PJA Through The Years
Portland Jewish Academy has a long and proud history. PJA was formed in 1986 when two prominent Portland Jewish schools merged. The school combined Hillel Academy, founded in 1961, with The Jewish Education Association, which had operated an afternoon Hebrew school program since 1934.
An April 1987 Portland Jewish Review article by Marsha Spellman explored a survey, which asked whether there would be support for a reorganized Jewish Day School. “Would prospective parents be interested in sending their children to a Jewish day school that offered a stronger academic curriculum and had its own building on the property of the Jewish Community Center? Would they want a school that was open to all branches of Judaism?,” The survey asked.
The answer was a resounding yes.
Based on that survey and a community-wide fundraising effort, a wing was added to the Mittleman Jewish Community Center. The merger and expansion created a community-wide Jewish educational organization that became a center of Jewish learning open to the community and all branches of Judaism. The same Jewish Review article noted: “With an improved curriculum, a beautiful modern educational facility and a new community spirit, the rebirth of spring…also signals a rebirth of Jewish education in Portland.”
After the move, PJA’s day school continued to grow. The middle school opened in the fall of 1995 with six students and has since grown to around 60. To accommodate growing day school enrollment, the Miriam Abrams wing was added, followed by modular classrooms.
Our school shares exceptional facilities with the Mittleman Jewish Community Center, including two swimming pools, indoor Sportsplex, a sport court, gymnasium, indoor rock wall, outdoor playing fields, and even a kosher cafe.
Today, PJA programs serve approximately 600 students. We provide childcare for working parents, an innovative preschool, an excellent elementary school and middle school program. PJA also runs an after-school enrichment program at our campus and three nearby public schools.
PJA’s evolution to the cultural and educational institution it is today has been an inspiring process for everyone involved: students, teachers, parents and staff. We hope to continue to grow and serve our community in years to come!