Portland Jewish Academy is a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland and is proud of our partnership with them in strengthening our local Jewish community as well as the global community.











Amy Katz

The first day I ever worked at PJA was in 2009 and it was as a substitute teacher. I was subbing for the middle school Hebrew teacher, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I was nervous. Although I was a veteran teacher with strong Hebrew skills I hadn’t stood in front of a group of students that age and spoken to them in Hebrew for many years. As anyone who has ever spent time in a school knows, middle school students are not known for being easy or gentle on subs! I finished muddling through my first lesson with seventh graders, some who used my lesson to catch up on homework from other classes, others who took the opportunity to socialize with their friends, and a few who tried paying attention to my shaky words, and with a great deal of relief dismissed them to their next class. “Thank you,” a few students called out as they left the room. 

Throughout the next several days as I continued to sub, I continued to struggle (although I got a lot better!) but what impressed this veteran teacher the most, was the fact that after every single class that I taught, several students always made a point to thank me before they left the room. In my previous 12 years of teaching experience, I don’t believe I’d ever been thanked by a student for teaching them. Needless to say I was charmed and impressed, so much so that I was determined that as soon as a permanent job opened up at PJA, I would do all I could to get that job. It was the gratitude, the hodaya of the students that convinced me that I wanted to be a permanent part of this community.

Jumping forward to Monday April 12, 2021 the day that the majority of our K-8 students returned to in-person school and my heart was so full of gratitude, of hodaya for this community I thought it would burst. But I was not the only one who felt that way. Students came bounding out of cars full of excitement and thanked me for checking them in on the Remini app. They then thanked Nick, standing beside me for squirting their hands with hand sanitizer. Throughout the day, not a few, not several, and not even most, but  all of the middle school students thanked a teacher for teaching them. And it wasn’t only students. All day long I heard teachers thank other teachers, administrators thank teachers, Instructional assistants thank administrators, and everyone thank the crew who is constantly cleaning to help ensure our continued safety.

Now that we are two weeks into our whole K-8 being back I am proud and grateful to say that this sense of gratitude has not let up. As you know gratitude/hodaya is one of our core values/middot at PJA. If you visit our website you will see these words listed next to the word Gratitude/Hodaya: Our PJA community nurtures a sense of appreciation and gratitude for the world around us, inspired by Jewish thought and learning.

While PJA has always been wonderful at nourishing and cultivating that sense of gratitude in our school community, the joy that we feel at all being back in our building right now is palpable and one none of us take for granted. This joy has led to a sense of gratitude which spills forth from all of us every day that we are able to be face to face with one another. 

Spotlight on ...

Refugee Restart Kits

It is with a great deal of excitement and immense gratitude that we report that the PJA community provided 11 restart kits containing a total of close to 100 items and $300 in gift cards to the Refugee Care Collective as part of their recent drive.

Read More about Refugee Restart Kits