Where does our passion for SHA come from?

My answer begins with a picture of Jewish school children.

This is Odessa, around the year 1919.

odessa

In the center – seated, is their teacher, Rivkah Miriam Twersky, born in Berdichev to a rabbinic family – with a mind of her own, she left home to pursue her passion – to teach Hebrew.

My answer continues with this next photo

pesha-chayah

Pesha Chaya Sapir – the firstborn of another rabbinic family. Early on, her unique brilliance and love for Torah study was recognized. She grew to be scholar – the only woman to be listed along with European sages and rabbis.

They are my two grandmothers.Their stories are essential ingredients of the passion that motivates me to be whole-heartedly committed to Jewish education and to SHA.

I walk into SHA each morning feeling blessed; I am part of providing outstanding Jewish education to the children of our community.

At SHA we work diligently to offer an impressive rigorous academic program. School is so different than when most of us were young. Now we know that “students at the center of their learning” is best practice. It is the direction that the finest schools in the world are moving towards. To do this, SHA teachers must engage in dynamic planning for our students.

  • Our Sixth and Seventh Graders are dissecting in their Biology class – meeting high school standards.
  • SHA Second Graders are collecting wood from our old growth forest and fashioning menorahs that they will design themselves.
  • Third Graders are learning to take ownership of their studies – they set goals and chart their own progress and in both reading and writing.
  • Our Eagles have been fascinated of late with the moon – and its phases – together they are creating a space suit for their journey.
  • In Physics Class Eighth Graders built a sample rocket and test-launched it.
  • Meanwhile the Advanced Girl’s coding class is experimenting with and teaching each other how to create 3D designs that they print using a 3D printer.
  • Middle Schoolers learned how to change a tire in their Life Skills Class
  • Seventh Graders are creating board games that sharpen their knowledge of the Book of Vayikra.
  • Our students love talking in Hebrew with Yikrat, our Israeli Shinshinit – a young woman volunteering here for the year.
  • SHA students participate in a vibrant Athletics program – our girls Volley Ball team had a winning season and one of our Eighth Graders was the Cascade Region track Champion and our Basketball season is just getting started!
  • And just recently, SHA students were chosen to pilot a new coding curriculum developed by the Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education using circuit and Arduino boards
  • Each week Fourth Graders spend time at STEAM stations – exploring their own interests from robotics to knitting to designing – constructing solutions for “real world problems”

This level of instruction requires meticulously honed expertise and tremendous devotion – teaching that is both an art and a science.

School is not just subject matters – it is community – it is Likrat Shabbat Assemblies, singing and stories, and Class Meetings. It is learning to speak kindly to each other and how to verbally appreciate each other deeds and strengths. It is all the warm and wonderful that is SHA.

Our kids learn about kindness and empathy through our Social Emotional curriculum. They are reading buddies and donators of bags and bags of groceries to the JFS Food Bank. During Random Acts of Kindness week they delivered flowers to our neighbors and later worked hard to furnish an apartment for people who had no home.

SHA teachers and SHA staff and our incredible Admin leadership; Liora, Rebecca, Dave and Bev — all make this happen with day-in-day-out creativity, enthusiasm, warmth and determined commitment to excellence.

All of us recognize the unique capacity of day schools to further Jewish continuity. We know that Jewish Day Schools are the essential institution to a thriving Jewish community.

Research from the Cohen Center finds that day-school alumni demonstrate the highest levels of academic confidence and success and exhibit significant advantages over their peers who are public- and independent-school graduates. The Cohen Center study also reveals that day-school graduates express a stronger commitment to addressing the needs of the larger society and a greater desire to making difference in the world by helping those in need, volunteering their time and finding careers that advance society.

SHA is  grateful to be the oldest – and the largest Jewish Day School in Seattle.

This year SHA is blessed with a growth enrollment of 227 students – 25 students more than last year – a 12.5 % increase.

You are here this morning because you know that we need your passionate support and your ongoing open-hearted generosity, with it SHA is able to continue growing and Dreaming Forward.