CESJDS is a premier JK-12 Jewish day school with an international reputation for academic excellence and a vibrant pluralistic community guided by Jewish values.
CESJDS is a premier JK-12 Jewish day school with an international reputation for academic excellence and a vibrant pluralistic community guided by Jewish values.
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Critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and dual-language communication skills are CESJDS’s core objectives for each student. Our unique approach of emphasizing inquiry, logical reasoning, and interpersonal relationships, is adapted from Jewish learning from thousands of years ago, i.e. Midrash, Talmud, Hevruta (partner learning), and interpretation, and is combined with 21st-century learning.
No matter where a CESJDS student is on their JK-12 journey, he or she is inspired to make connections across the curriculum in fun and engaging ways.
The 2nd grade engaged in a Hebrew calligraphy workshop, and explored this aspect of art through a Jewish lens. The entire Middle School participated in EXPLORE STEAM, which had students participating in a range of science, technology and arts activities, including 3D printing, graphic design, photography, instrumental music, robotics, and more. As part of their cultural heritage instruction, students in Spanish IV visited the Mexican Cultural Institute in DC, where they had a guided tour in Spanish, and saw one of the few Mexican murals on the East Coast.
We began reciting a teaching from rabbinic tradition as a kavanah/statement of intent for the activity of each school day–“דרך ארץ קדמה לתורה”, “Respectful courtesy precedes all learning”
5th graders were given a wide range of electives to choose from including: Arabic Language, Mathematical Origami, JDS Chemists, Poetry in Motion, and many more. The 5th grade Social Action/Tikkun Olam topic for January was “Girls Empowerment” and MD Delegate Marice Morales visited and addressed the students.
The two days before Thanksgiving were dedicated to our curriculum integration initiative. Tuesday was a completely new program, called “C3 Day.” C3 stands for “Cross Cutting Concepts”, the Next Generation Science Standards concepts that we are suing as integrative threads for each grade level. Each teacher was asked to weave the CCC into the lesson for the day so that students would be exposed to their new concept for the grade level and experience how it can be applied in each discipline.
“100 Boxes of Cereal” drive spearheaded by Kindergarten to celebrate the 100th day of school and to participate in the Purim mitzvah of giving gifts to the needy.
2nd grade students participated in in ceramics seminars, creating Shabbat ritual objects to enrich their year-long study of Shabbat within the TaL AM program.
In order to build a strong mathematical foundation for our students as critical thinkers, we began implementing new curricular materials in three grades this year, with a plan to roll out into all grades K-5 over the next few years. We are using two main programs, Contexts for Learning Mathematics, and Project M2 and M3. These programs present mathematical situations within meaningful contexts, allowing students to grapple with concepts, consider multiple strategies, and internalize the most meaningful and efficient methods. Common calculation methods are taught and practiced as well, but only as students understand the meaning behind the algorithms.
Our partnership with Hebrew at the Center continued into a second year as we provided ongoing professional development to all Hebrew and Judaic Studies faculty members in the Proficiency Approach for second language acquisition. While our students’ Hebrew language skills have always been at very high level, this focus on communicative language/oral proficiency will help us to achieve our goal of developing as many fluid Hebrew speakers as possible.
6th Grade focused on knowing who they are as individuals. Their culminating project was to create a TED Talk that focuses on one of their main interests. The project integrates Social Studies, English, Humanities Experience, and Y’Sodot.
The project was introduced by having students watch older JDS students present their 6th Grade TED Talks from prior years. They then had the opportunity to ask these students questions about how to conduct research, how to make it manageable, how to choose a topic, and how to create a TED Talk. After reflecting on who they are as individuals and their many interest areas, they identify topics to be researched.
With an advisory, each student chose a topic to focus on and craft overarching questions to guide their research. Throughout the process, they are building their research skills and use of traditional and non-traditional sources as well as their presentation skills. TED Talks from the TED Talk channel were used consistently as a tool to demonstrate the use of humor, statistics, non-traditional sources, etc. Students will present their TED Talks the last two weeks of school to each other.
7th Grade spent most of the year studying the Holocaust through the Facing History and Ourselves “Holocaust and Human Behavior” curriculum. As part of this curriculum, the students built a virtual memorial to the Holocaust that will live on the school’s website and the FHAO website. After the March Memorial Trip, students took time to identify their interest areas that they would study within the context of the Holocaust. For example, a student who is interested in gymnastics might research the Holocaust’s effect on the Olympics at that time and now.
After conducting the research, students will create individual virtual memorials that speak directly to their affinity areas. All of the students work will be collected and put on the school’s website as well as on the FHAO website as a resource for other schools.
Throughout this process, students learned from experts around the world. Some of the topics students heard about were; how have memorials changed over time; what are symbols and how do we create symbolic imager; how to apply symbolic imagery to art.
The 8th Grade Capstone Project is the culminating project of the Middle School in which 8th graders use their understanding of themselves and their local and larger communities to consider where they want to have an impact and how.
Before creating their own impact project, students researched impactful projects that others are doing locally or in the larger community within their interest area. Part of their research might include interviewing some of the people leading these projects in the community. Students then wrote a proposal for their own impact project. After creating and presenting their project, they evaluated its impact on them and the community.
Guest speakers included Dr. Kenneth Pollack, a senior fellow in the Center for Middle Easy Policy at the Brookings Institution; Jason Donovan, American Foreign Service; Ambassador Dennis Ross, counselor and William Davidson Distinguished Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Professor Moran Stern, Adjunct Lecturer at the Center for Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University; Zeev Ben-Shachar, Educator at Jerusalem U; David Makovsky and Ghaith al-Omari, Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Evan Hoffman, Senior Manager, Stage Government Affairs, Organization for International Investment; Reuven Azar, Deputy Head of Mission at the Israeli Embassy; and others.
A number of new courses were offered during the 2017-2018 school year: Introduction to JAVA Coding; 3-D Design and Printing; American Women’s History; Tanakh Seminar: Love Stories in Tanakh, Creative Writing, and World Jewry post-Holocaust.
The Upper School Jewish Text and Jewish History departments are collaborated on a new initiative of informal learning. They hosted the “Sage of the Month,” and “Jewish Personality of the Month” via bulletin board postings. In conjunction with photos, brief bios and other interesting facts and images, the goal was to to better inform our students about the many interesting Jewish personalities they may or may not encounter in the course of a formal class.
In mid-January, we hosted a student-organized and student-led assembly to raise awareness and help end the stigma around mental illness. A junior and a senior spoke to the entire high school student body about their own struggles with mental illness, sharing their journeys in the hope of helping others find a way to speak productively about how mental illness affects them.
CESJDS hosted the TOARCH program Foundation Stone for our 9th grade students. The program focused on Israeli archaeology and Tanakh, and dovtailed with the 9th grade Jewish History and Tanakh curricula.
Five editors of the 2018-2019 school yearbook Dimensions participated in a day-long “Game On!” workshop sponsored by Jostens. The training included everything from how to be a good leader to current design trends to how to come up with a yearbook theme.
Our arts faculty translates the arts into subject areas including science, literary arts, prayer, identity, and history. Art and design education value the transformative impact art can have on learning.
Faculty members maintain active professional involvement with the latest research in art education; collaboration, discussion/critique, initiative/self-motivation, focus, leadership, preparedness, polish and craftsmanship, and risk taking.
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At the Lower School, when the days start to get shorter each year, Art and Judaics collaborate to make art about the popular ancient ceremony, Havdalah. We review the themes that sanctify the end of the holy Shabbat and beginning of a regular new week.
Perhaps the most important crossover skill that art and science share is the art of observation. We spend time each year, in every grade at the Lower School, improving our gift of seeing by drawing aspects of still life, tree life and branching and the study of depth through perspective drawing.
Our Kindergartners learned how to channel their inner Kandinsky by painting with colors and lines that were evocative of music.
1st grade students created self-portraits with Modigliani as their inspiration.
2nd grade students viewed and held real African masks loaned to us from the education curator of the Smithsonian Museum of African Art. They then created their own masks in the style of African masks by incorporating four common characteristics: symmetry, geometric patterning, earth-tone colors and simplified/enlarged facial features.
The Lower School Fanaroff Family Hanukkah Musical, Macca Wish Upon a Star (with a Disney theme), was a huge success with over 1100 guests in the audience for two performances. Every student participated in the production.
Students at the Upper School celebrated Daniel Pearl World Music Day. Daniel Pearl was a Jewish American journalist who was kidnapped and killed by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002. The Upper School gymnasium is named in memory of Daniel Pearl. As a way to remember Daniel, an avid musician, his parents encouraged an annual international celebration of music in his honor.
The 9th and 10th graders participated in an incredible Performing Arts Day program hosted at school, complete with workshops on Indian Dance, African Drumming, Ballroom Dance, Lighting Design, Clowning, Improv Theater, Visualizing Music, Latin American Drumming, Puppetry and Hip Hop.
376 students in grades 6-12 participated in athletics across 39 teams, spanning 12 sports at the Middle School, Junior Varsity and Varsity levels. CESJDS participates in the PVAC with 13 other independent schools in the Washington Metro area.
The Middle School athletic program is unique in that students in grades 6-8 have their own teams across 8 different sports, thus allowing for playing time and maximum skill development.
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Our teams saw great success during the 2017-2018 school year!
The Middle School Boys, Varsity Boys and Varsity Girls Cross County teams all won PVAC championships, as did JV Boys Basketball, Middle School Girls Basketball Middle School Boys Baseball, and Varsity Track.
High School Boys Cross Country won the first state championship in school sports history!
Other notables: Middle School Girls Cross Country took 3rd place at the PVAC championship, and Boys Middle School Soccer and Boys Tennis took second place in the PVAC.
CESJDS creates participatory and experiential programs and opportunities for students JK-12 to develop and deepen their Jewish identity, and connection to their school community.
Each campus celebrates Kabbalat Shabbat (welcoming Shabbat); monthly at the Lower School and weekly at the Upper School. The Lower School celebration includes singing and dancing, while the Upper School features a D’var Torah (insights on the week’s Torah portion) and a talent presentation.
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Every Zman Kodesh community created their own standards for what is sacred. These sacred opportunities ranged from creative writing to traditional liturgical prayer to art. Additionally, High School students served as ozerim (helpers) in Middle School Zman Kodesh options. These ozerim helped teach skills, parashat hashavu-ah (the weekly Torah portion), and served as role models for the younger students.
Students in grades 8-12 participated in grade Shabbatonim. These off-site overnight trips provided students the opportunity to bond with their classmates, get to know the teachers and their families, and experience a traditional Shabbat with their grades. Shabbatonim also created a space for students to engage in deliberate conversations about pluralism and how to celebrate Shabbat in a pluralistic Jewish environment. The school encourages students to negotiate and make Shabbat observance decisions as communities of cabins.
Both campuses celebrated the ‘Yom’ holidays: Yom Hasho-ah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Yom Hazikaron (Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism), Yom Ha-atzma-ut (Israel Independence Day), and Yom Yerushalayim (reunification of Jerusalem and the establishment of Israeli control over the Old City in the aftermath of the June 1967 Six-Day War).
Upper School students spent countless hours producing the events and programs for these ‘Yom’ holidays. They live streamed the Holocaust Vigil dedicated by Bassin Family in honor of Morley Potash, as well as the Zimriyah that capped off the Silberg Family Yom Yom Ha-atzma-ut Celebration. Additionally, students planned and implemented our Yom Hasho-ah and Yom Hazikaron memorial ceremonies. Congratulations to all student volunteers who created meaningful commemorations and celebrations.
This year’s Upper School Kabbalat Shabbat D’var Torah speakers included Rina Torchinsky (Class of 2018), Matthew Wieseltier (Class of 2020), Robbie Shorr ’13, Rebecca Safra (Class of 2022), Nancy Wassner (High School English Teacher), and many others. Performers included the Shir Madness A Cappella group, the CESJDS Dance Team, Josh Pizer (Class of 2019) demonstrating his Karate skills, and the cast of the Middle School Musical.
CESJDS 2nd graders kicked off the year with the beginning of their Torah study and each received a mini Torah during a Haggigat Hatorah. Our 1st- and 3rd graders capped off a year of Judaic Studies learning with Haggigat Hasiddur and Haggigat Hanilmad celebrations, respectively. During the Haggigat Hasiddur milestone, students receive their very own siddur (traditional prayer book), while the 3rd-graders received a humash (Jewish text). Each grade presented song and dance for audiences of parents, siblings and grandparent
Our kindergarten classes each have their own model seder in celebration of Passover, and a Siyyum ceremony to signify moving onto the first grade. Gurim held their first Siyyum ceremony during the 2017-2018 school year.
Lower and Upper School students are proactive in participating in after-school activities, some affiliated with CESJDS, some not. Theater, publication, athletic, and community service activities help develop confident, compassionate thinkers who engage the world through Jewish values.
The cast and crew of the Middle School Musical, The Little Mermaid Jr., raised $767.50 for the Red Cross relief for Puerto Rico.
The cast of Nice Work if You Can Get It! (High School Musical) raised $740 for UMTTR, an organization that has run workshops for all CESJDS Upper School students.
Shir Madness won “Outstanding Vocal Performance” at the Kolot Hayam Jewish A Cappella festival.
The Lion's Tale, CESJDS's student newspaper, received a First Class rating with one mark of distinction in the area of Coverage and Content from the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA). The newspaper was also named a Crown finalist by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.
Dimensions, CESJDS's Upper School yearbook, received a First Class rating with two marks of distinction in the areas of Coverage and Content, and Design from the NSPA.
Reflections, the High School Literary Magazine, earned a Gold Medalist rating from CSPA, a rank of Recommended for Highest Award from the National Council of Teachers of English, and a First Class rank from the NSPA.
The Melting Pot, CESJDS’s World Language literary magazine, was awarded First Place with Special Merit and Most Outstanding High School Literary & Art Magazine by the American Scholastic Press Association (ASPA).
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Gabe Krantz (Class of 2018) received a Certificate of Merit from the CSPA in the category of Editorial Page Design.
Daniel Weiss (Class of 2018) won First Prize in the poster presentation at the Technion’s SciTech summer program.
Daniel Morgan (Class of 2019) won the 1st place in BBYO Annual Innovation Showcase for his non-profit, BRAS4BRCA.
Lily Daroff (Class of 2019) won the silver prize in the high school division of the Television, Internet & Video Association of DC 2017 Awards.
Ilan Cohen (Class of 2019) was elected to the United Synagogue Youth (USY) International Executive Board, as Vice President of Membership and Kadima.
Ilana Kaplan (Class of 2019) was elected the position of N’siah (President) for BBYO’s DC Council.
Ava Fradlin-Ryan (Class of 2019) was chosen for the US development team for short track speed skating.
Eliana Gropman (Class of 2019) won 4th Place in Junior Dance at U.S. Figure Skating National Championships
Isabelle May (Class of 2020) was selected as a Student Leader for JCamp 2018.
Becca Block (Class of 2020), Jordan Schneider (Class of 2019), and Russell Lubin (Class of 2020) were chosen to participate in this year’s Jteen Philanthropy program.
Talia Mitre (Class of 2020) won the International Compost Awareness Week Poster Contest
Rebecca Weiss (Class of 2020) was nominated for the South Atlantic Region (SAR) Chief Executive at Junior State of America (JSA).
Allie Ravitz (Class of 2020) skated in the U.S. Figure Skating Eastern Synchronized Skating Championships.
Jonah Abrams (Class of 2020) was accepted to the 9th cohort of the Margo and Yoram Cohen Israel Engagement Fellowship (IEF).
Jonathan Morris (Class of 2021) sat on a panel at Children’s National 2018 Population Strategies for Children’s Health Summit.
Lila Berger (Class of 2021) won 3rd Place at the International Zwinger Acro Cup in Xtreme Acro.
Lincoln Aftergood (Class of 2022) won the Metropolitan DC Jewish School Spelling Bee.
Erin Marill (Class of 2025) earned a first place ribbon at the Montgomery County Fair art competition.
Benjamin Kotler (Class of 2026) raised over $75 in 2 hours to donate to Hurricane relief through a bake sale and lemonade stand.
Ruby Kotok (Class of 2026) was celebrated at the Maryland House of Delegates for having her writing published by World Artist Experiences.
Several faculty and staff reached important milestones in services to CESJDS. We thank them for their commitment, dedication, and the many ways they provide support to our students, parents, and the entire CESJDS community.
We are looking forward to partnering with these, as well as all of our professionals, for many more years!
Click the link below to view faculty and staff achievements from 2017-2018.
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Laurie Ehrlich, Director of Marketing and Communications, served on the
faculty for the 2018 Finalsite University Conference.
Gretchen Gobin, Upper School Ceramics Teacher, attended a workshop at District Clay led by ceramic artist Mitch Lyons.
Natalie Levitan, High School History Teacher, was recently selected as a Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction by The National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS).
Middle School Math Teacher Aliza Libman Baronofsky published a post on the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance blog.
Cassandra Ly, Middle School Science Teacher, was named a Maryland Science Finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).
Erin Magee, Lower School Science Teacher, and Dr. Alexis Soffler, Lower School Science and STEM Coordinator, presented alongside Beth Short from George Washington University on the STEM Integration Project
Rabbi Mitchel Malkus, Head of School, was named co-Chair of the Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education (CASJE) Board of Directors. He also taught staff members in the Capital Camps Leadership and Learning Institute 3 classes on “Owning Mistakes and Overcoming Challenges.”
Sue Marx, Lower School Jewish Music and T’filah Teacher, published an article in the Jewish Educational Leadership Journal, on incorporating hand motions into prayer and teaching.
Jessica Nassau, Publications Director, presented at the Jewish Scholastic Press Association Annual Conference.
Art teachers Jessie Nathans and Benjamin Tellie, along with CESJDS parent Gilly Cannon, presented at the Maryland Art Education Association conference.
Jessie Nathans received a district recognition award for Career Elementary School Teacher from the Maryland Arts Education Association.
Natasha Oksenhendler ‘95, RN, Lower School Nurse, received her (Emergency Nursing Pediatric Certification (ENPC).
Lower School Assistant Principal Rebecca Prigal joined the board of Bikur Cholim of Greater Washington.
College Guidance Director Sue Rexford and Associate Director Dorie Ravick both presented at the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) conference.
Hannah Rothschild, Upper School Hebrew Language Department Chair, and Carl Atwood, High School English teacher, were accepted to the Legacy Heritage Teacher Fellowship at Brandeis University.
Kim Sherk, Lower School Language Arts Enrichment Specialist, was re-certified by the National Board. Just under 3% of the nation’s teachers are National Board certified.
Orna Siegel, Director of Enrollment & Tuition Assistance, served on the faculty and as a mentor leader at the Association of Independent School Admission Professionals (AISAP) Annual Institute.
Dr. Alexis Soffler, Lower School STEM and Science Coordinator, was selected to sit on an expert review panel by the U.S. Department of Education. She was also accepted to the 100kin10 Teacher Forum.
Dr. David Lyle Solomon, Debra Herman Berger Director of Arts Education, presented at BroadwayCon in New York City.
Upper School Art & Design Teacher Benjamin Tellie was accepted to the Ed.D program at GW.
Ginger Thornton, Director of Instructional Technology, was asked to join the Advisory Board of the Online Jewish Studies Consortium, which is part of the Virtual High School.