Our Stories

A Tradition of Gratitude

November 24, 2015 by Naomi Reem (Faculty and Staff)

Head of School Naomi Reem stands on the porch of the South Campus holding a sign that reads "#Grateful".In the Jewish tradition, the first thing we do every morning is to give thanks for being alive, just as our students do at the start of tefilah at school, literally thanking God for giving us our soul back after the night’s sleep. Gratitude is firmly entrenched in Jewish life; we give thanks for our food, for the opportunity to do mitzvot, for the small miracles of everyday life, for being alive, and having a soul.

Giving thanks is also firmly entrenched in American tradition. Thanksgiving Day is a tradition that I adopted very early upon moving to the United States. Pausing to give thanks is a powerful way to nourish our souls. There is even research suggesting that people who cultivate a sense of gratitude in their lives are happier and may live longer!

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. As I reflect today, here is what I am grateful for:

A community of parents that sustains our school every day, and recognizes and values the central place that JPDS-NC plays in the lives of their children and their families.

A strongly committed faculty and staff who daily put the needs of the school and their students in front of their personal needs, and who attend to all aspects of our students’ lives at school with care, love, and professionalism every moment of every day.

A Board of Trustees who take the responsibility for the long-term success of JPDS-NC with determination and care, who put at the service of the school their brain power, professional skills, financial support, and many, many hours of hard work.

An amazing community of friends and supporters, including some who have been with JPDS-NC for many years, making it possible and relishing how much the school has accomplished since its beginnings 27 years ago. In a unique place among them stands Dr. Robert Schattner, who single-handedly ensured much of our growth and success through his contributions and friendship at critical times in the life of JPDS-NC.

The incredible opportunity we have before us to shape the future of our school as a full Pre-K to 8th Grade Jewish community day school in the heart of our nation’s capital. We are thankful for the family of Milton Gottesman and for Ambassador Alfred Moses, who set before us not just most of the funds to build a middle school, but the opportunity to re-create our whole program in a beautiful and modernized building. They also inspired others in our parent community to step up and embrace the idea, such as Chani and Steve Laufer, and the families that are joining them to fulfill the match they set for us.

Our students – most of all. They challenge us every day to do the best we can for them. They reward us with toothless smiles and sticky hugs, with serious conversations and ideas, with the joy of learning and the joy of giving they show to us, and the satisfaction of seeing them reach higher and higher every day.

Stories of a Jewish Community Day School is the place in which all our voices can be found – the staff and faculty, the Board, our parent, alumni, and grandparent community, our students, and our friends.  It is the place to learn about who we really are, how we think, how we learn, how we create. We are proud to be sharing what makes JPDS-NC a school with a soul, nurtured by all of us, and a school in which intellectual excitement and joyful learning are alive every day. I am grateful for the opportunity to share this experience with you!

Happy Thanksgiving Day to you and yours, and may we all have many opportunities to express our gratitude to one another.