On Monday, January 21, CDS was in session for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Instead of taking the day off, for the fourth consecutive year, we took on the essential themes of race in America as we honored the life and legacy of Dr. King.
The long days and weeks since the deadly anti-Semitic attack on the Tree of Life*Or L'Simcha, New Light, and Dor Hadash congregations underscored the importance of this work. People across our community―and the world―have expressed a deep yearning to better understand issues of hatred and discrimination. We are called to teach, reflect, and act by our Jewish values of tzedakah (righteousness), gemilut chasidim (acts of loving kindness), and tikkun olam (repairing the world), and so we strive to develop in our students those tools which we all so urgently need.
Our guiding theme for this year’s learning on MLK Day was “Beloved Community.” The morning began with a community concert featuring The Afro-Semitic Experience, a Connecticut-based fusion band blending jazz rhythms with Jewish musical tropes and African beats. All day, in age-appropriate ways, children then asked the question, “how can we help realize Dr. King’s dream today, here and now?” We continued to learn about how racial separation in Pittsburgh neighborhoods impacts our daily lives and the lives of our neighbors and we invited our students to start shifting the narrative in America. Teachers in Early Childhood through Grade 8 created meaningful experiences expressing Dr. King’s vision; among the many highlights were our school-wide Mosaic Sh’vatim (Tribes) project and a panel of community leaders who responded to thought-provoking questions from students.
This day was a call to action in a time when action is sorely needed. And we invite you to write this new story with us, as well―a story in which, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.―we don’t just dream a new reality, but we help create it.