Parents and Alumni Speak Out
“Ani O’hev Ariyot. I love lions. Morah Gvirah pointed at the board and taught us simple three word phrases. The six year olds in the room delighted with their first words of Hebrew. We all sat there, happy as could be, without a care in the world. Happy because we were with our new friends. Happy because we were finally out of preschool and were now considered ‘big kids.’ Happy because it was the beginning.
Ani O’hev Ariyot ci hem amitzim. I love lions because they’re brave. Learning my times tables, beginning my education about Israel, and many, many, teacher complaints. ‘Eitan, your teachers say the same thing every single year: He does well in class, but we can not get him to stop talking.’
‘Perdón Ma, I’ll try to stop.’ Never did. But my stay at the Golda Meir Lower School was very pleasant. With precise accuracy, and fancy footwork, my reputation on the playground was safe. With an infinite love for learning, and my at times too enthusiastic participation, the teachers began to like me, even if they couldn’t control me. Beautiful Jewish songs I can remember to this day, kosher cooking with Morah Daniella, receiving my first siddur, my first chapter book, my first book report, my first crush, my first school play, my first essay, my first steps into growing up.
Ani O’hev Ariyot ci hem amitzim veh’gah, veh le hagan et yeladim shelahem. I love lions because they are brave, proud, and because they protect their cubs. First period: ‘Are your sisters Yael and Dalia? You look just like them.’ Second period: ‘You’re a Breziner aren’t you? Your sisters are fantastic! I expect only good things.1 Third period: ‘ אחיותייך יעל ודליה’. Fourth period: ‘Mr. Breziner, I know your family very well.’ (Think to self: great). Middle school. Yes, a drastic change from elementary to middle, but a fantastic one. Especially at SDJA. Perhaps big shoes to fill considering the path my particularly studious sisters have left for me, but exciting nonetheless.
I have vivid memories of watching the high schoolers in awe, as if they were Greek Gods who had come down from Mount Olympus for a stroll. They did not look at you like a child who had no business being there. Those enormous high schoolers greeted you. The giants took a moment from their separate universe to say hello to the new fish in the tank. We learned responsibility and independence. We got our first taste of the pride you feel when wearing your school colors out on field. We learned what it’s like to roam the streets of San Francisco with a group of rowdy teens. We have learned to appreciate the beauty of our school. The beauty that presents itself to us like a gift every single day. The beauty that is embodied in the school’s values, its teachers, its students. The most beautiful thing about our school is that it isn’t just a school. It is much more than that. It isn’t even just our home. It is my journey. It is all I know; it is what I love. I don’t have a journey to SDJA, my journey is SDJA.
This is where I have been educated. This is where my friends are, my friends that have been with me since I was six. This is where my sisters went, and this is where I will graduate from. This school is a part of me. Ani O’hev Ariyot. It all began when I walked through the door in to Morah Gvirah’s class nine years ago.” – E.B., Class of 2020
“We’ve been fortunate to be part of the SDJA family for over 12 years and this is our last (2015). Words cannot express my gratitude. Thanks for making it possible for my children to attend; for teaching and coaching and guiding; for maintaining the grounds and keeping the campus beautiful and safe; for running the office or driving the bus; for leading their way each day. For everything you do, big and small, from finger paints to tefillah, from field trips to Science Fair. I want you each to know your efforts are appreciated. You Matter.
Toda Raba & Kol HaKavod!
A grateful parent”
– SDJA Parent
“For the last 12 years, SDJA has been my home away from home. I am proud and grateful to be part of the SDJA community and feel a great sense of belonging. The school has been an essential part of my three kids’ education, not only in an exceptional academic level, but with a sense of kehillah – community.” – K. B., Parent of three SDJA students
“My daughter started SDJA in the second grade and she is now finishing up 8th grade. The school has felt like a family for us and I feel the education she is receiving – as well as the morals, values, and a great understanding of Judaism – is incredibly valuable. She has a tremendous love for her school, which for me, as a parent, is so wonderful to see.” – V. S., SDJA Parent
“My son is at the SDJA preschool. He loves coming to school, he is always talking about Shabbat or some other holiday he has learned a great song for. I am so happy with the Jewish learning at the preschool. I know my son is being molded into a true mensch.” – D. M. SDJA Parent
“My child came to SDJA shy and very introverted. She received so much love and personal attention, that within a year she blossomed into one of the leaders of the class feeling confident about her identity and her capabilities. I feel truly blessed with her teachers and the staff in general.”
– D.K. SDJA Parent
As a parent who decided to move all three of my sons from public school to the San Diego Jewish Academy for High School, I read with interest Gary Rotto’s piece on his daughter’s successful transition from SDJA to (and graduation from – Mazel Tov!) Canyon Crest Academy for High School. I am so happy for her success and it sounds like his daughter is more than ready for the next exciting step in her education. As I read the piece, I couldn’t help but think about how important a role her years at SDJA must have had in preparing her to be so successful in a much larger high school. All those qualities that lead to success “out there”; menschlichkeit, a sense of self, the ability to advocate for oneself, and the confidence to experiment with unfamiliar subjects are all qualities I see nurtured every day by the faculty and staff at SDJA. And they are qualities our high school graduates exemplify when they head off to colleges and universities across the country and around the world.
High School at SDJA is small, and it is certainly more costly than a public school education, therefore not a possibility for everyone, and having 9 years of an SDJA education is certainly a huge investment. But we made the choice to move our children there for high school because we believed it would prepare our children for the larger world, rather than shelter them from it. High school at SDJA is, for many students, an “elevating” experience. They can experiment with many subjects and activities in a small, supportive, environment alongside a surprisingly diverse Jewish student body.
Collectively, my sons (one in the class of ’14 and two in the class of ’18) have worked on the yearbook, played 4 different sports, written for the school paper, chanted the Megillah at Purim, supported the school’s Moot Beit Din competition, won a regional award in the Greater San Diego County Science Fair, emceed talent shows, learned guitar, composed music for the advanced music ensemble, worked in the school’s sustainable garden and much more. They have traveled to, and learned in, Boston, Washington, New Orleans (with Habitat for Humanity) not to mention a remarkable trip with the senior class to Poland and Israel. They have celebrated Chanukah, Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Pesach, Lag B’Omer and more alongside their peers. And they have commemorated Yom Ha’Shoah and Yom Hazikaron in ways that create important connections to Israel and to the Jewish people, and memories that will last a lifetime. And two of them have only been there one year!
My older son graduated from the academy a year ago and has just finished his freshman year studying at a joint program between Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, for which the Academy prepared him well. We also currently have twins entering their sophomore year in high school. All started SDJA in 9th grade, and thus far, we are very happy with the choice we made to spend these four years of high school in a nurturing, Jewish environment. All three of our sons felt welcomed and fully engaged from the minute they stepped on campus, in ways that they had not experienced in our local public schools. It is, no doubt, a real financial sacrifice for us, especially with one now in college, but we feel it has been the right choice for all of our children. Yes, the school is small, but they feel part of a true community with a core Jewish identity, and the opportunities their SDJA experience opens up to them make it all worth it.
H.G. – SDJA Parent of three SDJA students
I’ve been going here since kindergarten and have always found an incredibly supportive community of peers and teachers. I’ve created incredible memories on the soccer field, in the yearbook class, and during powderpuff festivities (to name a few). I am pretty grateful to have a lot of opportunities here that I likely wouldn’t have had elsewhere and have also enjoyed the ability to develop close relationships with teachers, who are passionate and eager to advance your learning.
SDJA has always offered plenty of opportunities for academic and extracurricular involvement and has also accommodated and adapted for continued exploration and growth as it became necessary. Beyond the content-based material that I’ve learned in class, SDJA has encouraged me to develop critical thinking skills, an ability to interact and cooperate with others, and a set of moral and ethical values. Ultimately, I believe my education at SDJA has prepared me for success in all facets of life.
D.G. – SDJA Alumni