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  • Writer's pictureTziporah Altman-Shafer

Planting Seeds

One summer I spent hours and hours planting a vegetable garden in my backyard. As anyone who has even done the same will tell you, it was hard work. There was a lot of weeding and watering before I saw any results. But before the end of the summer, there were vegetables! It was an amazing experience for me; I worked hard and saw tangible results.

My experience in the garden was very different than my experiences as a teacher. As a teacher we plant seeds, but it can take many, many years before we see them sprout and eventually produce fruit. Every once in awhile, though, a teacher has the pleasure of seeing that seed develop. Here is one such story.

There was a student in my Jewish Studies class for 6th and 7th grade at Milwaukee Jewish Day School. He was a great kid and I enjoyed teaching him. When we was a freshman and sophomore in high school I would see him occasionally and he would say, “I wish I had paid attention in Jewish studies class. It would be great if I remembered anything.” I told him I was sure he had retained more than he believed. During his junior year of high school he went on a study program in Israel. When his mom picked him up from the airport, he told her that the Jewish studies part of the program was all review of what he had learned in 6th and 7th grade at MJDS! His mom shared the story with me and I kvelled . . . the seed had sprouted!

One does not know the full impact of a day school education until long after graduation. The benefits are far more than just information learned. As Barbara Sheklin Davis said in a recent article, “It is clear that the day school, in addition to teaching Hebrew and customs and Bible, gives its students something else: a very positive sense of themselves as Jews. Rather than feeling different, isolated and strange, they feel proud, special and good about their Jewish identity. Their Jewish heritage matters to them; it is part of who they are and what they are.”

Why choose a Jewish day school? To plant seeds of Jewish learning, living, and tradition that will grow throughout your child’s lifetime.


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