JCDS Chametz Fest launches Passover season

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Chametz Fest 2017, sponsored by the Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island, was a smashing success. A wonderful time was had by the more than 270 people who attended the March 26 event in the Temple Emanu-El social hall. The food was spectacular and nearly $10,000 was generated to support the school's Parent Association. That money goes toward providing tuition assistance and educational field trips for JCDS, among other uses.

The annual event marks the approach to Passover with a kind of "last-blast farewell to chametz," said Naomi Stein, director of admissions at JCDS. The meal consisted of a pasta buffet with several different kinds of pasta and sauces, and a make-your-own ice cream sundae bar. There were also organized children's activities, plus a professional clown (played by Sam Miller, grandparent of a JCDS student) who circulated all evening entertaining and making balloon animals and hats. A wine bar was available for the adults, several of whom could be seen sporting balloon hats as well.

"It was particularly gratifying," said one attendee who preferred not to be identified, "to see such a wide spectrum of the community present. There were not only current JCDS families but also grandparents, alumni and prospective families. Rabbis from several East Side congregations also were there."

The focal point of the event was the fundraising. "Each of the seven grades at JCDS, plus the Parents Association and the staff, produced a themed basket to be raffled off," Stein explained. "Most of these included contributions from local merchants, who were incredibly generous in supporting the school. On top of that, parent volunteers worked really hard to obtain spectacular items for a silent auction, including jewelry, artwork and even a couple of vacation rentals. Some of the items produced exciting bidding war."

There was also a clothing swap, where gently used clothing was sold for bargain prices, with every dollar going to the school.

Though event co-chairs Gabriella Rothman and Aliza Krieger led the way, Stein added, it was very much a team effort in which nearly all of the families and staff in the school participated in one way or another, from assembling baskets to selling raffle tickets to serving the food and cleaning up.

The Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island is located on Taft Avenue, Providence, and serves children from Pre-K through 5th grade.