Advocates, Innovators and Leaders

January 2, 2018


high-school-science-classFor 38 years, San Diego Jewish Academy has maintained a legacy of nurturing Jewish values and Jewish life in generations of students, while preparing them to be advocates, innovators and leaders in their communities to affect change all over the world. Each and every year, we find new and innovative ways to improve our programming, our campus and the overall SDJA experience to ensure that our children are receiving the best education possible.

As we approach 2018, we’d like to share all that is new and exciting at the Academy.

After months-long research about current best practices in preschool outdoor space, we are nearing completion of our state-of-the-art outdoor play and learning environment.  With natural elements replicating our natural San Diego environment, our outdoor play and learning environment will soon provide sand, mountain climbing, water play, tricycle traffic lanes on the outskirts, as well as areas for preschoolers to explore on their own. Our Shabbat programming will now be on a developmentally appropriate performance stage and there will soon be unique play elements that will challenge and engage our children.

In the SDJA lower school, our STEAM program has initiated “Mission Innovation.” This annual regional competition, for third through sixth graders, enables students from many schools to gather, compete, have fun and appreciate how much our world revolves around creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial thinking. Our competitions move from school to school, all under the leadership of Irene Lerner, our hardworking STEAM director.

Our Judaic studies program in the upper school has been redesigned to enable students to design their own pathways through Jewish life and learning. Leading this initiative is our “CJO,” (Chief Jewish Officer,) Rabbi Phil Graubart, who in addition to teaching students, teachers and parents, also leads a drop-in class of Jewish learning on Friday mornings, open to the entire community. To learn more about this class, or to sign up, please call: (858) 704-3700.

We have launched a new Hebrew program for our students – iHebrew by  Ulpan-Or from Israel. This program is innovative, interactive and research-based and was developed using 21st-century technology from Israel. This program is successfully used in many Jewish day schools around the world. iHebrew utilizes a different approach to teach Hebrew in that it is an experiential conversational program that builds a child’s skills for a two-way communication in Hebrew. We are truly excited about working with Ulpan-Or to offer our students this engaging and powerful new Hebrew learning experience.

Also this year, we’ve welcomed Executive Chef Giselle Wellman to the SDJA family. Chef Wellman brings her passion for culinary education and food sustainability to SDJA, incorporating fresh produce from our campus garden, working with and supporting local farmers and educating our students on the importance of nutrition and sustainability. Her background includes working with top chefs such as Jean Georges, Thomas Keller and Mario Batali. She also became the youngest female executive chef in Los Angeles at the age of 26, and was a participant on Bravo’s hit television show “Top Chef” in 2015.

Finally, there could be no more significant culmination to a student’s education at the academy than their trip to Poland and Israel. Each year, our high school seniors embark on a month-long trip that shapes their understanding of what it means to be an informed learner, listener and leader, and thrusts them into their unique role as inheritors and designers of the Jewish future. Generations of students have come back from this trip inspired and with a life-changing perspective about their Jewish identity. Our seniors will be holding a play at the annual Alexander Viterbi Arts Festival held in Shaar Hanegev on April 25th – 26th as a fundraiser to ensure that each and every student is afforded the opportunity to go on this important trip.

At the Academy, we emphasize the importance of and our commitment to helping others. Students learn that each individual working to do something good can lead to a community collectively making a difference in the world in which we live. In addition to our senior trip fundraiser, our community has also been raising money to support those affected by the natural disasters these past few months. We would like to thank everyone who supported this incredible effort. Together, we can repair the world one small step at a time. Α

To learn more about San Diego Jewish Academy education please visit or call (858) 704-3717.


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