Reflecting on Nearly Ten Years as a Community Jewish Day School

At Hillel, we strive for Jewish unity, not uniformity. Our Jewish traditions and core values help our children grow into knowledgeable, action-oriented Jews who view others with respect and understanding.

Children learn by example, so it is imperative that these kinds of positive attitudes and behaviors be modeled at home, and reinforced at school.  Sadly, many Jews do an effective job promoting disrespect among fellow Jews who choose to live and practice Judaism differently from the way they do.  I have never been able to understand this.

Almost 10 years ago, Hillel Day School, formerly affiliated with the Conservative movement, became a Jewish community day school in order to foster an environment where Jewish children and their families could celebrate all that we have in common, and to learn how to respectfully accept differences in observance and thought.

In the years since becoming a community day school, we have successfully preserved our commitment to Halakha within the school environment to ensure the maximum inclusion of Jews wanting this educational environment.  We have become more effective at communicating our mission and incorporating our core Jewish values into the curriculum and the everyday life of the school.

While the school community fully embraces a halakhic, egalitarian approach to Jewish life and ritual, we also want to foster understanding of the myriad expressions of Judaism, and respect for each individual Jew to explore and create a meaningful relationship with God, and the Jewish people.  At school we discuss our collective story, the various approaches to religious practice, and the many ways to understand God.  The home is the place to clarify with your children your personal beliefs and practices. You are the guide on your children’s Jewish path. We at school encourage families in their personal practice; and we acknowledge the rights of all to make their own choices.

As you might infer, creating a diverse yet respectful Jewish learning community at Hillel is both exciting, and wonderfully challenging! By offering different experiences, such as Shabbatonim and our eighth grade trip to Israel, and allowing our children to ask probing questions, we remain steadfast in our commitment to help our students to grow into committed, knowledgeable Jews.

Hillel, as a community Jewish day school, has even greater relevance in today’s “prosumer” world where Jews, especially millennials, want to be producers of their own Jewish experiences.  This phenomenon will likely continue for the foreseeable future.  It makes as much sense in 2018 as it did in 2009 to provide our students and their families with a variety of authentic ways to continually engage with and express their Judaism, and to connect to the Jewish people, built upon a foundation of knowledge, thought and understanding.

To that end, I invite you to participate in our upcoming Jewish family engagement initiatives, including Let’s Get Cooking for Shabbat on February 1, Hamentaschen Wars on February 11, and our Mystery Shabbat Dinner on March 9.


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