My husband and I and our two children have attended 13 different Jewish day schools in five different states. Currently my daughter teaches high school at a day school (adding two new schools and one new state to our listing). Clearly we are committed to the day school world.

What I learned early in my travels and experiences with day schools was that they always offered us a bit of “home” and a comfortable and welcoming place in a new environment. It has been more to us than being new in a community; it has been an extended community.

When we moved from Florida to Massachusetts, my daughter was 10.  Her fourth grade Hebrew teacher from Florida wrote her letters (in Hebrew) for months to help in her transition to her new location.

My children, my husband and I all have friends that we have gathered from our time in day school.  We see these people all over the country and in Israel on various occasions. 

For the past 22 years we have lived in the small town of Sharon, which has offered us a warm feeling of belonging.  When you grow up in a small town and live your whole life there, you have close friends and a built-in community.

When you are part of the day school life, this close community feeling extends and travels with you. 

Although my children were too old to ever have attended Striar Hebrew Academy of Sharon (SHAS), we have been an active part of the SHAS family since we first moved to Sharon.  I have served on the Scholarship Committee, the Finance Committee, the Board of Trustees and I am now a member of the Board of Directors.  My daughter did her Maimonides senior service in the SHAS kindergarten.  Many of my close friends’ children have graduated from SHAS. 

I have watched through the years as the school has maintained its place as a center of community life in Jewish Sharon.  The children who graduate retain close friendships with their SHAS friends — some even married each other!  When they go on to other schools, this closeness brings them back together for impromptu reunions and gatherings. I have listened as SHAS graduates talk lovingly and proudly of their time at SHAS, and the extra confidence, skills and inner strength they gained here.

If you were to ask what makes SHAS special, it is that piece of heart that each student takes with them: The closeness, warmth, mutual respect and appreciation they acquire through their rich experiences and from the exceptional educators at SHAS.

by Nina Weinstock 

This post is the latest in a series on “A Gift That Lasts a Lifetime” — eight days of posts about Day School for Chanukah 2010. Read them all.