JFS Perspectives

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Third Graders Put Jewish Values into Action to Benefit JFS



Third Graders Put Jewish Values into Action to Benefit JFS

Performing acts of loving kindness (gemilut chasadim), doing good deeds (mitzvot), philanthropic giving (tzedakah), and working to repair the world (tikkun olam) are all integral parts of the daily teachings at Denver Jewish Day School (Denver JDS). One way these values are taught is through the Helping Hands project, which connects each grade in the Lower Division (kindergarten through fifth grade) with a local nonprofit. JFS is the proud recipient of the third graders’ year-long community service project.

Gabe Moe-Lobeda, JFS Weinberg Food Pantry coordinator, and Nancy Benyamin, JFS Volunteer Services director, kicked off the project in November with a visit to the school. Gabe and Nancy talked to the third graders about hunger and food insecurity, told them about the food pantry, and discussed the obligation we all have to give back and help others. Gabe says, “It was great to work with all the students! They had so many good questions and ideas about food insecurity and how to solve it.”

After winter break, the third graders invited the Denver JDS community to participate in a food drive to benefit JFS. Everyone in the Lower Division received “Hope is in the Bag” tote bags with a list of items needed in the food pantry. In February, the third graders brought the full bags from the school-wide food drive to JFS and got to weigh them. They were proud to learn they had collected more than 800 pounds of food!

DJDS third graders sorting foodRabbi Rick Brody, JFS community chaplain and Denver JDS parent, talked with the students about the importance of engaging with the community and doing mitzvot. They also learned more about hunger, food insecurity, and how the pantry operates from Shelly Hines, Family Safety Net director. They finished the day by sorting the food they brought and stocking it on pantry shelves for clients to take home. 

At the end of the school year, the kids celebrated YomThird graders selling goods at their shuk Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) by creating an Israeli shuk (marketplace) at Denver JDS. The children worked diligently to make art, jewelry, cookbooks, potholders, keychains, and other goodies, which they sold and raised $1,017 for JFS! (Photo by Eric Einstein Photography, Denver JDS)

Each nonprofit partner was invited to attend the final Kabbalat Shabbat service of the school year in May. Representatives from each grade presented information about the organization and shared what they did for their Helping Hands project. The kids proudly handed checks to their designated nonprofit partner, which Gabe had the pleasure of accepting on behalf of JFS.


“The three-pronged approach of collecting food, volunteering, and raising money really helped teach the third graders about giving back to the community in a tangible way they can understand and find meaning in,” explains Nancy Benyamin. “We truly value this longstanding partnership with Denver JDS and appreciate all that the students, parents, and teachers did for JFS this year!”


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