MILTON Students Reenact U.N. Partition Vote

Written by Ronit Greenstein on . Posted in Features

On Nov. 29, Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital (MILTON) marked the 70th anniversary of the United Nations (U.N.) Partition Vote recommending an independent Jewish State in part of the ancient land of Israel with a special reenactment of that historic event. Every student in grades two through six was assigned to a delegation representing one of the 56 countries that were members of the U.N. at that time. Moetzet talmidim (student council) officers sat in the U.N. Secretary General’s seat and conducted the roll call.

Korbanot on Trial

Written by Elizabeth Guberman on . Posted in Features

I have gained so much this year from the engaging and creative teaching style of Mrs. Riesel’s Chumash class at the Berman Hebrew Academy. We recently learned about korbanot (sacrifices or offerings) in the book of Vayikra through the different views of the mefarshim (commentators). In order to test our knowledge, Mrs. Riesel had the exciting idea of holding a mock court case.

What is Beth Tfiloh Lower School’s ‘MakerSpace’?

Written by Rina Goloskov on . Posted in Features

Innovation, collaboration, and creativity — these are critical 21st century skills that all students need to learn. Lower School students at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School in Baltimore are cultivating these skills in a whole new way, thanks to the school’s new MakerSpace. 

No preschool? No problem! Gesher Throws Free Preschool Concert

Written by Jennifer Scher on . Posted in Features

On Thursday, Dec. 7,while area Jewish preschools were closed for professional development, Gesher Jewish Day School (JDS) hosted its own special party; a community-wide preschool concert. Dan Finkel, Gesher JDS head of school said, “The concert captures a piece of Gesher’s mission, and Gesher’s heart and soul by creating an engaging opportunity for children and families from across the community to connect around Judaism, learning, and fun.”

An Emblem of All That Was Lost — and All That Survives

Written by Seth Jacobson on . Posted in Features

On Sunday, Dec. 3, Congregation Beth El of Montgomery County rededicated a Torah scroll with a deep connection in this community. This Czech refugee survived the Holocaust, endured a long journey across oceans, and has made its home in Bethesda, Maryland, since 1991. In poor condition when it arrived, the 200-year-old Torah scroll is still not kosher (not fit for ritual use), but it has undergone a preservation process to ensure its survival for future generations. Now in a new case, this fragile and precious object will continue to be displayed and serve as a central piece in the congregation’s education program.

Giving Well All Year Round

Written by Gabe Aaronson on . Posted in Features

In 2012, the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation started “Giving Tuesday,” a day dedicated to charitable giving, as a counterbalance to the growing consumerism of the holiday season. According to USA Today, nonprofits raised $168 million on Giving Tuesday last year from 1.6 million contributors. And these numbers are growing every year: Blackbaud, the biggest processor of Giving Tuesday donations, processed 472 percent more donations in 2016 than in 2012.

CESJDS Seniors Honored at Dinner of Champions

Written by Laurie Ehrlich on . Posted in Features

Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (CESJDS) seniors Alex Arking and Natalie Granader recently ended their high school sports careers at with a bang as recipients of the Hyman M. and Phillip D. Perlo High School Athlete Award. The award honors outstanding 12th grade scholar-athletes who attend school in the Greater Washington, D.C., area. It was presented to them at the Bender JCC’s Dinner of Champions, which supports Camp JCC’s nationally recognized inclusion program for children, teens, and young adults with special needs. Arking was honored for track and field, and Granader for swimming.

Arking, a CESJDS student since first grade, won first place in the triple jump at both the PVAC and Montgomery County Championships and currently holds CESJDS’s record in the event. Arking also broke the previous school record and placed second in the 1600 meter, and placed third in the 3200 meter during the 2017 track season. He earned multiple All-PVAC honors for top finishes in both cross country and track & field, and this fall he helped the cross country team win the PVAC championship for the fourth consecutive year.

In addition to running for CESJDS, Arking also ran the 2017 Miami Half Marathon through Friendship Circle, did an Olympic-length triathlon, and participated in the Maccabi Games. He was flattered to have received the Perlo Award, and said he is looking forward to culminating his academic career at CESJDS and heading to Israel and Eastern Europe on the Irene and Daniel Simpkins Senior Capstone Israel Trip in February.

“I have a few months left to figure out how I’m going to run while doing all of our scheduled activities,” said Arking. He hopes to attend the University of Maryland next fall, where he will join the running or triathlon club.

Granader transferred to CESJDS from another local private school at the beginning of high school. Throughout her three and a half years CESJDS, she said she gained a genuine appreciation for the welcoming and warm community, especially the teachers who have always looked out for her best interests. Granader began swimming when she was 8 years old through All-Star Aquatics and has been swimming with the club ever since. She loves swimming because “it is my time to be alone in the water, focus on the finish line, and get a ton of energy out!” she said.

Granader will head to Tulane University next fall, and is both excited and nervous for the next step in her life. She was so happy to receive the Perlo Award, and was thrilled to be a part of such a special evening that raises money for an incredible cause.

At the Dinner of Champions, CESJDS Alumni Parent Dr. Amy Subar was inducted into the Greater Washington Jewish Sports Hall of Fame as a triathlete. Her three children attended CESJDS: Zach ‘04, Micah ‘07, and Ayal ‘14.

By Laurie Ehrlich

 Laurie Ehrlich is the communications director at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (CESJDS).


Learning About Justice at KSDS

Written by Editor on . Posted in Features

On Nov. 29, seventh graders at Krieger Schechter Day School in Baltimore learned from representatives of different organizations and career pathways about the idea of “justice.” Hebrew and Judaics Studies teacher Sally Grobani is leading a year-long, cross-curricular study of the pursuit of justice with the class.

Reading and Understanding Data on Anti-Semitic Incidents

Written by Malka Goldberg on . Posted in Features

What is a Hate Crime?

The Hate Crime Statistics Act (HCSA) of 1990 defines hate crimes as “crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, gender or gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.” The HCSA also required the Attorney General to collect data on these crimes, and this responsibility was delegated to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program.

“It is important for the community to understand what is — and is not – a hate crime,” a DC Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson said. “First and foremost, the incident must be a crime. Although that may seem obvious, most speech is not a hate crime, regardless of how offensive it may be. Therefore, speech demonstrating bias could be classified as an incident.”

How to Read the Data

Many organizations — including state and local police, the FBI, the ADL, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) — track hate crimes on some level. However, each institution uses different time frames, definitions, criteria, and data sources, so the numbers cannot be compared on a one-to-one basis.

To gain a comprehensive, nuanced understanding of what the numbers really show, start by identifying the following data points:

Type of incident: Some reports, like the FBI’s Hate Crimes Statistics report, only include hate crimes, while others, like the ADL’s Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, also include non-criminal bias incidents.

Data sources: ADL compiles data from press reports and its 26 regional offices. BJS data come from the National Crime Victimization Survey, which is self-reported. State police departments track crimes reported from local precincts, and these data are reported to the FBI for use in the HCSA report.

Time frame: ADL’s recent report looked at the first nine months of 2017, while the FBI just released the HCSA data for 2016, and the latest BJS data available are from 2015.

Raw numbers: ADL reported a 67 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the first nine months of 2017 compared to the same time period last year, which amounted to 520 more incidents in the entire country. The smaller the scale, the more important it is to look at the raw numbers behind the statistics.

Comprehensiveness: More than 90 cities with populations above 100,000 reported no hate crimes or did not submit data to the FBI HCSA in 2016.

Accuracy: Although the HCSA requires all states to report hate crime data, ProPublica found that 38 states do not require police academies to teach officers how to identify and investigate hate crimes.

Data from the organizations mentioned in this article show that anti-Semitic incidents are increasing. While this trend should absolutely concern the local Jewish community, it is important to keep these numbers in perspective. “The number of anti-Semitic incidents is going up, but the number of reported incidents are low relative to the total population,” Ezickson said. “However, these numbers do not reflect the disturbing and growing trend of online anti-Semitism expressed every day across social media platforms.”

New Tracking and Reporting Resources

ADL Hate Crime Map: This interactive tool allows users to view hate crime laws and FBI HCSA data from 2004 – 2016 by state. Visit

Documenting Hate: ProPublica created this database with a broad coalition of media organizations and civil rights groups — including ADL — to improve hate crime tracking by crowd-sourcing hate crime data from victims, journalists, and advocacy groups. Visit to learn more or report an incident.

Hate Crime Help: This platform — created by CuroLegal in partnership with Cisco Systems and the American Bar Association’s Center for Innovation —  combines a crowd-sourced incident reporting tool with clear explanations of relevant laws and resources for further assistance. Visit to report an incident, compare state and federal hate crime laws, learn about the difference between hate crime and bias incidents, or find assistance.

Malka Goldberg is the Community News editor for Kol HaBirah.


Beth Tfiloh Students Gain Insights Into Life With Disabilities

Written by Editor on . Posted in Features

High school students at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School in Baltimore participated in an intensive two-day disabilities awareness experience on Nov. 13-14. They explored the challenges people with physical, emotional, hidden, and overt disabilities face on a daily basis through the program, which gave students access to people living with disabilities as well as professionals at organizations providing services to people with disabilities. Disabilities Awareness Club student co-chairs Kayla P. ‘18 and Lindsey R. ‘18, along with Rachel Levitt Klein, director of high school student life at Beth Tfiloh, spearheaded the program.