The Official Blog of Denver Jewish Day School

Want to get an email each time a new blog post goes up? Just click the yellow bell button below. Then click on "Blog" and select "Next." Fill out your contact information and select "Sign Up." 

 

Yom Kippur - How do I prepare?
  • Judaic Studies

To prepare for Yom Kippur I must be ready to be as honest with myself as possible.  I have an entire year to prepare for this. I can’t worry about the bagel and lox and all the wonderful delicacies that will come soon.  This is my time--and as I prepare myself for this day, it's important to strive to be that better person that you thought you prayed for last Yom Kippur.

Before the September 7th Freeze
  • Wabash Farmette

I was knee-deep in a fairly stressful crisis during that weekend, trying to protect the harvest and the tender plants that I feared might not survive. But I was able to celebrate the moments, enjoy the discoveries of the children, feel the magic of the community coming together in a time of need.  It was moving.  It was powerful.

A New View to a New Year - 5781
  • Judaic Studies

There has been much discussion this year about how, with the loss of traditional synagogue services and rituals, the High Holiday experience that people are used to and comfortable with will be inaccessible. This will leave many Jews wondering what to do, themselves lacking the ability or even just the will to go through such long prayers alone.  While that is undeniably true, I believe that this year presents us with a unique opportunity to get more in touch with the essence of the holidays, if only we are willing to change our typical focus.  

4 Surprising Traits Amongst the Happiest & Most Confident Teenagers In The Denver Area
  • Outside the Classroom
  • Upper Division

After educating some of the Denver area’s most successful high school students, we find that the students who truly thrive are those who stretch far beyond academic excellence. Yes, of course, good grades play a role (but that’s obvious, right?). But the happiest, most fulfilled, most confident teenagers have developed 4 core non-conventional life skills that parents often miss. 

An open letter from the Head of School
  • Head of School/CEO

In the coming months, I know that we will have to keep grinding and climbing, but I know we will reach our peak and things should get easier eventually. I am going to make sure that whatever ends up happening, Denver JDS will give its students the best possible education in the safest possible environment. It is our job to help shape and mold our next generation, especially in these most trying of times.

Nothing but Gratitude
  • Upper Division

Now, more than ever, Denver Jewish Day School gives me the opportunity to recognize what gratitude really means. Despite how vigilant we need to be to keep our community safe and still maintain community, it is a privilege to be part of this community, and I am grateful for every day that I get to spend with our students and faculty, no matter how different school looks right now.

The Power of Yet
  • Lower Division

Perseverance and hard work pay off. Failing at something the first time is merely a First Attempt In Learning. Watching our students embrace this work under the extraordinary circumstances of this school year’s start has made every moment of planning (and replanning) worth it. It reminded me again that we, and our children, can do hard things. 

Alumni Profile - Isaac Kauvar, Class of 2008
  • Alumni

Isaac's experience at Herzl/RMHA was core to the development of the values that he tries to carry with him every day -- including a focus on curiosity, compassion, community, and creativity. He continues to be amazed at how strangely good Color War was as a simulation of graduate school (late nights, building things, debating, and teamwork)

Summer Camp at DJDS was a huge success
  • Outside the Classroom

In a summer that has been unlike any other, 40 campers over a two-week stretch had the opportunity to press pause and enjoy a safe and thrilling summer camp experience at Denver Jewish Day School. 

The virtual Moot Beit Din experience
  • Inside the Classroom
  • Upper Division

Team Denver JDS - composed of seniors Shira Fox and Eitan Kochavi, junior Jonas Rosenthal, and freshman Rachel Kaufmann - had to rework and choreograph their planned presentation to fit the new medium, and did so with flair, staging a Shark Tank-style presentation of the student group in question seeking to win a grant from an incubator foundation, inspired by the activities experienced in Marty Zimmerman’s Non-Profit Entrepreneurship course.

A team to remember: The 2020 Varsity Boys
  • Outside the Classroom
  • Upper Division

If you had the opportunity to watch this year’s DJDS Varsity Boys Basketball team, I’m willing to bet you were eager to watch them play again. The reason is simple - this team genuinely knew how to play the game of basketball the right way and they had fun doing it. This team loved to share the basketball and always made the extra pass. As you watched these boys play, you quickly realized that their style of play was contagious, as was their genuine bond - a true brotherhood.

An open letter from a DJDS senior - Isabella Bush
  • Outside the Classroom
  • Upper Division

As a result of COVID-19, I have not really been looking forward to this day because I know it won’t be the same as the past and future graduations. But today I saw all of my classmates, following social distancing guidelines, and it gave me closure. It might have been the last time I see my entire class together. We were robbed of many experiences and I did not understand how much I needed to see everyone together one last time before we graduate. It truly made me so happy.

Why I know the Class of 2020 will persevere
  • Upper Division

I have watched these young men and women for the past seven years face the challenges of school, adolescence, and the larger world with courage and grit.  I have watched them captain our basketball team to the greatest season in our school’s history.  I have watched them help our fledgling literary magazine earn an award in only its second year of existence.  I have watched them excel in the classroom, and take leadership roles in all facets of our school community.  I have watched them take advantage of all that our wonderful school offers and grow into mature young men and women.

An open letter from a DJDS senior - Eitan Kochavi
  • Outside the Classroom
  • Upper Division

For me, the most difficult part is understanding that high school is over. However, as the world continues to adapt, we understand that as the oldest students in the school, it is for us to support what we know to be the best decision. We understand that while we feel like victims, the true victims are the unemployed, the hungry, the sick, and the needy. We continue to stay optimistic and we hope that the community here in Denver is healthy.
 

A Blessing for our Four Children on Passover of 5780
  • Head of School/CEO
  • Lower Division
  • Upper Division

We are blessed at Denver Jewish Day School to be inspired by our student body, comprised of children who each bring something unique and divine to the table every day. This is our blessing for them on this Passover holiday which is unlike any we’ve experienced before yet still filled with opportunities for learning, self discovery, and growth.

Three Takeaways from a Digital 4th Grade Tefillah
  • Outside the Classroom

There is so much to worry about….on every level. My son is graduating this year. What will his college experience look like? How many times do I have to ask my kids to walk the dog? I used my last paper towel this morning. But for 24 minutes this morning, my life was filled with community, hope, and comfort. It led to clarity that can serve as a beacon in the wake of whatever unfolds in the weeks to come. For that, I’m eternally grateful.

You CAN Handle the Truth
  • Lower Division
  • Outside the Classroom
  • Upper Division

My work is not easy. The world hasn’t always been friendly to Jews. Religion and intellect aren’t readily seen as going hand in hand. Paying for school in a milieu where public schools and schools of choice thrive isn’t a top priority for many. But what I can say unequivocally is that my son and his classmates, who graduate in May, are going into the world proud, thoughtful, and ready with a skill set and a mindset they could not have gained without Denver Jewish Day School.

Alumni Profile - Eric Horwitz
  • Alumni

Growing up as an Orthodox Jew in Denver Colorado, with a graduating class of three people (the first-ever graduating class from RMHA), helped Eric retain a sense of individualism and confidence, that he carries every day in the bigger wider world.  But wherever he goes, he is still most proud of his two wonderful children who are the a product of two RMHA graduates.

You Might Have Been Right
  • Head of School/CEO

As a visionary head of school, I do not have the option to be complacent.  Sitting back does not lead to growth or learning for anyone, and I see it as my job to model the values of our institution; kindness, integrity, curiosity, community, and purpose. I feel renewed, invigorated and alive with my own work to evolve and transform and I want to thank you for being on this journey with me.

Why I Look Forward to Intensives each year at Denver JDS

Intensives are a fun and creative way to ease students back into their school routine while introducing them to new topics that may interest them. It's another thing that gives Denver JDS students a unique experience and that truly sets Denver JDS apart from other schools.

What has Denver Jewish Day School done for me?
  • Outside the Classroom

I’ve been thinking about the school’s magic. Why are the kids at graduation always so confident and well-spoken? Why do they thrive in college and graduate school? Why are they so much fun to be around? Here are three things I’ve noticed as a parent:

Esports at Denver JDS? A deeper dive into Intensives Week
  • Inside the Classroom
  • Upper Division

This week, 19 students in grades 6-12 came together to solve this driving question: How can you persuade a group of decision-makers that Denver JDS should or should not adopt Esports as part of the athletic program? We have employed an array of modalities to examine this question and this cutting edge billion-dollar industry.

The Many Benefits of Attending the NCTE Conference
  • Outside the Classroom
  • Upper Division

Overall, this was an amazing, stimulating, and inspiring conference.  I am so pleased to have been able to attend, to represent Denver JDS, and honored to present my knowledge to other teachers.

What makes Israel and HIP so special at Denver JDS
  • HIP (Hebrew Immersion Program)

This is a tremendous opportunity for our students to grow in ways they never imagined, and to develop personal connections with the Jewish national homeland, something for which our people have yearned for longer than most other world cultures have existed.  It is a gift, but also a great responsibility to shape the narrative of the next generation of young people’s relationship with the State of Israel.

Faculty Profile - Get to know Ashley Landow
  • Upper Division

I work at Denver JDS because it combines two things I love to do, working in the office environment and working with kids. This school gives so many opportunities to grow as a person and grow within my religion!

Teacher Profile - Get to know Ms. Sprayregen
  • Lower Division

I felt an immediate sense of community as soon as I walked through the front doors of Denver JDS. Fostering a supportive and warm community forms the very foundation of my teaching practice and philosophy so I knew Denver JDS was going to be an excellent fit for me!

Meet the Jacobs Family
  • Lower Division
  • Outside the Classroom
  • Upper Division

We would recommend Denver JDS to other families because of its mission of providing a program strong in both social-emotional and academic training and because of Denver JDS’ amazingly warm, inviting and inclusive community.  Thanks to all of you for making this a smooth transition for us!

Teacher Profile - Get to know Mrs. Woods
  • Upper Division

I chose to leave my last school to come to Denver JDS because I believe in Jewish Education, I believe that students are amazing no matter where they are, and because I have wanted to teach at Denver JDS for many years. This was the perfect time to come to Denver JDS.

Faculty Profile - Get to know Samantha Raizen Walsh
  • Alumni
  • Lower Division
  • Upper Division

I love the community here - both from my days as a student, and now! I have so much faith in the school leadership and knew from my earliest conversations with them that everyone is here to help raise and educate our Jewish children. I am so thrilled to be part of that!

Teacher Profile - Get to know Ms. Schafer
  • Lower Division

I work at Denver JDS because every path in life that I have taken has been lit by my passions for education and Judaism. Denver JDS finds the perfect crossroads of the two things that matter the most to me. I am so happy for the opportunity to share these passions with a like-minded community.

Teacher Profile - Get to know Mr. Thayer
  • Lower Division

I am a huge fan of the culture and the inclusion that I've seen here at Denver JDS. All walks of life are welcome and the class sizes make it so manageable to teach and work on fun new skills and activities

The Beginning of an Exciting 19-20 School Year
  • Head of School/CEO
  • Lower Division
  • Upper Division

Upon reflection, I realized the source of my excitement about the start of the school comes from my deep-seated beliefs about the importance of Jewish day school education. There are so many compelling reasons to send your children to Denver JDS. Here are three that rise to the top for me.

World History Film Festival
  • Upper Division

Like teachers of any subject, I hope to convince my students that the subject matter of our course lives not only in the classroom, but “everywhere.” Practically speaking then, my goal was for my students to create an experience that others would enjoy, using history as the raw material. The challenge of producing an “experience” for a real audience tends to bring out the best in students, in part because it draws on skills that go beyond what is normally required to complete an academic assignment.

PTO Volunteers
  • Lower Division
  • PTO
  • Upper Division

We want to nurture what our kids experience in their physical space and social well-being at Denver JDS. As a PTO, we can help contribute to those objectives. PTO went through a process of asking for wish lists from both divisions, consulted with administrators and teachers, while focusing on the social, fun aspects for our kids. Here's what we're now able to do!

Kindness at its finest
  • Alumni
  • Judaic Studies

Both Craig and Shapir embodied chesed, as well as scholarship. Chesed, along with the other Divrei Chaim (Words to Live By) and middot (values) that are the foundation of the Denver JDS community are what truly prepare our children for their lives in the world. Teachers like Craig produce alumni like Shapir, graduates who are able to navigate life, in all its challenges and successes, with self-reflection, kindness, and scholarly curiosity. 

Project Based Learning: Creating a Travel Resort
  • Upper Division

PBL units are often grounded in real life scenarios and should be as “authentic” as possible. Our sixth graders recently demonstrated their expertise by taking on a science and English challenge: create a marketing tool, e.g. a website, travel magazine, or promotional video for a fictional island based on the island from Theodore Taylor's The Cay.

Reflections on the 2018-19 School Year
  • Lower Division
  • Upper Division

When I reflect and evaluate how we are doing as a school I look at the big picture. This time of year we get some important big picture data that indicates how the school is doing at preparing our students for the real world.

Make summer reading fun!
  • Lower Division
  • Outside the Classroom

Help plan a summer that will keep your kids engaged in reading and ready to return to school in the fall! 

Bridging the gap between cultures
  • Upper Division

Our school hosted a program in the Upper Division for Crescent View Academy, a local Muslim school. All of the programs are educational and teach a lot about both faiths to the students.

Geo Challenge
  • Outside the Classroom
  • Upper Division

By participating in the National Geographic Society's Geo Challenge, our sixth graders learned the value of cooperative learning, how to put creative thinking and problem solving into action, and the value of grit and determination.

Positive behavior is a learned skill
  • Lower Division

Learning how to interact positively with others is a skill, and just like math and reading skills, these social skills need to be taught.

Hands-on science is a highlight of the year for eighth grader
  • Upper Division

I really enjoy getting to experience and witness how science applies to real life. To me, that is the coolest part about Eureka Week and science at Denver JDS. Students have the opportunity to research something they find interesting, and then explore it further and make it relatable.

Theater Club

If we can get kids of different ages to take risks, get out of their comfort zone and to learn to work together as a team in the vein of theater, then why can’t these same kids go out in the world and behave the same?

Student D'var Torah by Heather Kletzky
  • Weekly D'var Torah

I really think what this week’s parashah is trying to teach us is that to help others be the best people they can be, first you need to be the best you you can be. In order to make others happy, you have to make yourself happy.

Fifth Grade Exhibition

Kids are way more fun to talk with than grown-ups. Granted, their vocabulary and cultural context may not extend quite as far as most adults’, but they are wonderfully opinionated and thoughtful about the things that matter to them. So why is it so arduous to elicit more than a grunt or “fine” (if you’re lucky) as a response to the age-old question at pick up: “How was school today?”

The importance of teaching boundaries and personal space

As parents, it’s important to be able to navigate this complicated topic in age-appropriate ways. With help from organizations like The Blue Bench, we can do our part to recognize risky situations and teach children about boundaries and consent.

Simon, David and Sam Kaufman
  • Alumni
  • Annual Dinner

As I got ready to watch the Human Fountains on Thursday night at Denver Jewish Day School's Annual Dinner, I couldn't help but think of what so many people had asked me earlier in the night. "Can you believe what this group has turned into?" Most guests naturally couldn't fathom that a one-time Color War act could end up being shared millions of times online and eventually land on national television.

Elaine Abrams delivers d'var Torah for Team Avar
  • Upper Division
  • Weekly D'var Torah

Parshat Pekudei mostly consists of the details relating to the mishkan’s structure. Essentially, the tabernacle, or mishkan, was a portable temple that the Jews used while they were wandering for 40 years. It is one of the most holy places in all of Jewish history. Because God’s presence was there, it makes perfect sense why the Torah would delve into such detail about the contents that lay within it. 

Molly Malek reading Team Atid's d'var Torah
  • Upper Division
  • Weekly D'var Torah

In a sense, our school is just like Moses and Esther. I can tell you with absolute certainty that this mishpacha (family) has created a brighter future for me and for countless others.

Color War is more than just games — it’s the ultimate in team building, community and leadership
  • Lower Division
  • Outside the Classroom
  • Upper Division

What I’m seeing is teamwork and excitement and the building of community. It’s not that kids are rooting against each other, they’re rooting for one another. Each kid is being allowed to shine in his or her own way whether it’s winning points for his or her team through a board game, academic competition, a skit, a dance or some other performance or activity.
 

Denver JDS 5th grader builds his own computer
  • Lower Division
  • Outside the Classroom

I built a PC because I want to be a computer engineer when I am older. I learned what all the different pieces do, like the power supply and the memory cards and the graphics card and mother board. The mother board basically supports everything and creates the computer from the other components. 

Student D'var Torah by Molly Malek: Tetzaveh
  • Weekly D'var Torah

It sounds like we need to struggle. We need to be under pressure to create something great. If we just had things smooth and easy the accomplishment would not be as great. In some cases, maybe the greater the pressure, the greater the achievement. Appreciation for our weaknesses and the things that make us scared is so important because the product they give us could change our lives.

Basketball Team
  • Athletics
  • Outside the Classroom
  • Upper Division

At Denver Jewish Day School, we encourage our Upper Division students to join one of our sports teams. We have a no-cut policy, meaning that every child who wants to participate can. I recall numerous times watching a child start a season as an unsure participant — with little experience — and then blossom in just the space of a couple of months into a confident leader and, more importantly, a good teammate.

  • blog
  • team sports
  • Tigers
What does it mean to be heart healthy?
  • Athletics
  • Lower Division

February is known as Heart Health Awareness Month. In our Lower Division physical education classes, we have been discussing what does it mean to be heart healthy? How can we lead physically active and healthy lives? Our students  have discussed the concepts of heart rate, pulse, and how our blood and oxygen travel from our lungs to the heart and out to the rest of our bodies. 

Parent programs

The more I understand what our children are doing, and the philosophy behind the school’s choices and priorities, the more connected I feel, and the more invested I feel in my choice to send my children to this great school.

Literacy Day at Denver JDS 2019
  • Inside the Classroom
  • Lower Division

This Friday, February 1, our Lower Division students will participate in a Celebration of Literacy Day. Each year this day serves as a reminder of the power of books in the lives of our young students. From celebrating favorite characters, to chatting with authors, to simply listening to an adult share a book out loud — the day brings a feeling of joy about books!

Words to Live By - Community
  • Outside the Classroom

Denver Jewish Day School began offering a Words to Live By (Divrei Chaim) Speaker Series at the beginning of this school year. I have attended all three of the events to date. Each time, I learn something valuable, not only as it applies to my kids’ education, but also for myself. 

HIP on camels 2018
  • Head of School/CEO
  • HIP (Hebrew Immersion Program)
  • Outside the Classroom

There are many trips to Israel but HIP is uniquely powerful and educational. There is really nothing else like it and our school community is uniquely blessed to be able to offer such an impactful experience to our students.

Judaics
  • Inside the Classroom
  • Judaic Studies

In October, we invited all parents to participate in a survey to give feedback about our Judaic studies program, including the goals and the subject areas of focus. We received over 90 responses, spread between both divisions, and we are pleased to share some of the findings here.

Hebrew Class
  • Inside the Classroom

Toward the end of October, we welcomed members of the Hebrew at the Center team. During their visit, they had the opportunity to meet with some parents and board members about our Hebrew program. We wanted to share some of the questions and answers that came out of those meetings related to the work we're doing to improve Hebrew for all of our students

Tinkering with tools and tikkun olam
  • Inside the Classroom

Children are born curious; it’s our job as teachers and parents to channel their curiosity and provide a framework for exploration. We do this by giving students voice, fostering investigation of their interests, and providing spaces for authentic learning. Our creation spaces provide a place for students’ curiosity to flourish.