On a mid summer's eve in July, seven families gathered for a picnic at Look Park. Special guests included Alisa's mother Susie and one of her young student friends, Emily Scott, who was just back from serving in the Peace Corps in Jordan. Susie and Emily ran a social service community problem solving
project together. The project involved students from both Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago, and Jordan. Susie has been running a program in the Highland Park public schools that we hope to transfer to CJL in the near future for 8th-9th grade students.
The program, Future Problem Solving, engages a cohort of students to identify a community need. Working together over the course of a year the group creates and implements local improvement and change.
There were about twenty of us at the picnic enjoying great food and lively conversation. We were fortunate to have tables near the water park for the youngest among us who preferred movement to table talk. Our next CJL family gathering will be on Thursday, September 25th in celebration of Rosh Hashanah.
In late July we had a mother/daughter workshop for students in the 6th-8th grade at Becky Shaw and Amanda Costin's house. The theme of the evening was Jewish values. Over the course of two and one half hours there were several experiential activities: a study of women role models, values to incorporate into our family lives and a letter writing and collage exercise
that included photos of our women ancestors. We worked in mixed mother/daughter pairs to study the lives of several highly accomplished women and wrote seven word memoirs to describe their backgrounds and accomplishments.
Many students are preparing for their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs over the summer. Inspired by Levi Civjan's short film of Jewish sites visited during his Bar Mitzvah year of study, students are being encouraged to create slide shows to share during their celebrations.
The objective is to educate the Bar/Bat Mitzvah guests about a topic unique to the students' studies. In this vein Ruby Gottlieb, who is spending 3 weeks in Poland this August, will share photos from her trip at her October celebration. Bella Greenbacher will present a slide show of 8 different organizations she is supporting through a bracelet making fundraiser. She is asking for a $15 per bracelet donation and had over 200 orders as of early July, using social media to advertise her endeavor.
In addition to working with many Bar/Bat Mitzvah students, I began work on a book this summer that will be a graphic novel geared towards the middle school set. The subject: the Shanghai Ghetto and the experiences of my son-in-law's grandmother, whose family found shelter in China during WWII.
Did you notice the new CJL logo on the newsletter header? It was created by "Alexis Design" of Northampton. Many thanks to those who shared feedback during this creative and challenging logo design process.
As we continue to grow CJL, my travels take me back to L.A. for a second visit this summer. I am attending a conference for educators called, NewCAJE 5. On the second day of the conference, I will facilitate a dialogue for other educators of independent programs around the country, in the continued effort to improve and expand our offerings. More specific info ahead for fall programming in a few weeks.