Chicago Jewish Day School
CJDS Experience
Inside the Classroom Blog

Junior Kindergarten and Grade 8 Exploring Non-Living and Living Objects

Posted On: 5/15/2018 2:31 PM
Junior Kindergarten students have been exploring nonliving and living objects. They began their investigation outside of the new campus by looking at the different objects around them. They discovered what's alive and what's not and the criteria of why things are alive. The following week, they examined flowers and labeled the different parts. They used their critical thinking skills to discuss how they grow and take in nutrients to stay alive.
Hands-on exploration and inquiry doesn't stop in Junior Kindergarten. Leading into a unit on growth and reproduction, Grade 8 students practiced their dissection skills to learn more about seeds and flowering plants. Through the process, students observed that flowers are specialized for pollination to occur, and seeds are produced sexually to pass on traits for another generation. 

Lag B'Omer Celebration!

Posted On: 5/7/2018 2:10 PM
Lag B'Omer is the name given to the 33rd day in the counting of the Omer, the 49-day period between the holidays of Passover and Shavuot. Around the world, Lag B'Omer has primarily become a children's and family holiday. It is customary to hold family and school picnics on this day. Some communities give children 'bows' and 'arrows' in memory of the students of Shimon bar Yochai. Schools in Israel are let out for the day. At night, the skylines are lit up by huge bonfires signifying the light of Torah that survived and grew from the Roman occupation.
At CJDS, Lag B'Omer is our Field Day! Our CJDS students and faculty went to Horner Park for an afternoon full of activities, games, and our annual Walk-A-Thon. Our Grade 8 students host a Walk-A-Thon each year to raise money for the next year's Israel trip. It's a wonderful tradition where our Grade 8 students have an opportunity to give back to CJDS. Some of the games were potato sack races, dodgeball, kickball, and capture the flag! It was a fantastic day!!

Kindergarten Animal Shelter!

Posted On: 5/7/2018 2:05 PM
For the past few weeks, the Kindergarten students have been making discoveries about all different kinds of animals. The students’ curiosities were sparked by a trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo, where they were able to observe animals in their natural habitats and generate intriguing questions that provoked further learning. From there, students decided they were interested in uncovering more about how we can take care of animals and what zookeepers do to keep animals healthy, happy, and safe. 
We discussed what animals need to survive and explored how to best structure and organize different kinds of animal enclosures to keep animals safe and happy. We built our own aquariums and zoos in class using varying materials, and together decided to pursue the idea of building a class animal shelter in connection with the mitzvah of tzar ba’alei chayim (kindness to animals). 
We visited PAWS Chicago to learn more about how animals end up in shelters, how they are taken care of in shelters, and how the adoption process works. This experience inspired us to turn our own classroom animal shelter into a school fundraiser for PAWS.  Each student was responsible for intaking stuffed animals into our shelter, which included naming and drawing each animal and imagining each one’s unique backstory and likes/dislikes. When the time came for adoption day, each kindergartener was responsible for leading their JK-Grade 5 peers through the adoption process. All adopters completed a class-written checklist of responsibilities for caring for animals. The adopters then signed the adoption paper certifying they will be dedicated pet owners. Finally, the Kindergartners and pet adopters recited the Shehecheyanu, commemorating this special, momentous occasion.
Together, the Kindergarten class raised over $210 dollars for PAWS Chicago. Thank you to all our adopters who helped us reach our goal of helping animals!

#KidsToday--Middle School Arts Project

Posted On: 5/7/2018 11:31 AM
Within every generation, progress is spurred by external factors far beyond individual actors. Often it’s the youth who are quickest to adapt to new practices and beliefs creating tension between themselves and the adults in their lives. One of the main motifs of Bye Bye Birdie is this idea of the generation gap. Although we see it countless times throughout the show, perhaps the most fascinating thing is that we see this very same struggle today. While the arguments and battles may differ, the theme remains the same: how do we adapt to new ways of thinking while holding on to what we hold dear? Over the course of this production, students examined this timeless argument through an integrative research based project, as they sought to answer the question, What are we fighting for, and why?” 
We specifically encouraged students to keep the faces free of any features to reflect the universality of these struggles and experiences. We recognize this gives the dolls a bit of an unfinished look, which is fitting, since many, if not all of these battles are still being fought today. This work is unfinished.
Look for the following elements in every generation: A body dressed in era appropriate garb, heads filled with slang from the time, hearts filled with causes that matter to the generation, and a body surrounded by counter-forces working against and propelling change. We need young voices, as they are often our greatest voice of reason.
As you see throughout the pictures, we hope you recognize that within the dissonance lies the truth-- there’s more that unites us than divides us. 

Discover Jewish Day Schools Highlights Morah Jackie Moss-Blumenfeld!

Posted On: 5/7/2018 11:25 AM
"Our teachers and school staff care deeply about the school, the children with whom they work, and Jewish education. They understand and embrace the school’s mission, adopting and supporting the principles we value as a school community. Because we believe that students are inspired by adults who appreciate learning and who pursue their own emotional, intellectual, and religious growth, the school encourages and provides ongoing educational opportunities for teachers, parents and all community members." -CJDS Mission and Vision
Yasher Koach to Morah Jackie Moss-Blumenfeld (Grade 1 Hebrew and Judaic Studies Teacher) who was featured in the joint communication from Discover Jewish Day School and Spertus Institute showcasing Jewish educators who are helping to build a foundation of Jewish learning for a new generation.
Jackie says, "I am a great believer in Jewish education and I’m seeing how increasingly more important it is, especially in America. The value of tradition and continuity is extremely important to me and I love passing that passion for Judaism on to the next generation."
We are so incredibly grateful to have Morah Jackie and the entire CJDS faculty and staff who believe in Jewish education and strive to promote life-long learning.

CJDS in JUF News: "Chicago Jewish Day School makes 'Exodus' to New Campus"

Posted On: 5/7/2018 11:22 AM
CJDS was featured in the JUF News, April edition! Thank you to JUF News writer and CJDS Parent, Paul Wieder for writing our story!

"Chicago Jewish Day School has made its long-anticipated move to a new campus in Chicago's Irving Park neighborhood, a permanent home that includes state-of-the-art classrooms, central worship and learning spaces, and extensive athletic and recreational facilities designed to enhance the school's commitment to academic excellence.

The multi-denominational, progressive Jewish day school's new campus spans 2.6 acres of buildings and playlots, encompassing most of the city block on California between Waveland and Grace. It boasts high-tech gear in every classroom and spaces big enough for the whole school to come together to pray and play..."

State of Israel Knesset Visits CJDS

Posted On: 5/7/2018 11:18 AM
It was a huge honor to host seven members of the Knesset, the national legislature of the State of Israel! Their excitement was palpable as they discovered our multi-denominational and progressive approach that educates our students to navigate both the Jewish world and beyond with respect and integrity.
Seven of our middle school students met with Knesset members to share their experiences, challenges, and successes at CJDS. Through the course of this dialogue, our students said they were grateful for the diversity at CJDS, especially around Jewish text and practice. One student said, "I have friends that go to denominational schools, and I can verbalize what is important and meaningful to me much easier because I am constantly challenged to answer that question in our diverse community." Another student said she was grateful that she got to learn about and from Jews of other denominations from her classmates and "not read about them in a book." When asked if they ever felt uncomfortable or pushed out of their comfort zones, the students said that the tension has taught them "how to advocate for themselves and remain respectful of what their peers need as well."
The chevrei (members) Knesset told our students they were so inspired that they want to create a 'CJDS' in Israel!
Thank you to the following Knesset members for visiting CJDS:
  • Deputy Minister of Defense, Member of Knesset Eli Ben Dahan (Jewish Home)
  • Member of Knesset David Bitan (Likud), Co-Chair, Knesset Lobby for Strengthening the Jewish People
  • Member of Knesset Na’ava Boker (Likud), Deputy Speaker of the Knesset
  • Member of Knesset Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid), Deputy Speaker of the Knesset
  • Member of Knesset Avraham Neguise (Likud), Chair, Aliyah, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee
  • Member of Knesset Amir Ohana (Likud)
  • Member of Knesset Colonel (Res) Omer Bar Lev (Zionist Camp)

CJDS Participates in National Student Walkout

Posted On: 3/20/2018 10:50 AM
Nothing exemplified our relationship with our Edgewater neighborhood more than the 17-minute walkout. Initiated by our middle school students, the walkout demonstrated their concern, and ours, for school safety. The March called on our leaders to figure out how to keep our schools safe and stop gun violence. We remembered the fallen victims from  Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as their names were read in a moment of silence. 
One of the benefits of this protest was the fact that we joined together with our friends at Sacred Heart Schools down the street on Sheridan Road. The program was built together by Rachel Pickus, CJDS Director of Middle School, with Dan Gargano, Sacred Heart Schools Director of the Middle School. With 235 students from Sacred Heart to 55 students from CJDS, together, they walked with staff on both sides of the sidewalk representing almost 300 participants. They were encouraged by the stream of honking cars on Sheridan Road as we walked from Sacred Heart to Emanuel and finally to conclude at St. Andrew's Greek Orthodox Church, CJDS Darom, in the gym.
All of the students discussed their feelings and what actions should or could be taken. We each read prayers from our traditions which underscored our shared values.
We recognized we are all Americans who want to live by the foundations of our democracy and to secure a peaceful and free society where all people can live and thrive in the freedoms of our country. No child should have to worry about a gunman coming into their classroom.
We stood together against injustice.
As I stood with Alderman Harry Osterman and Nat Wilburn, Sacred Heart Head of School, on the sidewalk of Sheridan Road, we all felt a sense of pride for our neighborhood, our schools, our students and faculty. We felt that we were indeed contributing to a better world by encouraging our students to let their voices be heard and by the thoughtful discussions that our students engaged in. Our students are growing up understanding that they have a responsibility to be an upstander. They have the power to create positive change and the knowledge to share with others to make a persuasive case against injustice.
Each school, with their own set of religious commitments, history and traditions, joined together as Americans, as neighbors and as colleagues and friends and demonstrated our shared values. The March represented relationships built over 13 years. With some tears, we know we can take those relationships with us as we create new friendships, new relationships, and new memories.
As we continue the journey, we look forward to the next chapter, but we cherish the beginning chapters and feel fortunate to have had such wonderful experiences and made such life long friends.

Cover Story of Chicago Jewish News!

Posted On: 3/5/2018 11:29 AM
Hot Off the Press! CJDS is the COVER story of this week's Chicago Jewish News issue featuring our new campus, our history, and our one-of-a-kind progressive, multi-denominational Jewish day school! 
"HOME AT LAST: After 15 years of wandering, Chicago Jewish Day School is moving into its new state of the art campus!

For its almost 15 years of existence, Chicago Jewish Day School has moved from one location to the next, making do as best it could in a variety of settings.

All that will change when the school moves into its spacious, state-of-the-art new quarters. On April 9, the school will be in its new, and permanent, home on a 2.6-acre campus in the Irving Park neighborhood.

The school opened in Sept. 2003 with seven students. Over the years, it added a grade at a time, and now with 223 students, it’s ready to move into a retrofitted five buildings on the new site, able to accommodate 350 students...."

Grade 8 Israel Trip: Ta'am Yisrael and CJDS Extension

Posted On: 3/5/2018 11:21 AM
From the moment our students begin their journey at CJDS, they connect with Israel. They learn about the land, the diversity of the people, the history, and the politics of the country. This learning culminates in a two-week trip to Israel in Grade Eight.
For the first week, our students join 150 other Grade 8 students all over the Chicagoland area on a the JUF/CFJE's Ta'am YisraelTaste of Israel trip. Ta'am Yisrael: A Taste of Israel is an 8th grade educational experience in Israel designed to give the participants a meaningful, intense, emotional and focused taste of the land and their heritage through a week long, "hands-on" experience in Israel. The CJDS students loved meeting and enjoying Israel with their new Ta'am friends!
For the second week, they came together as a class with CJDS staff for the CJDS Extension! Their days were packed from a walking tour of the Old City to an Israeli cooking class to Save a Child's Heart and even celebrating Purim.
While in Israel, students explore their own Jewish identities, their relationship to the State of Israel, and their connections with the people living in the state by engaging in activities that help them think critically and develop a love for the State of Israel.
Check out the CJDS Extension Blog!
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