Meredith Englander Polsky's blog

One Year Later: It's All About Lucy

Just over a year ago I wrote on this blog about my daughter, Lucy, who was leaving our local Jewish community day school after first grade. I have been planning this “one year later” blog post for quite some time – and yet, when I go to put pen to paper, I don’t know where to begin.

So I’ll start with this: Lucy is doing great. She adjusted quickly and easily to public school. She is happy and confident and more than a few adults who know her have commented that “she is a different kid”. 

Meredith Polsky

Ten Ways To Make Your Family Seder Accessible For All Learners (And Keep The Grown-ups Engaged, Too!)

Editor's Note: These wonderful suggestions take the reader through steps of the Passover seder.

Passover is an ideal holiday to explore multi-sensory ideas for reaching every type of learner at your seder through activities that engage particpiants not only through visual and auditory information, but also through touch, taste, and smell. Whether your goal is to keep everyone’s attention, or help individuals understand the story, or encourage participation from every guest, below are ten of our favorite ways to keep the seder interesting, active and fun!

Yes, Joe Biden Had A Sukkah, And Matan Kids Decorated It

By this point, there's been quite a bit of buzz in the Jewish community about the fact that Vice-President Joe Biden not only celebrated Sukkot, but did so in a sukkah built on the grounds of his residence at Number One Observatory Circle.

And while this is amazing, there is more to the story, as there is more to a sukkah than its walls and roof. Hint: It's all about the decorations.

Dr. Jill Biden and the gang from Matan rejoicing at the vice-presidential sukkah. Photo courtesy Meredith Englander Polsky

Lucy, Grade 2: 'I'm Okay,' And 'I Need Help'

For the first time in 115 years, Rosh HaShanah occurs just after Labor Day and coincides with the beginning of school for children and teachers in many states across the country. While Rosh Hashanah is always a time for reflection, this Jewish New Year provides us with a unique opportunity.

Meredith Englander Polsky

Must-Read Response: At Jewish Schools, Inclusion Should Trump Local Rankings

Editor's Note: Yesterday, we highlighted a response to regular blogger Meredith Englander Polsky's piece about how she pulled her daughter out of Jewish day school. Click here for the original post and here for the comment; below is Meredith's response to the comment.

Thank you - I appreciate your response. I agree that this school (and probably Jewish Day Schools in general) face a real challenge as pressure grows to be as academically challenging as a Sidwell Friends or a Georgetown Prep. I would argue, though, that a day school's mission, then, needs to be clear. If that's the goal - to attract and retain families who would otherwise choose a Georgetown Prep - then make that explicit. Then parents know what they are choosing, and the school rejects students who will not rise to those academic challenges - probably (statistically speaking) 20 percent of currently enrolled students. (Clearly, this is not something I'm advocating.)

Meredith Englander Polsky

Two Girls -- One Verbal, One Not -- Share Smiles At Summer Camp

Editor’s Note: In this piece, Matan co-founder Meredith Polsky sings the praises of the inclusive Jewish summer camp where she works – and sends her children – during the summer. A follow-up from a camp administrator will describe the various elements that must be in place to create such a program: culture, funding and a lot of hard work. Stay tuned.

During the summer, I have the great privilege of working at one of the first inclusive Jewish summer camps in the country. The Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington has been a model of inclusion for over thirty years. Every child is welcome, no matter what the disability. We have campers in wheelchairs, campers with feeding tubes, campers with Down Syndrome and Autism and Rett Syndrome, just to name a few.

Campers cuddle at an inclusive Washington, D.C.-area day camp. Photo courtesy Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington

Inclusion And The Waze Acquisition

Two really interesting things happened last week – one that you almost certainly heard about, and one that you almost certainly did not.

Meredith Englander Polsky

How To Not Lose Your Lucy

Since I shared on this blog my family’s decision to withdraw our daughter Lucy from the local Jewish day school, I have been inundated with comments, Facebook posts, emails and phone calls. The majority of these have been parents sharing their own stories about why their child could not receive a Jewish education and reliving that heartbreak, whether it was last year or 20 years ago.

Meredith Englander Polsky

For Activist Who Founded Matan, A School's Many Failings Hit Close To Home

In 19 days, my daughter will complete her last year of Jewish day school. I had many visions in my mind for this moment: Seeing her in a cap and gown with friends she’s known since kindergarten; finding the picture of her eating ice cream with a little boy in first grade and placing it next to their prom picture; feeling pride that although we made sacrifices, my husband and I provided a solid Jewish education to our child. 

And some of those visions may have become reality, if not for the fact that Lucy will turn seven just before her last day at Jewish day school. She is completing first grade, not 12th.

Meredith Englander Polsky

The First Step: How "Josh" Inspired The Creation Of An Entire Organization

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Meredith Englander Polsky
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