Maayan Torah Day School opens in Lake Oswego
Maayan Torah Day School, which opened in 2011 and was formerly located in a synagogue in southwest Portland, has found a new home in Lake Oswego.
Mayor Kent Studebaker, School Board member and state Sen. Rob Wagner and state Rep. Andrea Salinas joined students, parents, teachers and other community members to celebrate this week on the first day of school in the new home, which is located at 2 Touchstone Drive in a building that once housed the private Touchstone Academy.
Rabbi Ken Brodkin, who serves as dean of the Maayan Torah Day School, says the new location is perfect for their needs.
"We started with 10 kids, and as we continued to grow, we outgrew the synagogue," says Brodkin. "We now have 99 students. The space is perfect for us. It's not too big or small, and very appropriate for our needs."
Brodkin says that Maayan Torah Day School was fortunate to be able to secure the location, thanks in large part to a partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland.
"It can be a challenge to find real estate in the area, especially that would work for us. When this space came on the market, we heard about it right away," he says. "Everything really came together."
Rabbi Yerachmiel Kalter, the Judaics principal and director of development for Maayan, says that while the synagogue in Southwest Portland was a great place to start, it no longer met the school's needs.
"Having our own place to call home means a lot to our teachers and students. Our old location had very limited outdoor space, and shared space with another program at night and on the weekends," he says. "Having amazing outdoor spaces where kids have proper playground equipment, a basketball court and a small soccer field means a lot."
Kalter says the commute for most parents will only be about three to five minutes longer on average, making the Touchstone location an easy transition.
Principal Aviel Brodkin told the children and parents gathered at the school's grand opening that "people have put their hearts, their tears and many sleepless nights into this school. It matters that this school is here, and that we are here to instill these values onto our children."
The school's name, "Maayan," is the Hebrew term for a "spring of water," and Aviel Brodkin told the crowd that "this school has been such a wellspring in our community."
Kalter says that attending a Torah school benefits Jewish children in their faith and their education.
"A recent Pew study cited that Jewish children who attend a Torah Day School remain strong to their Jewish heritage and beliefs on a level nowhere close to those who don't," he says. "The strong love of Judaism that we impart within our students is clear. Last year in an anonymous survey, 100 percent of our students felt great about being Jewish."
In addition to a secular education including math, English, social studies and science, students at Maayan Torah Day School also learn Judaic studies in classes designed to help them develop the skills to read the Torah and absorb its lessons.
The goal, school officials say, is to "imbue every child with a lifelong love of Torah. The relationships and Jewish experiences that we cultivate inspire children with inner strength, resilience and a lifelong sense of purpose."
Kalter says he is passionate about teaching because his students make coming to work every day a pleasure.
"The best part of my job is being involved in the magic that happens in school. Kids come in thirsting for knowledge and they absorb so much," he says. "Seeing social interactions develop, skills honed and knowledge acquired — it's really special."
The first day of school was special for teachers and students alike.
"I enjoyed the excitement that surrounded the entire first day," says Kalter. "Seeing the kid's eyes pop when they were able to play on the fantastic outdoor space was nice."
Kalter says the Lake Oswego community has been very welcoming to the school. "Since we've moved in, there have been so many friendly locals stopping by to welcome us," he says. "Having Mayor Studebaker and the many state officials attend was impressive and a heartwarming welcome to the community."
For more information on Maayan Torah Day School, visit maayanpdx.org.
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