affiliation and identity are not the same: Nearly 30% of our parents identify their Jewishness as independent of any denomination.

• assure that the dignity of every individual in our community is respected; • demonstrate that the common heritage we teach illuminates many paths of Jewish living and expression; • both promote adherence to the integrity of one’s path while fostering the skills to sustain one’s participation in an inclusive community; • foster a school culture in which people respect and embrace our diversity in order to learn from our commonalities and differences.

One goal of the Audit is to identify how and where JCDS might realize its pluralist commitments in new and more effective ways.

Come Experience JCDS: Add Your Voice to One of Our Torah Study Groups! Call 617-972-1733 for details. 5



“We looked for a quality education imbued with Jewish values and learning. What we found was a lifelong community.” - A JCDS Parent As we examine JCDS through the lens of pluralism, we have identified several key areas for development: • we will clarify JCDS’ vision of pluralism and its implications for teaching in the classroom; • we will examine the spectrum of Jewish practice experienced at JCDS and seek to ensure all constituents are well represented and heard;

What is our pluralism?

The JCDS community has two broad understandings of pluralism. The first is Pluralism as Respect. This means creating a nuturing, respectful, inclusive and involved community. According to the Pluralism Audit, JCDS stands out as this kind of community. The second understanding is Pluralism as a Way of Learning and Living Together. We aspire to encounter one another’s differences from a place of learning, consensus, productive compromise, and respect. In a pluralist setting, one must know enough about the tradition to understand one’s own place in it and engage meaningfully with others who stand in a different place.

Where do we go from here? JCDS’ goal is to assure that all our students have positive and meaningful associations with this school and with their Judaism.

• we will deepen our current T’fillah (prayer) program to further express multiple relationships to Jewish text and religious and spiritual traditions; • most importantly, we will engage teachers, students, parents and staff in open conversations around pluralism so that we may continue to learn and consider new and more effective ways of “doing pluralism” at JCDS. The Pluralism Audit generated reams of data and elicited extensive and explicit reflection on the culture of JCDS and on individuals’ experience of being a part of it. In the 2010-2011 school year we conducted the Audit and collected the data. In the 2011-2012 school year we will be reporting more substantively about the findings to the parent body while taking concrete steps merely outlined in this space so that JCDS can continually thrive with a pluralist culture that is truly integral to the institution. Note: for more specific information about the Audit and its findings, please be in touch with Rav Yoel (Joel Alter) at JCDS. RavYoel@jcdsboston.




PERMIT NO 55058 57 Stanley Avenue, Watertown, MA 02472 617-972-1733 •

Sparks From Our School Community

Dr. Susie Tanchel, Head of School Alex Sagan, President Arnee Winshall, Founding Chair Terri Grogan, Assistant Head of School for Development and Communications 617-972-1733 x215 Kristin Kretschmer Associate Director of Communications 617-972-1733 x207

BEHIND THE NEW LOGO! How did we choose the new logo? There were months of discussions and drafts of new icons for JCDS among professional staff and lay leaders. In the end, we concluded that our flame is core to our identity and our mission of kindling the flame of life-long learning. Newly confident in the importance of the flame, we sought to re-imagine and infuse it with new life. The result is a new JCDS logo that looks and feels like JCDS with a fresh sense of vibrancy and joy. The new logo conveys the essence of teaching and learning, too, as it suggests a larger flame nurturing and kindling a smaller one.

Why make a change?

Our Hebrew name...

Reflecting pride in our growth and change over many years, the school’s leadership wanted a logo that better conveys the school as we are now. In addition, though our previous logo is beloved and well-recognized, our name became hard to read at smaller scales.

You’ll notice that our Hebrew name is shortened in the new logo from “Boston’s Jewish Community Day School” (‫ בוסטון‬,‫קהילתי‬-‫ )בית ספר יהודי‬to “Jewish Community School” (‫)בית ספר יהודי קהילתי‬. The shortened phrase allows the Hebrew text to be larger for the emphasis, identity and readability we want and need.

JCDS Newsletter Nitzotzot Fall 2011  

JCDS School Newsletter

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