When Anna Klein’s daughter, Mia, was a 4-year-old preschooler at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School (BT), her class was asked to bring in brown bag lunches for the homeless. The bags were being delivered to Beans & Bread, a soup kitchen in Fells Point not far from where the family was living at the time.
“I volunteered to drop them off,” recalled Klein, “and when I did, it was because these are the values I want my children to learn. I want them to know that they have an obligation to give back, not only to the Jewish community, but also to the global community. And, Beth Tfiloh emphasized the values of going out in the world and doing good.”
It was this commitment to civic responsibility, coupled with the knowledge that a Jewish private school education developed the Jewish identity of its students, that was instrumental in her desire to see her children attend BT.
“I attended Jewish private schools through 12th grade and am the grandchild of a Holocaust survivor, so my Jewish identity was always very strong and a big part of who I am,” she added.
“A Jewish day school education has proven to be one of the most important entities in securing the next generation of Jews — no matter how they choose to identify as Jews,” said Michael Elman, who co-chairs The Associated’s Day School Commission with David Hurwitz.
“The value added,” he said, “is that Jewish day schools also allow Jewish students to grow their Jewish identity without sacrificing academics but actually enhancing them.”
Recognizing the impact Jewish private schools have on the next generation of Jews, The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore provides scholarship assistance to students at 11 Baltimore day schools to ensure students interested in attending can receive a Jewish education.
Hurwitz, whose three children graduated from BT, believes that each of them benefited from a strong academic dual curriculum that promoted critical thinking skills and made his children well prepared for college. Additionally, the integration of Jewish values into the learning environment was critical to their development as responsible global citizens.
Liana Davis attested to further benefits of belonging to a day school community. When a family member faced a health crisis and Liana had to be there to help, her Krieger Schechter Day School (KSDS) community stepped in.
“It was amazing to see how everyone in my children’s classes rallied around us,” she said. “They were there for me to pick my children up from school, to carpool them to after-school activities and to provide play dates when I needed help. I had a built-in community that was there, helping me in any way possible.”
Many of Davis’ friends were under the impression that one has to be religious in order for a Jewish private school to be the right fit. Not true, she explained.
“At Schechter, people don’t judge. There are Jewish families across the Jewish spectrum,” said Davis, who grew up Conservadox (Conservative/Orthodox) while her husband grew up Reform.
Klein agreed. “I often hear people express concern that sending their child to a Jewish private school, doesn’t provide the exposure to deal with the real world, which is obviously a lot more diverse. But I couldn’t disagree more, and I proudly share my experience.”
“After graduating, I confidently navigated the very diverse world of Boston University, in large part because of the comfort of my strong Jewish identity,” she said.
Via Baltimore’s Child