Three local families wished to send their children to Jewish schools to teach them about the Jewish religion, history and culture, and ensure they received a quality general studies education as well. What they found exceeded their expectations: Not only did their children learn about Judaism in day school, but they also came away with a strong sense of Jewish pride, the tools to thrive in the real world and a love for their community of fellow Jews.
Julie, mother of Talia and Daniel
When we moved to Seattle from Boston, our daughter had a friend in a Seattle day school whom she knew from Boston. Joining that day school community made the move so much easier for us.
At a day school, being Jewish is what your child has in common with everybody else, instead of any other setting it would be what makes them different from everybody else. It doesn’t really matter what prayer they learn or how observant they are, the bottom line is, it creates an immersive Jewish community.
In addition, Jewish day school lets them live in Jewish time and celebrate holidays in real time. They get to feel globally connected to the Jewish community. And we’re connected by what they are doing.
Today’s world is huge and there are so few boundaries. Jewish education and Jewish school is such a good toolbox for living a healthy and productive life; it’s a passport for wherever they are in the world. They will find Jewish people and have a connection. I feel that day school will have a life-long impact on them.
My wife is Catholic and I am Jewish. Growing up, I went to public school and attended Hebrew School in the after school hours. I hated it [Hebrew school] and wanted my kids to have a better experience. But it was not a foregone conclusion for our family that we would send our kids to day school since we had a lot of great choices among private schools and the local public school.
We really looked at the decision where to send our children holistically. Importantly, we asked ourselves “What kind of values would be instilled as part of the entire package?” Quality of the general education was very important to us. Beyond that, we knew a Jewish-based education would address values — things that public school or secular private school would not.
We also felt that parents who are considering private school for their children value education. And being in a Jewish day school would align us with families with similar values.
One thing I noted, and would tell other parents to look for, is the warmth of the teachers. At the Jewish day schools, the teachers hug the children in the morning when they enter the class. Little things like that conveyed a warmth to us that we couldn’t find elsewhere.
Ultimately, we found the right place for our children that matched the spiritual and educational environment we wanted for them and our family.
Marcy, mother of Charlie and Eli
We had moved to Seattle and chose our home because we wanted to be in a good public school neighborhood. We started our boys’ schooling at the local JCC for preschool. Though many families moved on from preschool to Jewish day school, we first tried public. We quickly became unhappy with the first grade experience. Initially we did not know where to go next.
At first, when we toured a Jewish day school, we thought it was not for us. We saw boys in kippahs. It did not feel like us; it felt too Jewish. But we took a gamble, because we knew families at the school, and we were delighted and surprised.
I’m very planned and programmatic. So doing something on a whim was out of the ordinary for me and my family. But it payed off in dividends. We loved the small class size, and the intellectual rigor that the dual curriculum offered. And then the Hebrew on top of it! I never felt very Jewish in my upbringing; I’m happy my boys are having a different experience. They’re proud of being Jewish.
We now feel wholeheartedly that the most important thing about being in a Jewish place is being with your Jewish people. But we’ve definitely become more observant with our boys in day school. I leyned (read Torah) at my son’s bar mitzvah, and I was proud of myself. Having the boys in Jewish day school turned out to be a tool for my own personal experience too.