Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School
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The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

Nathan celebrates after breaking the school record for the 3,200 meter race. Used with permission from Nathan Szubin.
Student breaks school record in track race
Mia Forseter, Sports Editor • April 21, 2024

When junior Nathan Szubin stepped up to the line of the 3,200 meter race in the Johns Hopkins Invitational Meet on April 19, he had a different...

Arditi Zarouk (second from left) celebrates the 50-year anniversary of Perach with her team at the residence of Israeli President Herzog. Used with permission from Arditi Zarouk.
Former students and staff readjust to Israel in the wake of war
Mia Forseter, Sports Editor • April 19, 2024

The Israeli embassy and military send over emissaries every year, and many of these families choose to send their kids to CESJDS. When they go...

A day of matzo meals
A day of matzo meals
Sophie Schwartz, Opinion Editor • April 18, 2024

Many people dread Pesach time, when their beloved chametz (leaven) is replaced with dry, brittle matzo. However, if presented well, matzo does...

Junior Evan Klepper gets ready for his WIS opponent to serve
Lions tennis fall short to WIS
Isaiah Segal-Geetter, Reporter • April 18, 2024

“Twenty four on 3, Mashiach on 6,” junior and tennis captain Evan Klepper said to the varsity boys tennis team before their match against...

Eighth grade visits Capitol Hill
Eighth grade visits Capitol Hill
Jonah Mitre, Reporter • April 17, 2024

To put their learning from government class into perspective, eighth grade students visited Capitol Hill on April 10 for a field trip. Throughout...

At the college fair on April 7, Pitzer College representatives boasted about their Students Justice for Palestine (SJP) club to a Jewish student.
Opinion: Colleges need to support Zionist students
Stella Muzin, Editor-in-Chief • April 16, 2024

On April 7, I attended the Washington Area Independent Schools College Fair, which was co-sponsored by CESJDS along with other schools from the...

Keeping up with the seniors

Senior+girls+enjoy+a+hike+at+Ein+Avdat+National+Park+in+Israel.+Photo+by+Ari+Blumenthal%2C+used+with+permission.
Senior girls enjoy a hike at Ein Avdat National Park in Israel. Photo by Ari Blumenthal, used with permission.

As senior Ari Blumenthal entered the area where the Nova music festival took place, he was beheld by the sight of hundreds of IDF soldiers mourning the loss of their brothers. He heard the voices of a visiting group nearby, singing sad Jewish songs. Blumenthal was moved at this moment, and felt grateful to experience this with his own eyes.

The class of 2024 has seen many sides of Israeli culture and history, exploring historic sites, hiking classic Israeli trails and immersing themselves in the vibrant culture around them.

This years Irene and Daniel Simpkins Senior Capstone Israel Trip has taken the class of 2024 throughout Israel and eastern Europe, exploring Jewish history and modern Jewish life. Students have done their touring chronologically, starting with certain biblical historic sites like the Kotel, and then progressing slowly throughout history. 

For senior Darya Dayanim, a highlight has been participating in various hikes throughout the trip. These have included Mt. Arbel, Mt. Carmel, Ein Gedi and Masada.

“On hikes you just find yourself working with people, learning these things about them, connecting with them,” Dayanim said. “It’s really nice to have it [connections] with different people.” 

The eastern Europe portion of the trip, which stopped in Prague and various sites in Poland, came as the  seniors were studying the twentieth century in their touring chronologically. They had the opportunity to visit historical locations of Jewish struggle and oppression including concentration camps and death camps, but also Jewish cities and towns where Jewish life flourished before the Holocaust. This short portion of the capstone trip ended in Prague before the students returned to Israel to continue the trip. 

A small group of eight seniors who are not partaking in the Israel portion joined the grade for the eastern Europe trip. Additionally, Head of the Lower School Rabbi Mathew Bellas came for the week and helped chaperone the trip. Having never been to Poland before, Bellas was “thrilled” by the opportunity to accompany the students for this part of the trip.

“The experience can be really overwhelming and you’re not really sure how to feel in the moment,” Bellas said. “Seeing it, hearing it, experiencing it. So you just have to go with the flow and be open to whatever comes.”

Bellas also felt it was special to be able to experience Poland with the seniors, who started their Holocaust education at the Lower School. He enjoyed being able to bond with the students and see how they have grown over their years at JDS.

“That was definitely a highlight,” Bellas said. “Just to see where it’s going and how they end and to experience how the students as young adults have grown and are able to engage in a really mature and emotional way with something that’s really, really challenging.” 

Upon returning to Israel, the program brought the seniors to more sites to learn about Israeli history.

The seniors spent a day learning about Oct. 7, where they visited the site of the Nova music festival and Hostage Square. For Blumenthal, being in Israel during a time of war has been a unique experience. 

“Something that I’ve noticed, and I’m sure other people have noticed is that what’s so special about Israel is that people are very resilient,” Blumenthal said. “And that while everything is changed, at the same time, nothing has changed, and society can function normally and feels even more united than ever, in some sense. And you just hear [it] online, [but] we’ve actually felt like we’ve seen it with our own eyes.” 

On May 7, the seniors will begin their volunteering part of the trip in which they can choose different options for where to volunteer. Some choices include helping in agriculture, working with families and packaging food for the IDF. Students will return to the states on May 17.

Overall, Blumenthal believes the experience has brought his grade closer together and looks forward to continuing to form new relationships during the rest of the trip.

“Naturally, the grade just comes together and everyone’s more comfortable with one another,” Blumenthal said. “I have been having a great time with people I don’t normally talk to on a day to day basis at school, so I’m excited for that to keep happening.” 

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