More than 400 of our CDS family and friends partied at our Jammin’ in the Jungle Gala, a safari adventure that was the perfect escape from the winter blues. Nova Place was transformed into a lush jungle complete with tigers and zebras as we gathered to celebrate CDS, our CDS community, and our honorees.
We credit this transformation to the creative genius of our Gala Committee: Rachel Cravotta, Lynn Farber, Dan Gelman, Eva Gelman, Jan Glick, Jen Goldston, Beth Jacobs, Carol Krasik, Elaine Krasik, Meirav Loberant, Ed Mistler, Blima Mitre, Hayley Perlow, Rita Rabin, Aaron Weiss—and our fearless leader, CDS Director of Institutional Advancement and Donor Relations Jenny Jones.
Safari-goers entered the vast Nova Place jungle, where they were welcomed by Schrader Steel Drum Ensemble and more than a few surprises (not limited to live snakes and an alligator). Clay “Mitzvah” masks by CDS 2nd graders were our featured thematic art pieces on display (yes, Mayan mask-design just happens to be a component of our global arts curriculum!). Guests also enjoyed the signature cocktail “Jungle Juice,” delicious safari fare, and danced through the night to the jungle beats of DJ Sosa.
We celebrated our gracious honorees, Community Leadership Award winners Lester and Barbara Parker, who are CDS alumni parents, grandparents, and Board Past President (Barbara!), as well as Volunteer of the Year, current Executive Vice President, and CDS current and alumni parent Derek Smith, who was also our longtime Treasurer (watch their CDS stories here). We were thrilled so many of the Parker and Smith family members and friends could be in attendance.
To inspire current and future investments in, AND naches (pride and joy) from, Community Day School, I was very gratified to announce, from the Jungle Safari stage, a new and significant gift to CDS. CDS parents Dan and Jaime Snyder recently decided to make a leadership gift of $150,000 to CDS, leveraging close to $100,000 more in matching funds in recognition of more than $400,000 in new and increased donations this year, with many of those gifts coming from many of you who are reading this right now. We are supremely grateful to Dan and Jaime for this leadership gift, and also so grateful to our past match donors, many of whom were in attendance at the Gala, too!
A special shout-out to alumni who were in attendance and to our youngest alumni from the Class of 2018 who sold raffle tickets with characteristic CDS ruach that could not be refused. Raffle monies raised will go toward designing and building our new playground that will replace our well-loved lower playground that is reaching retirement age! If you’d like to know more about our playground plans and want to be a part of Lower Playground 2.0, see Jenny Jones or talk with me.
Everything we celebrated that night, and every day, is made possible through the superhuman efforts of our singularly talented, highly qualified, caring faculty of educators, administrators, and staff members and the volunteer efforts of our dedicated lay leaders, Executive Committee, and Board of Trustees.
Beyond the jungle foliage and reptile encounters was an important cause. We raised more than $200,000 to support educational programs at CDS and to provide tuition assistance for families in need.
And this year, more than ever before, I want to be sure you know what these dollars are really doing for all of us. Our world was changed forever since we celebrated CDS at our annual event one year ago. But amidst the grief and horror unleashed by the October 27 synagogue attack, the power of our community rose up with bright intensity.
For me, the greatest cause for optimism comes from how our CDS students and alumni stepped up to lead this community with strength and clarity of purpose when faced with the unimaginable. When we, the adults were paralyzed and in shock, it was our students who knew what to do.
Those students, and the ones to follow, are worthy of everyone’s investment. Every dollar raised at this event, and others, goes to support the teachers and students of CDS so they can help secure the Jewish future and transform the world.