Social Justice & Inclusion at JCHS

שבתורה יט: גדול כבוד הבריות שדוחה [את] לא תעשה שבתור
Great is the duty of honouring one’s fellow-creatures, since it overrides Torah prohibitions. (Berakhot 19b)

כבוד הבריות (honouring one’s fellow-creatures) is very highly prized; there is no principle that is more highly prized. The rabbis laid down a cardinal rule: great is human dignity…(Meiri, Bet Habehirah, Berakhot 19b)

The Rabbinic concept of kavod ha’briot, honoring the dignity of every person, is the foundation of JCHS’s approach to inclusion and our deep commitment to social justice education. We are dedicated to supporting positive identity development for every student and fostering respect for the experiences of others. Through formal instruction, spiritual reflection, and student activities, we cultivate a school culture of empathy and principled action. 
JCHS is committed to promoting a climate in which each student feels a deep sense of belonging and ownership. We strive to graduate students who are prepared to live and lead in a diverse and complex world. 
We enact these values through the following initiatives:

Student Support

  • The Student Advisory Board implements anti-bias and diversity education in our school around issues of identity and power, race, gender, class, religion, sexuality, etc.
  • Among our student-led affinity groups are the Gender & Sexuality Alliance, Russian Club, Mizrachi Heritage Planning Committee, and other identity-based groups.
  • In 2016, JCHS became the first Jewish day school nationally to conduct a School Climate Survey in order to gather data on the particular experiences of school community members. The survey results help us better understand how to build a stronger school community, one in which each individual feels safe, supported and affirmed.
  • Annually a cohort of JCHS students attend the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, a multiracial, multicultural gathering of student leaders to learn strategies for social change.

Professional Community

  • The faculty-led Anti-Bias & Diversity Steering Committee advances curricular and co-curricular programming
  • JCHS encourages Professional Community growth and development through cultural competence workshops, reading groups, faculty meeting workshops and participation in conferences that include the People of Color Conference and White Privilege Conference
  • As members of POCIS (People of Color at Independent Schools), we participate in a network of educators building inclusive curriculum development, fostering leadership in students and adults of color, and committing to long-term and sustainable equity and inclusion practices.
  • In hiring, we explicitly seek out faculty and staff with the knowledge and skills to promote diversity rooted in equity and social justice.

All-School Programs

  • JCHS is the first and only school in the nation to be a partner organization in the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, which is dedicated to mobilizing American Jews to fight for justice within the United States and to addressing racial justice within themselves as organizations.
  • As a No Place for Hate School in partnership with the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), we offer anti-bias peer trainings to students.
  • The entire school convenes for weekly assemblies for school-wide learning about local and global issues. We focus on amplifying diverse viewpoints and marginalized voices. Recent assemblies have featured:
    • Student Learning Disabilities Panel
    • Intersection of Identities
    • Undocumented UC Davis Students
    • Formerly Incarcerated Community Organizers focusing on restorative justice and re-entry
    • Log Cabin Republican
    • Moving Beyond the Myth of Masculinity 
    • Race & the History of the Western Addition
    • The Street Sheet: Voices of Those Facing Homelessness in SF
    • Modern Day Slavery – nonprofit organization that aims to end human trafficking 
    • Axis Dance Troupe – a globally acclaimed ensemble of performers with and without disabilities.
    • Interfaith Panel 
  • Through our neighborhood partnerships with organizations like Mo Magic and The Village Project, we shared faith-based and cultural events throughout the year
  • We collaborated with Be’chol Lashon(focused on building ethnic, cultural, and racial inclusiveness in the Jewish community) to develop the first Jewish Teens of Color Summit 
  • We are creating a Jewish-Muslim Student Dialogue Program in partnership with the Islamic Networks Group.
  • We have created a robust integration of Mizrahi history, culture and customs in our Jewish Studies courses and informal programming (Jews from the Middle East and North Africa)
  • JCHS celebrates the diversity of our community through Hispanic Heritage Week and Mizrahi Heritage Week
  • We foster LGBT programming within the school and through partnership with LGBT organizations such as Keshet and The Q: Queer Jewish Teen Group
  • We sponsor school-wide programs that pro-actively nurture a culture of pluralism and cross-cultural understanding, such as the annual All-School Shabbaton Retreat and our daily Tefillah (prayer or reflection) program (ranging from traditional, liberal, and egalitarian to more creative approaches, including art, journaling and yoga.) 
  • We have developed a Community Engagement program that culminates in 12th Grade Service Learning Trip to New Orleans teaching cultural intelligence, cross-cultural communication, identity awareness

The Community Engagement program at JCHS exposed me to social and economic injustices in local communities such as the Western Addition. That inspired me to play a bigger role in my community and help those who are struggling. JCHS taught me how to transform an awareness of an injustice into a mission to right that injustice.  

-Boris Shkurko ’13
Roni Ben-David
Director of Social Justice and Inclusion

415.694.5772 x175