Chesed & Community
At Bi-Cultural Day School, the staff feels very strongly that the ancient texts we teach are more than that– they are a living, breathing, vibrant part of each student’s daily life as a Jewish American citizen. Texts studied at BCDS are brought to life through experiential “real-life” practicing of the lessons and laws that are taught each day.
Perhaps the best example of this is Bi-Cultural’s “Chesed (Kindness) Club,” in which students are encouraged to take the lead, creating learning experiences for themselves and their peers as they plan events, fundraisers, drives and other social action projects. The club is student-driven, in keeping with Bi-Cultural’s philosophy that as students grow and mature, learning by doing is the best way to prepare for life in the “real world” and become a contributing member of society. Fostering leadership is one of the cornerstones of the Chesed Club, since the school believes the leaders of tomorrow are sitting in Bi-Cultural’s classrooms today.
There are numerous highlights among the many wonderful initiatives BCDS students have undertaken during the past school year. Last year, two subcommittees were formed within the Chesed Club: the Bikur Cholim Committee (helping the sick) and the Chevra Kadisha Committee (helping families of the deceased). These are microcosms of the “real world.” In every Jewish community these committees are filled with volunteer adults, who on a more intimate level, do the very same things Bi-Cultural students are exposed to at school. For example, if a student is absent for more than three days or if an illness arises in the family of a student or staff member, the Bikur Cholim Committee is informed and springs into action. When a staff member’s mother living in Israel was ill, the committee decided to send her flowers, which greatly cheered her up. When a student was in the hospital, the committee sent her a candy basket and activity book to keep her busy and let her know her schoolmates were thinking of her. Recently, students made get well cards for a classmate’s father who underwent heart surgery, just to let him know he was in the students’ thoughts at BCDS. These are small but important acts of kindness, helping others to feel better and for students to experience the joy of doing something to help someone else.
When someone passes away, Jewish tradition calls for the immediate family members to sit shiva (literally seven, as they sit for seven days). This is a time for reflection and visits from friends and relations to comfort the family members of the departed. Bi-Cultural students prepare meals for the family sitting shiva and send condolence cards from the members of the committee. Students take the initiative, making phone calls, ordering the appropriate amounts of food and following up to make sure food arrives at the right time and place.
When students graduate Bi-Cultural Day School, the staff truly believes that not only has each child been prepared for the “real world,” but the school has helped to mold a future leader who will be a contributing member of society for many years to come.