The ongoing COVID19 pandemic means big changes for local Jewish day schools, and The Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee’s Human Services Relief Matching Fund is there to help. Resources from the fund are providing Akiva School and Jewish Middle School adapt to create safer, healthier learning environments for their students. Eric Stillman, CEO of The Jewish Federation, says, “Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee earned a matching gift from the Jewish Federations of North America’s Human Service Relief Matching Fund specifically to assist local Jewish organizations faced with extra costs because of the pandemic. When Akiva School and Jewish Middle School learned of the opportunity to apply for funding through our Federation, both schools were able to identify specifically those additional expenses which they are facing this academic year as a result of COVID. We are proud to partner with Akiva and JMS to help the schools provide a safe and meaningful learning environment for their students.”
Akiva School received approximately $34,000 from the fund to purchase tents that allows for outdoor learning. Even with the changing seasons, classes are utilizing the tents and hope to continue. The grant also helped provide additional staffing and technological support for continuing virtual learning. Rabba Daniella Pressner, Head of School at Akiva, says she is grateful for The Federation’s support. “The Federation has taken such a leadership role in ensuring that the Akiva community could continue its learning. The fund has helped us continue to maintain our zoom opportunities for students and faculty members who are out quarantining and the fund has helped us continue to maintain a high level of commitment to attending to every child's needs. Every day, I wake up and feel so grateful for the work of the Federation to help Akiva thrive.”
For the past few years, Jewish Middle School has utilized space on Akiva’s campus. However, in order to provide for more social distancing, it became necessary for JMS to relocate. Classes are now being held at Sherith Israel, creating a need for increased security. Didi Biesman is President of the Board of JMS. She says the hefty increase in security cost is significant because the school is now carrying it alone, rather than sharing it with Akiva. “We are so appreciative of The Federation’s and Eric Stillman’s support. As the school grows and matures, it means so much.” The $14,000 grant means there is now a full-time security guard on the premises at all times during school hours.