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Governor Hogan's Visit to CESJDS
Sean Levitan, Grade 5
Governor Hogan visits the CESJDS Lower School

Governor Hogan came to JDS on December 16, 2016. Every teacher and student was there in the gym that Friday afternoon. Students were talking to each other, just like before any assembly. But soon enough, a camera flash was heard. Then another, and another... and that's when I realized what was happening. The Governor had arrived!

A crowd of cameras was swarming the entrance to the gym. Shutters clicked, cameras flashed, and people clapped as Governor Hogan made his way through the entrance of the gym. Everyone was extremely excited to see the Governor. Once everyone had sat down, Rabbi Bellas walked over to the podium.

"Thank you all very much for coming," Rabbi Bellas said. "It's not everyday we get an opportunity like this. There is a prayer in Jewish tradition for Heads of State. So we're going to learn it." After the blessing was said, Rabbi Bellas announced that he would show us one scene of the Hanukkah musical: "Macca Bia." And with that, a group of students from fifth grade walked onto the stage for their scene, followed by the CESJDS Singers who sang the song "Judah Maccabee." After the song, there was a huge applause. Rabbi Bellas got up to the podium again, and thanked everyone for making this all possible.

He stepped down to make way for a woman, Meredith Weisel, who came up to the podium and introduced herself. She told us that she has two children at JDS, and she works for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. She works with Governor Hogan. She talked about Hogan's recent trip to Israel. "Hogan is very interested in Israeli culture," she said.

There was another huge applause as Governor Hogan walked up to the podium to give his speech. I listened in as he talked about how happy he was with this warm welcome. After his last few thank yous, he asked, "How many of you have been to Israel?" Hundreds of hands shot into the air. "Seems like a lot," said Hogan.

He said he had seen the wall in Jerusalem. "I had an incredible visit to the Holocaust Museum," he said. It seemed to me like Hogan had learned a lot of new things about the history of Israel while on his trip.

He moved on to the rest of his speech, which was about trying to improve Maryland schools and education. "Sound like a good idea?" he asked. He talked about education for deserving families and kids all around Maryland. I think this is an important topic. Our government needs to invest more in education. Children are the future!

Hogan said that when he was younger, he wanted to be the Governor, but nobody thought he could. And there he was, giving his speech to our school. "You can get through those challenges," he said. "I had cancer once--but I got through it with a chance to meet many people--and now, I am completely cancer-free!" Another huge applause from the crowd. "It was all because of good healthcare and hospitals," he said. "Whatever you want to do -- study hard, be focused, listen to your teachers, and have a good attitude. Then you can be anything!"

And that was that. There was one last applause from the crowd, and Hogan said his last words to the crowd. "Thank you for coming today!" he said, as he walked down from the podium.

Governor Hogan's visit with 5th Grade

Governor Hogan meets with CESJDS 5th gradersFollowing the all-school assembly, Governor Hogan held a Q&A with 5th graders in the Beit Midrash.

Cameras were everywhere like the fog from a steamy shower. I could barely even see a glimpse of Hogan. "You'd get a better picture of Hogan if you actually waited for an opportunity to see him," I thought to myself. Everyone was hyped when Governor Hogan walked into the Beit Midrash, and there was another applause. Then, there was a small speech from the Language Arts and Social Studies Coordinator, Catherine Welch, and then Hogan came up and taught us a little about the state of Maryland. He said that he works in the State House, which used to be the largest wooden dome in the world, and it used to be the capitol building. He knew that we were learning about the American Revolution, and talked a little bit about the Treaty of Paris.

Hogan told the students that he couldn't wait for the 5th grade field trip to Annapolis this spring, where he would answer questions and talk to us more about Maryland's history.

Students were ready to share their questions with Hogan. His answers told us that his hardest decision took place 90 days after he was elected, when there was violence in Baltimore, and he didn't know how to handle it, but he sent help, and the situation was fixed.

We also found out that he feels like he couldn't govern a better state, but it wasn't always that good. Maryland was in 48th place for strongest economy, now it is 3rd place. He believes that his biggest contribution was creating a much better economy for the state of Maryland. In addition, he is doing everything he can to protect the Chesapeake Bay. He is trying his best to keep our water clean.

Hogan knows that every child, no matter what, deserves to have a great education, and good schools need teachers who enjoy teaching. He said our school is a great example. Hogan is proud of the Justice Reinvestment Act, which is an effort to improve the Criminal Justice system. Hogan also discussed how we have the 2nd worst traffic in the U.S, and we have for the past eight years. Our former governor had not prioritized road construction, but Hogan is working on this issue.

He ended his speech there, as he said his goodbyes, and left to speak with members of the press outside the Beit Midrash.

The entire school was honored to have the governor with them. We learned a lot about the history of Maryland, and a lot more about Hogan's job. I have never had more exciting opportunity than the one I had that day.

Sean Levitan is a 5th grade student at CESJDS.

Politics, Advocacy, and Grassroots: Why is this important to the Jewish Community?
Meredith Weisel
Meredith Weisel with Larry Hogan

I often get asked how can you work in politics? Really you're a "lobbyist?" What does government and community relations work mean? And oh you're a lawyer too? And these are just questions from my family and friends. Yes a bit of sarcasm here, but I do actually get asked these questions.

From the time I was 12 years old, a young eager-minded kid in middle school, I've been drawn to the law, history, and government. I was one of those kids who actually enjoyed memorizing the Gettysburg Address. The last sentence struck me, "government of the people, by the people, for the people," and has continued to stick with me throughout my career as a government and community relations professional. It's what makes me believe that even though our political system is flawed, the government is still of, by, and for the people.

The First Amendment is probably one of the most important in our Constitution. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Advocacy, grassroots, and lobbying come from here. I know many see lobbyist as an ugly word, and yes there are bad apples, but lobbying is not only guaranteed under the Constitution, it plays an extremely important role in our political system. Whether you are an individual, non-profit, trade association, corporation, union, or just a collective group of like-minded people, you are entitled to educate, advocate, and lobby our elected officials on your issues to advance your cause.

There's an old saying I was taught when I started government relations work, "if you don't have a seat at the table, then you're probably on the menu!" This phrase rings very true for our Jewish community today. Over the past few years, anti-Semitic incidents have been on the rise both globally and in the U.S. According to the ADL, the number of violent anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S. rose dramatically from 2014 to 2015 and incidents on college campuses nearly doubled. So it is extremely important that the Jewish community advocates for and encourages our federal elected officials to vote in favor of legislation like The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016.

My background has mostly been in state and local politics. I've been doing government and community relations work for over 16 years in Maryland. In March of 2016, I joined The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington (JCRC) as the Director of Maryland Government and Community Relations. The JCRC is the public affairs and community relations arm of the Jewish community, representing over 100 Jewish organizations and synagogues throughout MD, VA, and DC. We have a strong commitment to the Jewish community and community at-large to help continue to cultivate a society based on freedom, justice, and pluralism. We advocate for support of our local Jewish agencies that serve the most vulnerable residents and campaign for important policy interests on behalf of the entire Jewish community. The JCRC also coordinates community programs of information and advocacy on domestic and international issues.

The Jewish community's voice has always been strong, particularly when it comes to Tikkun Olam and helping others in need. Recently, I've been getting questions from friends and community members like what can we do since we've seen a rise in hate incidents in our own backyard of Montgomery County? What can we do to combat hate speech, racism, anti-Semitism? How can we get involved to talk about important policy issues that are central to our Jewish way of life?

As a proud parent of two JDS students and in my role with the JCRC, what I say to these questions is this: the only way to make a difference is to get involved, speak out, learn to understand others points of view, talk to your neighbors, it's okay to have disagreements, ask others if they need help, give Tzedakah, teach others about Judaism, learn about other religions and ethnicities, just take an active role in your community.

Politics, advocacy, and grassroots have always been important to the Jewish community. But given the polarization of our country right now, where we are even seeing fractures within our own community, my belief is that the only way we can fix it is to start at home. Local and state grassroots advocacy has never been more important. Learn about your local municipal, county, and state government and find out what they are working on. Elected officials have made a decision to serve and they do want to hear from you.

So I leave you with this fun quote..."One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors." Plato

Meredith Weisel is the Director of Maryland Government and Community Relations at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington (JCRC) and is CESJDS parent of Alex (grade 6) and Jaida (grade 3).

Teaching in Budapest About America in the Post-2016 Election World
Natalie Levitan
Natalie Levitan, Upper School History Teacher

Leaving for Budapest less than one week after the US Presidential election, I was keenly aware that I was going with a different lens into America than I possessed prior to the election. Here I was, a teacher from the US, presenting to European students I would be meeting for the first time about the fundamental beliefs of the US as identified in our founding documents. The goal of my planned lessons was to discuss the "idea" of America and how we have actively worked to fulfill that "idea" for our citizens over time. As I traveled to Budapest, I contemplated how would a President-elect Trump, as he had been defined during the campaign, fit into that lesson?

As I discussed the concept of the "idea" of America, the depth of knowledge the students at the Lauder School possessed of US politics became very clear very quickly. They had followed our election on their twitter and snapchat feeds just as many Americans had and they possessed many of the same impressions of our candidates as many in the States did. Their opinions included the belief that they didn't really think citizens in the US had a clear choice in their candidates. In their words, Trump was a racist, sexist, climate change denier while Hillary was a corrupt politician who would never be able to bring change. I was surprised by their bluntness, but also impressed with their insightful perceptions of why the election turned out the way that it did. We spent much of our class time discussing the impact of Trump's win, both in the US and internationally, by discussing the movement that is happening internationally towards nationalistic governments, comparing Hungarian Prime Minister Orban's stances with the passing of Brexit in England and now Trump's election and platform.

While the students were clearly as surprised by the US election results as many Americans were, I was very impressed by the view they had of the US as a world leader. They saw the US as being at the forefront of global policy and related how much they believe US policy decisions impact the international community. Their understanding of the dominant role the US has in world affairs surpassed what many at home seem to internalize. While we at home may debate if the US should get involved in global affairs, they believe it is not a choice for the US to become isolationist. To see how highly they regard the US as a beacon of power and freedom in the larger global community made me realize that they well understood the "idea" of America and the importance of America working to uphold those ideals around the world. It was eye opening to me to think about not only how we in the US are processing the results of our recent elections, but, because of the US' role in the world, many internationally are also working to process the significance of Trump's election on their worlds.





Natalie Levitan is a History Teacher at the CESJDS Upper School. She was one of six Upper School faculty members who had the opportunity to teach abroad with SOS International, a nonprofit global education connector between American and Central/Eastern European Jewish organizations and communities. Read more about their experience.

My Experience in Budapest, Hungary
Ben Tellie
Ben Tellie, Upper School Art & Design Teacher

SOS International's teaching exchange program was a transformative experience for me in many ways. I tell my colleagues who ask about my trip that it's one thing to visit a country such as Hungary and to see the sites, and take in the culture, it's another thing to become fully immersed during the visit. Working in the school systems, experiencing major sites with colleagues, learning new facts about Budapest's history each day, and learning some of the Hungarian language were all highlights for me.

I did not view the trip as a vacation, nor did I think of it as a break from teaching at CESJDS. My SOS experience was one that challenged me to use all of my years of teaching experience to make an impact in the lives of my Hungarian students and colleagues, and learn about a culture that is deeply rooted in Jewish thought and history.

My colleagues and I made an impression on our Hungarian students at both the Lauder Jewish School and at the Scheiber Sandor School by just being American teachers who care about them. Many of the students were eager to hear from a native English speaker—to learn to speak English more precisely and explore our language more. Students thought that this was so exciting.

Students were thrilled to have all of us as their teachers for one week. I could think of one moment when I was teaching an art lesson about self-identity at the Lauder School when I asked a student to tell me about one thing that was important to her about her artwork. She said, "I am a dancer. I made a dance floor with a drawing of me dancing in the studio. This is very meaningful to me." I was struck by how confident students were in regards to making their art and how comfortable they seemed making art about themselves. My Hungarian students had a great art educational background thanks to ldikó Szarvas, art teacher at the Lauder school, and the faculty. Ildikó is a marvelous art educator and that is evident from her work in the school community with her art students. I saw many parallels from working at the Lauder school and CESJDS in terms of the vibrant and engaged community, students, and the dedication of the faculty members.

Not only were we able to teach at the two schools in Budapest, we were also able to take a tour of the city each day in the afternoon, visiting important historical sites. We were also able to complete community service work and meet with Jewish Leadership in the Budapest community. Some of the experiences that stand out to me now are a tours of the Parliament, Dohany Street Synagogue, having a Havdalah ceremony by the Shoe Memorial on the Danube River Bank, and meetings with the executive director of the JCC and Hungarian and Israeli ambassadors to Hungary.

After returning from the trip, I had a great deal to think about in terms of how this experience will impact my teaching and how I could bring the experience back to the CESJDS community. A question I received often upon my return was, "What was it like to attend the trip and participate in the schools as a non-Jewish faculty member? I reflected on this question over the past few weeks and how the trip has impacted me as a non-Jew. I was raised as a Roman Catholic in a blue collar working family in the town of Kingston, Pennsylvania and attended church every Sunday until I was 18 years old. There have been moments in my life, especially when I was younger, that I felt deeply connected to my religion and other times not. As a working professional adult today, I am no longer a participating Catholic but celebrate Christian holidays with my wife.

I have been a part of the Jewish community at CESJDS for almost seven years and have an excellent understating of Jewish education, the Jewish community, and holidays and observances. I have grown very close to the CESJDS community and am proud of working within the school each and every day. Visiting Hungary and participating in the program as a non-Jewish individual felt wonderful and it was an honor to participate. The Jewish community is very important to me because of its moral values, traditions, dedication to community service work, helping those in need, and a deeply rooted connection to family and friends. I felt like it was a perfect fit. The Hungarian schools and community welcomed me into their arms. I received several compliments from a tour guide and teachers at the Lauder school that it was amazing I was there to help and thought it was wonderful that I was not Jewish.

Before I attended the trip, I found out that my paternal grandmother has a Hungarian background. This made my experience even more meaningful. I want to explore my grandmother's lineage a bit deeper now to understand what part of Hungary her relatives came from. I plan to investigate this question over our winter break.

I hope to continue my work in Budapest with my colleagues in the years to come. I am looking forward to taking my skills as an artist and educator and applying them abroad to schools and students in order to contribute to their identity and artistic development, talking about how important the arts are in young peoples' lives.

CESJDS faculty members in Hungary with SOS International

Ben Tellie is the Art & Design Teacher at the CESJDS Upper School. He was one of six Upper School faculty members who had the opportunity to teach abroad with SOS International, a nonprofit global education connector between American and Central/Eastern European Jewish organizations and communities. Read more about their experience.

The School-wide Read: Ken Robinson's "Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative"
Dr. David Solomon

I was thrilled that Sir Ken Robinson's Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative was chosen as this year's school-wide read. The subtitle "Learning to Be Creative" is tantalizing. Can someone learn to be creative? As an arts educator, it's been a central question of my teaching. The answer is YES!

Last year, we were fortunate to have the artist David Moss visit the CESJDS community. He had us simulate a process of creative problem solving. As guinea pig, I presented the challenge of better engaging students in k'hillah activities. David asked the faculty "What kind of problem is this? Give me a word," and the faculty first answered with expected responses: "a typical problem," "an adolescent problem," "a basic problem." David dismissed those categorizations – they were too obvious.

Instead, he asked us to step outside the obvious and categorize it differently. "It's a musical problem," someone suggested. "It's a juicy problem" said another. "It's a scientific problem," said a third. I wasn't quite sure where they were going, but then someone said, "It's a homerun problem." For whatever reason, that word struck me and I chose it: "It's a homerun problem." And oh, if the students could see what happened next: the faculty was asked to act out a baseball game, pretending to be the pitcher, the catcher, the bat, the ball, describing how it felt for a ball to fly in the air during a home run hit. It was hilarious – and I had my "a ha" moment! I was going to design an activity for my k'hillah that had them moving around, from station to station (much like a baseball game) until they worked their way back to "home base." The activity was a hit in k'hillah, and I wouldn't have come up with it without seeing my colleagues pretending to be baseballs. In fact, I would have never thought to "use" baseball as a lens through which to solve this challenge. That's really what creativity is: making connections that haven't yet been made.

In this rapidly-changing 21st century, as Ken Robinson writes, it is the crucial skill for our students. We are preparing students to solve problems that don't yet exist, and make connections that aren't yet apparent. As educators, we have to teach students to solve problems in the world to come, not the world that was – and that means stepping outside our comfort zone. We have to ensure that we are fostering creative thinking, not squandering it. (I encourage everyone to watch Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk on the same subject matter which asks – gulp! – "Do Schools Kill Creativity?")

And this is where the Arts are crucial. The Arts force students to make connections outside their comfort zone. How can they not? A student has to "speak" in abstract languages – image, sound, movement – languages that are perhaps even more powerful than writing and numbers. The Arts delight, inspire introspection, and encourage collaboration – all essential skills – and they force students to make connections not readily visible. I'm reminded of a National Geographic talk by Neil deGrasse Tyson, who concludes that art education is crucial for scientists because it helps them learn to be creative.

Too often the Arts are seen as superfluous to an education – it's nice but not necessary. Writes Robinson, "We have wasted much of what people have to offer because we have not seen the value of it. Along the way we have jeopardized the balance of communities by not recognizing how our different talents and passions sustain and enrich each other ... These are not trivial matters" (286). The Arts are at the center of a 21st century education and, as I believe, at the center of life-long learning. Through the Arts we are constantly learning to be creative. I am proud to be a part of a school that centralizes creativity in our students' education.

Dr. David Lyle Solomon is the Debra Herman Berger Director of Arts Education at the Upper School.

My Experience Tutoring a Syrian Refugee Family
Daniel Morgan '19

I am a second year student of Arabic at CESJDS. Our fantastic "Usteth", (teacher), Hani Abo-Awad, hails from Israel and has a Bedouin background. Mr. Abo Awad shared with our class that a Syrian refugee family located in Prince George's County, was seeking tutors for their four children. I, along with Kate Sosland, Devira Freedman, and Ari Gershengorn, immediately jumped at this amazing opportunity to help others while using our Arabic training.

My father drove the four of us to the family's home, where we were greeted in a very warm and hospitable way. We enjoyed being able to practice our Arabic and encouraged them to practice their English. We were able to assist the children with their homework, mostly helping them to understand the English instructions and word problems. The students, a 7th grader, 6th grader, 4th grader, and Kindergartner, all benefited from our one-on-one help. Personally, I worked with the 6th grader on her math homework. Although it was challenging explaining a Venn diagram or how to do prime factorization, it was well worth it when she started to understand what I was saying in English with the help of Arabic.

The family had been living in Syria in a suburb outside of Damascus. When the civil war broke out, they had to move to Jordan and live in a refugee camp for 2+ years. They were able to come to America as refugees through the help of Temple Shalom and Lutheran Services. They arrived on August 25, 2016. The family shared with us that life here in Maryland is much better than the life they were living for the past 5 years. They still have family in Syria that they often worry about. Currently the father works two jobs and relies on his bike and public transportation to get to the hallel market and run other errands.

Although this family is of little means, they offered the highest level of hospitality in wanting to feed us special food and beverage that the mother prepared. The four of us agreed that this was one of the most meaningful and unique interactions we've ever had. We felt honored to have the opportunity to help a refugee family acclimate to the United States just as our ancestors were supported when they arrived. We look forward to returning to the family's home for future tutoring sessions.

Daniel Morgan is a member of the CESJDS Class of 2019.

Some Thoughts For The New Year
Carol Silber '16

The following post from Carol Silber '16 is from her blog "A Year in Israel: Nine months in Israel through the eyes of a gap year student."

I've always been used to the Fall holidays causing a bit of a hectic start to the year. Every Jewish day school student knows that school starts just in time for Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah to come along and disrupt any order that any teacher was hoping to introduce. In Israel, this still rings true, just on an even bigger level — nothing can really get going until the holidays have come and gone. "We'll start doing this after the chagim" is a line I've heard more times than I can count since my arrival. And since the holidays are especially late this year, my first month in Israel has felt a bit like a long, drawn-out buildup to a momentous event that will finally allow me to begin this journey for real. Bus drivers have been saying Shana Tova for weeks now! So now that this momentous event has finally arrived, now that Rosh Hashana has finally come, I thought I would do some reflecting on some of my experiences during my first month here, the start of the Jewish year, and the intersections between the two. Here goes:

A few Fridays ago, I sat at the Shabbat table of a young Israeli couple who live just down the hall from our apartment building in Bat Yam. They had me and two of my roommates over as part of a host family Shabbat that our program organized for us. At one point, the husband said that he wanted to tell a story related to Rosh Hashana. It was a story that I've heard several times, but still a good one.

In the story, a boat filled with passengers sets sail. One day during the voyage, several passengers hear a loud sound coming from one of the cabins. They go to the cabin and discover that a man inside is drilling a hole in the floor. Horrified, they shout, "Why are you doing this?" The man responds by saying, "This is my part of the boat, why should you be bothered by my actions?"

The idea behind this story, my host explained, is that all of our actions impact each other, and that we cannot see our own doings as relevant only to ourselves. He said that this is an important message to keep in mind with the High Holidays approaching, as it reminds us that we are all responsible for each other and that we all impact those around us. Hold on to that thought.

Last Wednesday, when my friends and I heard that Shimon Peres had died, it did not take us long to decide that we wanted to go to Jerusalem to pay our respects to the man who impacted Israel so tremendously. We had been in the Negev for an overnight trip, and within an hour of returning to Bat Yam, eight of us gathered at our bus stop, backpacks on our backs and burekas in our hands, ready to make our way to Jerusalem. Three bus transfers later, I found myself standing in the Knesset plaza, surrounded by hundreds of others who had come for the same reason.

The scene there was quite beautiful. Peres' casket stood in the center, guarded by soldiers and a man silently reciting Psalms. Leading up to the casket were several Israeli flags at half mast, at the foot of which were wreaths. Following the wreaths were a small collection of candles, and alongside them were several laminated letters written by children, with messages like "תודה שמעון" (thank you Shimon), or "תמיד נזכור אותך" (we will always remember you.)

When I reached the casket itself, I did not know what to think or how to feel, so I tried to imagine what Peres would want a young person like me to be thinking or feeling. The best I could come up with was that he would want me to walk away feeling the weight of responsibility on my own shoulders. I decided that he would want me to continue to believe in the ideals that he constantly fought for. He may have been the last of his generation, but he had so much faith in those young people who came after him. I imagined that he would want my friends and I to continue to push for the peace that he always believed in, even in an Israel that usually gives up on that idea.

The next day, we went to Mt. Herzl, where the funeral was held. The funeral itself was closed to the public, so we stood on a crowded sidewalk just outside the gate, where a big screen projected the events within.

In his speech, Prime Minister Netanyahu described the eulogy that Peres delivered at the funeral of Netanyahu's brother, Yoni, who was killed in the rescue mission at Entebbe. Peres had been the defense minister at the time of this operation, and had approved the mission. Netanyahu remarked that he was deeply moved by the eulogy Peres gave, and that ever since, there had been a special bond between himself and Peres.

It was just a small part of what he spoke about, but for me, it resonated with a larger idea about how this country works and the types of relationships that exist here.

Bibi said it himself — "He came from the left, I came from the right." They had a constant fundamental disagreement: will peace achieve security or will security achieve peace? They were against each other constantly about so many topics. And yet, there was Bibi, standing by Peres' casket, saying "I loved you."

This country never ceases to amaze me, and that was especially true last Friday when I heard Bibi's words. They taught me that there is an inextricable link between people here, a link that even the biggest political rivals cannot avoid. And while this seems extraordinary, it also makes so much sense.

In a country this small, with so much struggle and pain, where everyone has sacrificed something or someone, there is almost always room for connection, even where connection seems most unlikely. For me, that is the truest manifestation of the message behind the story about the man who was drilling a hole on a boat. The holes that have been drilled in Israeli society have not solely impacted those on the right or those on the left, those who are religious or those who are secular. They are shared holes, shared wounds, that impact everyone. What's incredible is that these holes do not break Israeli society but, somehow, make it stronger. Somehow, these holes bring together those who seem most separate.

I hope that all of us, those in Israel and those all over the world, can figure out ways to connect with people with whom we seem to have nothing in common. Let's hope this new year is filled with connections, with people who are focused on bridge-building rather than hole-drilling. Shana Tova U'Metuka to all.


Carol Silber '16 is living in Israel as a student on Year Course, a gap year program run by Young Judaea. You can read more about her experience on her blog.

If You Build It, They Will Come
Dorie Ravick

Last spring, I wrote about the amazing opportunities that the College Guidance department are provided to go and visit colleges and universities throughout the country and world. We attend conferences in Ocean City, WIlliamsburg, San Diego, and Columbus, Ohio. However, one of the staples of fall in the College Guidance offices at CESJDS are the Admissions Directors that we see on a daily basis coming to share their knowledge and love of their schools with our current students.

In my previous life as a Senior Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions at George Washington University, the majority of professional football season would be spent on a plane, train, or sitting in an auditorium introducing GWU to eager seniors in high school. Much of 'travel season,' as we so fondly called it, was spent visiting high schools, both those I had existing relationships as well as new schools. The best part of travel season besides meeting interested students, was reconnecting with my colleagues on the high school side. It was invigorating, energizing, and extremely helpful. It reminded me that they were working just as hard as I was, but in a completely different way. Our colleagues on the high school side were advocating for US before we started advocating for them in the depths of committee later in the winter.

Now, as an Assistant Director of College Guidance at CESJDS, fall takes on a whole new meaning, as my days are not spent listening to my GPS navigate me throughout Long Island or Los Angeles, rather greeting our peers from the college side who are making their annual pilgrimage. You have heard me say numerous times that a large part of our job is based on the relationships we create with our colleagues in higher education. We both work tirelessly on the ground for our students, whether it be editing essays, standing behind a table at a fair, or hosting (or attending) a program like Inside College Admissions, all for the greater goal of finding the right fit for our students.

We are fortunate that we have close to 80 colleges and universities that recognize the significance of visiting CESJDS, and come here annually. Some years, there are new faces that grace our halls, whether new to an office that we regularly see or a new school has decided to come and speak with us and our students. On both the college and high school sides, it is truly like a reunion--and an opportunity to catch up with an old friend with whom you have so much in common with, but only see 2-3 times a year.

At CESJDS we have built a reputation, environment, and office that representatives are eager to return year after year. We have created friendships as colleagues, but most importantly, they are so wildly impressed with the caliber of our students that they want to meet the newest batch of students that they will eventually be able to call their own.

While James Earl Jones was referring to a desolate cornfield in Iowa when he uttered his now famous phrase, "If you build it, they will come..." the College Guidance department here at CESJDS has worked extremely hard to "build it" and we are fortunate enough that year after year, our friends from the college side keep coming back.

Dorie Ravick is an Assistant Director of College Guidance and member of the CESJDS Class of 2001.

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