At San Diego Jewish Academy, Levana’s Garden (Gan Levana) blooms with fruits, fragrances and students eager with enthusiasm to plant and learn. Here, students apply classroom lessons about plants, insects, conservation, nutrition, biology, composting, weather, and life cycles. Our 5,000 square foot garden – truly the centerpiece of our campus – offers additional learning opportunities in subjects ranging from art to math, and language arts to Judaica.
Our large garden is made up of many smaller garden spaces:
- The butterfly garden supports a science unit about the butterfly life cycle.
- The California-shaped raised bed is planted each year by fourth grade students as part of their California social studies curriculum.
- The herb bed filled with oregano, parsley, rosemary, lemon verbena and other herbs is used in Judaic and general studies classes.
- In seven raised beds, younger students grow vegetables, fruits and herbs for eating out-of-hand and for meals prepared in the school kitchen.
- The six “species” of Israel, each mentioned in the bible: grape, date, fig, olive, almond and pomegranate.
- The grove of deciduous fruits such as apple, plum and nectarine.
- The citrus grove of lemon, lime, orange and Jewish ceremonial citron known as “etrog.”
- The greenhouse for growing seedlings and conducting science experiments.
- The open-air amphitheater used for classes in art and poetry as well as for Jewish prayer services.
Levana’s garden (Gan Levana) is dedicated to the blessed memory of Levana Estline z”l, beloved kindergarten teacher who passed away in 2003. During her 18-year tenure at SDJA, Mrs. Estline instilled a love of learning into an entire generation of children. Her positive attitude and beautiful smile endeared her to students, teachers, and all those who knew her. She was well known for inspirational sayings that are etched into large boulders found throughout the garden.
The Four Matriarchs
Located within Levana’s Garden is a new sculpture of the four biblical matriarchs – Rebekah, Rachel, Sarah, and Leah. Each of the four was created especially for the school by four different female artists working in concert: Helen Segal, Cheryl Rattner Price, Barbi Dorfan, and Sigal Sherman.
The sculptures symbolize the essence of community and together create the heart and central gathering spot for SDJA.
In addition, each matriarch embodies one of the four seasons and the sharing of water within the sculptures signifies the unique role women play to nourish and combine resources to build community.
Also part of the four sculptures dedication are decorative benches adorned with ceramic butterflies designed to honor the memory of the Jewish children who perished in the Holocaust.