Ma Koreh   /What’s Happening?
Weekly CJDS Newsletter
D’var Kesher from the Head of School
Dr. Tali Zelkowicz
February 28, 2019 / 23 Adar I, 5779
Parashat Vayakhel, Exodus/Shemot 35:1-38:20

“Truths the Hand Can Touch”

Eavesdrop on these quotes from a CJDS second grader upon reading through her first educational portfolio with her parents in October:

“Wow, I’ve learned so much! This feels like looking back at Kindergarten!”
“Yeah, the measurement unit was not my favorite, but I do like math.”
“Wait, I want to play that for you again, pay attention to the melody okay?”
“Oh, I remember doing this math sprint, it was really hard the first time, but the next time I got better at it.”
"This is fun! Do we get to do this again with all new work next time? Yay!”

Same second grader, next trimester (last week):

“Can we look at my Portfolio tonight?" 
 “I’m really good at word problems in math, I just don’t like them. I’m not sure why.”
“Wait, I want to read this one, let me read it, okay?”
“My handwriting is much easier to read now, but I think I can still do better.”

There is a ritual that millions and millions of Americans engage in several times each year. It is called “the Parent-Teacher Conference.” 

Like all rituals, the P/T Conference is at risk for becoming routinized and mechanical or even scripted, rather than being an open, genuinely interactive and collaborative encounter. This is precisely what Dr. Sara Lawrence Lightfoot warns us about in her landmark study about Parent-Teacher conferences called, “The Essential Conversation.”

Something Needs to Change
In order for parent/teacher conferences to live up to their potential of being that essential and ongoing real conversation, Lawrence Lightfoot teaches us that something in this long rehearsed American ritual needs to change. At CJDS, we have redesigned and reframed the Essential Conversation around, as Lightfoot put it, “truths the hand can touch.” That means peeling back the curtain of what takes place at school, to share with parents concrete samples of their child’s work across the curriculum that allows everyone to be, quite literally, on the same page.

A Personalized and Curated Gallery for Each Student
In addition to grade cards which benchmark student progress against their peers nationally according to ODE standards, CJDS students now receive digital Portfolios that document their progress across the entire curriculum, rounding out the fullest possible picture of student growth. We share those concrete artifacts of each student’s work with parents in advance of the Parent/Teacher conference, so that parents can come ready to engage and share questions and observations of their own, based on viewing video clips, audio excerpts, project work and tests, in every subject.

In this way, the e-Portfolio becomes a personalized archive of each student’s work, curated by educators, that offers dynamic information about each student’s growth and progress. The e-Portfolio complements letter grades by providing nuanced data about a child’s strengths, challenges, interests, motivations, attitudes, patterns, all of which informs continued learning goals.

The Parent-CHILD Conference
Sadly, elementary school aged children do not always read their report cards, and rarely do they study them carefully with their parents, much less celebrate the work together. When they do, it can either just feel like praise (I got an “A”) or defeat (I got a “C”). Therefore, one of the most powerful benefits of e-Portfolios is that it creates a mechanism by which parents can dialogue in meaningful and focused ways about their child’s growth and build self-awareness. That is why we culminate each reporting cycle with this “ e-Portfolio Response Form,”which provides a way for parents to provide feedback to their child.

As a parent, I knew I would be so grateful to learn specific and detailed information about my second grader, like how she needs to work on her handwriting, how she understands math concepts well but makes careless errors by rushing, what personal meaning she makes of Jewish prayer, or that she reads fluently with intonation, but could slow down.

What I did not expect to be blown away by was the experience of reviewing all that work with her. When she asked, “Can we look at my portfolio tonight?” I realized the ownership she had over her own learning. It is, after all, her portfolio.

And when students can feel that the triumphs and the challenges alike belong to them, they feel agency and are empowered to set goals and internalize criteria for excellence. That is what happens when educators, parents, and the student him/herself study concrete artifacts that tell a rich story of the student’s growth trajectory – when they have truths the hand can touch.

Shabbat Shalom,
ANNOUNCING the first ever CJDS Alumni Award Recognizing Dr. Gina Freeman’s Legacy at CJDS:   

The Gina Freeman
Shomrei HaAdam V’Ha’Adamah Award
Honoring CJDS Alumni, Guardians of Humanity and the Earth.
This award was created to honor the legacy of Gina Freeman Ph.D., founding educator at Columbus Jewish Day School, who taught at the school from 1998-2018, and helped to build CJDS’s unique program that combines Environmental Education and Service Learning. This $500 award recognizes a CJDS alumna or alumnus each year who is engaged social action work that embodies the values and contributions that Gina embedded in the school’s culture and curriculum over many years, and that we wish to continue to bequeath to future generations. The recipient may use the award towards a middle or high school, or post-graduate education or program.

Any student who attended CJDS is eligible to apply for the Shomrei HaAdam v’Ha’Adamah award. The recipient will be a student in middle school, high school, or college, who demonstrates significant passion for serving humanity/Adam and/or contributions to protecting HaAdamah/the earth:

this individual will be someone who initiates important interventions to help make the world a better place through love for the environment and caring for other people.
the recipient must demonstrate significant excellence, passion, and leadership by taking on some responsibility for guarding humanity and the earth through volunteering, making monetary or non-monetary donations, utilizing their talents in any ways that help repair different corners of the world, locally or globally, and/or by
demonstrating strong social-emotional caring of people of all ages that helps bring wholeness and dignity to others.
“My heart is full knowing that this great honor will recognize the deep values of CJDS in our wonderful graduates. The true honor will be reading about the many stories from you, our Alumni, about your important work in your communities and the world. Please take a few moments to share your story and fill our hearts with pride.”
-Dr. Gina Freeman, Founding Director of Environmental Education and Service Learning, and teacher leader for 19 years at Columbus Jewish Day School

Award Presentation will take place: Thursday May 23, 2019, at CJDS Arts Night, 6:30-8pm
Deadline for application: Monday April 15, 2019.
A printable application may be found HERE.
2019-2020 Update!
Re-enrollment contracts for the 2019-20 school year will be mailed and emailed to all current families in grades K-5 on March 1.

If you missed the February 15 deadline for Tuition Assistance, but you still wish to be considered, please contact Mark Mitzman as soon as possible at 614-939-5311 x3103 or

We are currently accepting applications. Interested families can begin the application process now by visiting the "APPLY" tab on our website:
Calling all current CJDS Families...
mark your calendars on MARCH 24th at 2:30pm
for this CJDS sponsored event
COSI is coming to CJDS!
"Oseh Feleh: The Wonders of Science!”
Join COSI educators at CJDS for Family Education and Fun
On Sunday March 24, 2:30-4pm

  • K-2 students and their parents: Animal Tales! Habitats and Adaptation Workshop (with live animals!)
  • 3-6 graders and their parents: Gross Science: Microorganisms and the Human Body Workshop (use microscopes and learn about the biological importance of snot!
(The workshops target ages 5-12, but siblings are welcome!)

Space is limited - RSVP is required by March 15th
Due to the many inclement weather days without school, we are adding March 11 back into the school year to avoid needing to extend the school year into June. So please note that there will now be a full school day on Monday March 11, 2019.
Thursday, February 28: Parent/Teacher Conferences 4:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.

Thursday, March 14: 1st Grade H agigat Hasefer 8:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m.
Friday, March 15: All School Kabbalat Shabbat (2nd Grade Leading) 1:40 p.m.-2:20 p.m.
Thursday, March 21: Purim Parade and Megillah Reading 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 24: "Oseh Feleh: The Wonders of Science!” at CJDS, 2:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m.
Friday, March 29: All School Kabbalat Shabbat (Music Theme) 1:30 p.m.-2:20 p.m.

Friday, April 5: All School Kabbalat Shabbat (Kindergarten Leading) 1:40 p.m.-2:20 p.m.
Sunday, April 14: IAC CJDS "Passover Carb Festival" at CJDS, 4:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 17 All School Pesa h Hag 2:00 p.m.-3:15 p.m.
Thursday, April 18-Friday, April 26 Pesa h (Passover) NO SCHOOL
Tuesday, April 30 - Friday, May 3, 6th Grade Graduation Trip
Lunch & Recess Clubs
  • MONDAY RECESS: Dance Club with Ms. AG & Katie Feldstein
  • TUESDAY LUNCH: Israel/Hebrew Club with Lin Raveh - Israeli Shlicha
  • WEDNESDAY LUNCH: Tzedakah Club with Susan Couden & Rabbi Sharon Barr Skolnik
  • THURSDAY RECESS: Journalism Club with Dr. Denae D'Arcy
  • FRIDAY RECESS: Choir with Angelo Dunlap
CJDS's Tzedakah Club is excited to be starting a new project, collecting Pennies for Patients!

We are raising funds to help The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society fund life-saving research. You can help our efforts by donating today. Send your change to school, and change someones life.

The Pennies for Patients program is a service learning, character education and philanthropy program where students gain the unique experience of helping thousands of children and adults in their fight against blood cancers like leukemia. Pennies for Patients helps students see firsthand how their involvement can make a difference!
MONDAY: Theater Club with Giselle Siegel, Artistic Director of the JCC Gallery Players
TUESDAY: Tennis for students 10 and Under (K-5th grade)
March 5– May 14 (No Class 3/26 and 4/23) 
9 weeks of fun!
LIFECYCLES In our community, at every point, our families are perpetually entering new stages in their lives. In keeping with the tradition of living Jewishly, CJDS acknowledges, honors, and celebrates these moments: Births, B’nei Mitzvah, graduations, marriages, and in moments of illness, healing and loss.
The Hebrew term for gratitude is הַכָּרַת הַטוֹב (Hakarat HaTov), which means "recognizing the good."

To Jenny Glick for providing delicious dessert to faculty during the evenings of parent/teacher conferences this week.

To CJDS Kindergarten parent, Gayle Kuhr for volunteering in the Kindergarten classroom.

To Eva (4th grade), Julia (2nd grade), and Gavi (2nd grade) who cleaned "a whole big bag" of trash from on and around the playground this week.

To Ari Scheier for her beautiful display of Judaic studies student created work, which is proudly hanging on the bulletin boards outside of the 3rd and 4th grade classrooms.
MI SH'BERACH When a member of the CJDS family is ill or in need of healing, the entire community lends its support and its prayers for a full and complete recovery. 

We wish first grader Victoria Koch's mom, Sharyn Koch a speedy recovery after her recent surgery.

We are so happy that the surgery of Yaacov Ramon, grandfather of Noah (2020) and Leo (2024) Bitton, went smoothly, and we continue to wish him a full and speedy recovery.

We wish our dear CJDS friend Community Shlicha Lin Raveh, a speedy recovery.

We wish our dear CJDS friend and community volunteer, Steve Shkolnik, a speedy recovery.
KESHER: CJDS Parent Organization
As in the past, we are so grateful to all the help from the community members - grandparents, friends, parents, and others – on whom we rely to serve hot lunch to our students. Our volunteers bring such a warmth and love to our students and we love having all of you! In order to make this sign-up process even more smooth this year, we would love each family (any family member or friend) to sign up for two dates during the whole year to serve lunch. It can be a parent, a grandparent, a special friend - anyone who is interested in spending time with our wonderful students and serving them food.
CJDS is proud to have a Parent Organization called Kesher (Hebrew for "connection"). Kesher has a team of grade representatives led by a president.

Kesher is responsible for the CJDS Hot Lunch program, social gatherings outside of school, teacher appreciation, the CJDS Chesed committee and more! To get involved, please be in touch HERE.
Hot Lunch server responsibilities include:

11:15 a.m.: Arrive at CJDS
11:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.: Set out the plates and assemble lunches
12:00 p.m.-12:30 p.m.: Students arrive for lunch at 12:00 p.m. and we help serve the lunch to those who have ordered.
Help with cleaning up and conclude by 1:00 p.m.