Staying connected to Jewish and school roots

January 18, 2020

In an effort to maintain and strengthen the alumni’s bonds beyond their student experiences, the alumni department, led by Director of Alumni Relations Wendi Kaplan, hosts numerous alumni events locally and regionally.

“Whether it is the Schmooze-a-Palooza, which is the joint reunion where those in milestone classes come back to the school to celebrate their reunion year together, or happy hours in various cities throughout the country, we work to connect our JDS alumni with one another and always to the school,” Kaplan said.

The alumni network does not stop their efforts to connect alumni. They also work with alumni to enroll their children at JDS through a program called Hagshama, translating to “fulfillment” in Hebrew.

Father and alumnus Aaron Brickman (‘91) is a member of Hagshama and has three children enrolled at JDS: sophomore Aviva, eighth-grader Dalya and fifth-grader Micah.

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Aaron grew up attending synagogue at Har Shalom Congregation and believes his religious education at JDS reinforced, expanded upon and explained his Jewish practices at home and at his synagogue. Although he did not always appreciate attending daily services at JDS, in retrospect, Aaron believes it enabled him to develop an understanding of Judaism and gave him the confidence to participate in services to eventually fit into the Jewish community.

Although Aaron’s experience did not directly influence him to send his children to JDS, he believed that when selecting a school for his children, Jewish education and Hebrew literacy were imperative to pass on to the next generation.

“My wife and I feel that Jewish education is really important, and the Jewish education that JDS provides is important to ensure there is critical Jewish literacy, that my children can understand the fundamentals and ultimately make their own decisions to determine how active they want to be as Jewish adults,” Aaron said.

As a parent of a second-generation JDS family, Aaron sees the parallels between his own JDS experience and his children’s. He hopes that JDS will provide his children the tools to explore Judaism confidently.

“In terms of being a second generation at the school, it is really cool to see my own kids taking the classes, and in a couple of cases, being able to share the same teacher I had, not for Jewish education, but having the continuity contributes to a sense of place for our kids as part of the Jewish community and as part of the JDS community, and I like that,” Aaron said.

The Lion’s Tale was unable to find individuals who stopped observing Judaism after graduating from JDS. If you know of anyone who would fall into this category, please reach out to the Lion’s Tale at [email protected] for a followup story.

This story was featured in the Volume 37, Issue 4 print edition of The Lion’s Tale, published on January 16, 2020.

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