Friday, October 21, 2016

The Mitzvah of Welcoming Guests to our Sukkah

This year, our beautiful Davis Academy Sukkot welcomed several hundred special guests. Most of these guests were family members that came to celebrate the festival with their children. But two extra special groups visited as well.

On Wednesday morning our 1st grade friends from the Dunwoody Springs school across the street came to learn about Sukkot from our 1st graders. They impressed us with their knowledge as they had clearly studied up. We set a joyful tone by singing, "If you're happy and you know it." From there, the children went on to share about Sukkot and eventually compare Sukkot with Thanksgiving.

On Thursday, 6th grade members of the Jewish Life Leadership team of MSLTI welcomed JF&CS's "Independence Works" group. Our 6th graders enthusiastically and graciously hosted 12 adults with a wide range of developmental disabilities some of who had never been in a Sukkah before. The students sang songs, led the traditional blessings, served lunch, and then visited with our guests. I was particularly impressed by the easy way that they interacted with people they'd never met before and who have very different and diverse backgrounds.

The Davis Academy provides many occasions and opportunities for our students to put their values into action. Welcoming guests to our Sukkah is a very meaningful and special way to share the joy of Jewish tradition with others.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Walking the Halls

I work in a school
But sometimes it feels more like a museum.
Not because it's quiet and stuffy
But because the walls are covered
With hundreds of masterpieces
Created by small hands.
Writing samples
Hebrew essays
Letters to God
Reinvented Jewish ritual objects
Photo journalism projects documenting injustice and hypocrisy.
Every hallway is a gallery
Every bulletin board an exhibit.
When the bell rings
Hundreds of artists spill into the hallways
Bringing with them a tidal wave of energy.
Endless imagination
Boundless joy
Curiosity beyond measure
Awakening social consciousness.
They shuffle past the galleries
And stroll past the exhibits
Just as curious about what someone else created
As they are to see their own latest work on display.
Simply walking through The Davis Academy one gets a serious and powerful education.
I don't have the heart to tell these artists that most of the world's hallways aren't adorned with beautiful art. 
I simply want to participate in, honor, and call attention to the creative culture
That celebrates the unique voice, special perspective, and glorious potential 
Of each individual child. 
No two masterpieces are the same. 
No two minds dream the same dreams. 
No two hands write the same poetry.
No two souls dance the same dance. 
I work in a school
But sometimes it feels more like a museum:
A museum of human dreams, hopes, and imagination.

2017 Lower School Grade Level Tzedakah Themes and Organizations

Tzedakah is integral to The Davis Academy experience. By 8th Grade, Davis Academy students have participated in countless Tzedakah programs and projects and learned a great deal about the mitzvah of Tzedakah.

 In the Lower School, Tzedakah themes are chosen in conjunction with curriculum themes in the general studies curriculum.  Each theme is connected to at least one organization and includes hands-on projects and experiences. Many grades support organizations both locally and in Israel.

In the Middle School,Tzedakah themes reflect the students' emergence as young adults in the Atlanta Jewish community. The Davis Academy's commitment to Tzedakah and Social Action extends beyond the years that a child is at Davis. Our Davis Alumni Tzedek Grant helps us continue to instill this important value in our students even after they've moved on to high school.

MSLTI, Book Buddies, Tip of Iceberg

Theme: Caring for our World
Organization: Dunwoody Nature Center

Theme: Kindness to Animals
Organizations: Zoo Atlanta, Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

1st Grade
Theme: All Things Water
Organization: World Wildlife Foundation Elachee Nature Center

2nd Grade
Theme: Hunger
Organizations: ACFB, Leket (National Food Bank of Israel)

3rd Grade 
Theme: Gimilut Hasadim (Acts of Loving Kindess)
Organization: Community Assistance Center
Book Buddies

4th Grade
Theme: Disease and Disability
Organizations: For-a-Day Foundation; ALYN Hospital in Israel
Book Budies

5th Grade
Theme: Underprivileged Kids
Organizations: Camp Jenny

6th Grade
Theme: Being Mensches
Organization: The Packaged Good

7th Grade
Theme: Personal Connection and Project IMPACT
Organizations: Each student fulfills a Mitzvah Project specific to their Bar or Bat Mitzvah and in conjunction with their synagogue community. Students have opportunities to share and engage their classmates at school. Project IMPACT brings the entire 7th grade together to form a philanthropic organization that vets, nominates, and donates funds to local, national, and Israel based charities. 

8th Grade
Theme: Connecting to Israel
Organizations: Each year students participate in a variety of community service projects on their 8th grade Israel Trip. 

Cancer Awareness Month, AVIV in the Sukkah


Davis Alumni Tzedek Grant
High school aged alumni are eligible to apply for this grant. Grant recipients receive financial support as well as other forms of support from The Davis Academy. 

Past Tzedakah Theme Organizations Include: Amy's Holiday Party, Atlanta Humane Society, The William Bremen Jewish Home, Camp Twin Lakes, Yad L'kashish,