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Sneak a Peek into JCDSRI Classrooms

Please take a moment to watch these wonderful, short videos that we created to give parents, friends, prospective families and community members a sense of the magic that takes place at JCDSRI each and every day. As you will see, our educators make learning fun, meaningful, appropriately challenging, engaging and joyful. We feel lucky to share these little vignettes with you. Enjoy!

Tzedek/Justice: A JCDSRI Value

Tzedek, tzedek tirdof / צֶ֥דֶק צֶ֖דֶק תִּרְדֹּ֑ף  — Justice, justice thou shalt pursue.

As was taught in the name of Rabbi Hiyya, a fourth-century scholar:

“If a person is neither a scholar, nor a teacher, nor known for observing all the ritual commandments, but stands up to protest against evil, such a person is considered a blessing.”

At the Jewish Community Day School of RI, all we do is informed by our 5 core values – chesed (kindness), kavod (respect), achrayut (responsibility), kehillah (community), and tzedek (righteousness & justice). They shape our approach to learning, how we treat ourselves and others, and how we understand what it means to an inclusive and open-minded Jewish community school that is committed to social justice. 

In Hebrew, the word tzedek encompasses the way we treat each other and the planet. It requires that we say or do something when we see another being treated unfairly. In Deuteronomy 16:20, We’re told, “Justice, justice thou shalt pursue.” Or as the venerable John Lewis said: “If you see something that is not right, not fair, you have a moral obligation to do something about it.” Our students have long been learning about being “upstanders” and they are now more explicitly connecting speaking up and speaking out to the pursuit of justice. For instance, our 5th grade students connected the dire need for affordable housing in America to the temporary shelters we construct for Sukkot, and wrote a D’var Torah (teaching based on text) urging listeners to contact government officials about this need. 

Our commitment to integrating tzedek into our school’s life and learning is reflected in our decision to appoint Erika Rusley, an experienced educator, as our Tzedek/Justice Coordinator (You can learn more about Erika here). Erika is working with our teachers to incorporate Social Justice Standards into our curriculum, providing us with a “roadmap for anti-bias education at every stage of K-12 instruction”(Learning for Justice). The four main areas of study are Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action and more information about the standards is available here.  

Many of the established social-emotional and curricular practices at JCDSRI dovetail with Social Justice Standards; for example, the self-portraits created in our younger grades align beautifully with the Identity Anchor Standards, which focus on positive social identities within a diverse community. Other students in those classes might be practicing restorative conversations with one another to help solve school-based problems, eventually using those skills to address more complex societal problems, such as food and housing insecurity and environmental degradation. Students in our upper grades are meeting with individuals with disabilities, learning about the fight for indigenous sovereignty, and engaged with Black historians about the legacy of the slave trade in Rhode Island. The problems – and the means by which our children learn to solve them are varied – but our goal is always to make the world a better, more just place for all.

Over the past few years, our teachers have engaged in a deep dive into anti-racist work, including how racism has impacted not only our curriculum and pedagogy, but also our personal lives, led by a professor of education and an experienced social worker. Dr. Lesley Bogad, a professor of education at Rhode Island College and a member of our Board of Trustees, and Meghan Cavanaugh, our school social worker, led us in our work. We are proud to announce that we have extended this work to our Board of Trustees. Having received a grant from the Jewish Alliance, this year our Board members – alongside those from Jewish Collaborative Services – will be engaging in anti-racist learning led by the prestigious Jewish social justice organization, Avodah. In addition, educators from the Human Rights Campaign led our faculty and staff in a workshop devoted to creating gender inclusive schools and addressing issues related to LGBTQIA students and families. 

Our commitment to tzedek has also been reflected in the hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars we have spent revamping our school and classroom libraries to reflect our more diverse and just understanding of our world. This has included purchasing books that tell the stories of different communities of color (including in the Jewish community), as well as stories of social justice. Working closely with our School Librarian, our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Parent Group has sponsored an annual DEI Book Fair, encouraging our community to not only purchase books that reflect our values for our school, but also for personal readership! In addition, our Tzedek Coordinator is spearheading an effort to create an affinity group for Jews of Color working in collaboration with the Jews of Color Initiative, as well as with Brown/RISD Hillel. 

At JCDSRI, we understand that the building of a just and equitable society is a process, one that requires not only our dedication and sacrifice, but those also beyond our community. Yet, as our tradition reminds us: You are not required to finish your work, yet neither are you permitted to desist from it” – Pirkei Avot (The Ethics of the Fathers). This serves as a guide to us as we continue to educate the change-makers of the future who we know will take on the work wherever we leave off.

Garden Beautification Day

Fifth graders have been working collaboratively in TikkunXDesign to improve JCDSRI’s outdoor learning space, the community garden. After research and interviews with many students in the school, the fifth grade class was able to determine several changes that could make the garden more usable and enjoyable for all.

On Sunday, April 29th, we were finally able to implement some of these plans. About 15 volunteers (including several students!) came to the school in drizzle and under grey skies to help complete our garden task list. We beautified the front of our school by planting many different kinds of perennials that we hope will make the front of the school more welcoming to guests, visitors and regulars alike.

A couple of big changes in the back include planting a pollinator bed to attract beneficial insects to our garden, as well as removing two raised beds to make space for a dynamic seating area in the garden. With this new configuration, teachers will be able to spend time talking to and teaching their group while students are focused in a circle, rather than dispersed throughout the garden and distracted by their surroundings.

A huge thank you to our volunteers for their enthusiasm and hard work!

There’s still more work to do, both for adults and for kids, but we’re confident that given a few more weeks our garden will be a dynamic, beautiful space for learning and teaching alike. If you’re interested in getting involved with school gardening, please contact our gardening teacher, Tiferet Rose at trose@jcdsri.com.

Pre K Specials Schedule

Tuesday:
Art (9:45-10:35) Design Center (12:35-1:25) Gym (2:15-3:05)

Wednesday:
Library (9:45-10:35) Music (2:15-3:05)

Thursday:
Gym (10:45-11:35)

Friday:
Garden (10:45-11:35 every other week)

Kindergarten Specials Schedule

Tuesday:
Art (9:45-10:35) Design Center (12:35-1:25) Gym (2:15-3:05)

Wednesday:
Library (9:45-10:35) Music (2:15-3:05)

Thursday:
Gym (10:45-11:35)

Friday:
Garden (10:45-11:35 every other week)

Adam appears on “The Rhode Show”

photo of video from The Rhode Show

The Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island and Cardi’s Furniture have teamed up for a great event coming to Providence in a few weeks – The Double Chai Benefit!

NiRoPe – Nick, Ron, and Pete Cardi – along with Head of School Adam Tilove and Development Director Alison Walter stopped by The Rhode Show Wednesday to talk about the benefit which celebrates the school’s 36th anniversary.

Pete also talked about how Cardi’s enjoys working with local groups that make a difference in the community.

Double Chai Benefit – Nov. 16th

double chai

The Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island (JCDSRI) is celebrating its 36th year of serving the Providence Jewish Community. The school’s mission is to prepare confident, collaborative, critical thinkers for the twenty-first century. We employ a progressive curriculum that nurtures each student’s innate creativity and curiosity while promoting academic rigor and developing personal character.

We celebrated our 36 years at the Double Chai Benefit with cocktails, dinner, dancing and a silent auction on Sunday, November 16th at Brown RISD Hillel. The event raised money for our school’s new Fund for Excellence, providing money for innovative programs and facilities to lead the way for JCDSRI into the 21st century. At the Double Chai Benefit, JCDSRI honored the first graduating class and their families for their visionary leadership which is the foundation for our school.

Thanks for Joining Us!

JCDSRI hosted a global a Global Cardboard Challenge for families in the Greater Providence area!
Sunday, October, 12 10 a.m. – 1p.,. at the JCDSRI gymnasium. There were tons of great building and phenomenal creativity, take a look at some of the fun on our facebook page, here!

GCB poster_2014 – Full Size PDF
GCB poster_2014