Pictured l. to r. Jessica Roth, Pam Abromovitz, Eliza Griffin
The majority of the 900 Jewish Day Schools across the United States are in major cities with significant numbers of Jews; in places like New York, New Jersey, and Los Angeles. Mid-size communities pride themselves in providing their children with Jewish education, though that education is generally confined to the elementary years. According to a census of Jewish Day Schools in the United States by the Avi Chai Foundation, of Community Day School students outside of the New York Metropolitan area, 76% are Kindergarten through 8th graders, while only 24% comprise high school students. A major contributing factor to this is that in many communities, there is simply no Jewish High School for students to attend. Reasonably, a Jewish community the size of Nashville should fall into this category. In spite of this trend, the Nashville Jewish community prides itself in offering a strong and authentic Jewish education experience all the way from Kindergarten through high school.
Attendees celebrate Jewish education in Nashville at the community-wide Stronger Together dinner.
Rabbi Saul Strosberg, founder of both the Jewish Middle School and Kehilla High School, relates that he, “never imagined we would have a K through 12 school option in this community. But the community understands that what Jewish schools provide truly sets up students for success in life.” Rabbi Strosberg adds that, “There is a certain amount of pride that our Jewish Community has in providing the resources to educate children Jewishly.” And that pride was certainly on display when the community turned out to celebrate the city’s Jewish schools at the Stronger Together Community Dinner on December 1st.
Parents, faculty, alumni, and community supporters enjoyed cocktails and music, a gourmet dinner, and a video showcasing the Stronger Together theme within Akiva, the Jewish Middle School, and Kehilla High School. Rabbi Laurie Rice, of hosting-synagogue Congregation Micah, praised the community’s, “tenacity, heart, and determination to ensure we can serve our Jewish students and fortify their identity to be the next generation of community leaders and builders.” Rabbi Laurie added that, “Hosting this dinner was truly an honor. It says a great deal about the commitment of our Nashville Jewish Community to education.”
Pictured l. to r. Rabbi Daniel and Eliezah Hoffman, Elizabeth Cambridge, Jenny Lewis
While the Nashville Jewish community may be considered small, the schools are anything but. Akiva, JMS, and Kehilla are a dynamic force in strengthening Jewish identity and fostering Jewish values in the city, and they are the most critical factor in the continuity of the Jewish community. JMS Co-Head of School Rabbi Daniel Hoffman said it best, “Any time we want to establish a community, and keep that community going, education is key. And when we work on bringing our three institutions together, then the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts and we are truly stronger together.”