Mission & History
As a Jewish day school, we strive to ensure an academically rich environment which honors the whole child. Portland Jewish Academy nurtures and inspires Jewish engagement, kavod/respect, and responsibility for the world in which we live.
לימוד Limmud – Study
“Delve into it and continue to delve into it, for everything is in it.” (Pirkei Avot 5:26)
PJA believes in education for the whole child and supports multiple approaches to learning. Love of life, Judaism, and learning are integrated into all aspects of our school community.
כבוד Kavod – Respect
“Who is worthy of honor? One who honors all of creation.” (Avot 4:01)
As a community we learn to treat ourselves, others and the world with dignity and respect.
אחריות Akhrayut – Responsibility
“The day is short, the work is great. You are not expected to finish the work, but you are not free to desist.” (Pirkei Avot 2:20-21)
At PJA, we are guided and inspired to take responsibility for the world in which we live. Through acts of Chesed - kindness, and Tikkun Olam - repairing the world, we see ourselves as agents of change who can achieve social justice and pursue peace.
קהילה Kehillah – Community
“Bless all of us as one in Your light.” (Amidah prayer)
Jewish learning and engagement enhances our participation in a variety of communities, and encourages a sense of belonging and connectedness.
הודיה Hodayah – Appreciation
“We gratefully thank you, God, for You have returned our souls within us with compassion.”
(Modeh Ani prayer)
Our PJA community nurtures a sense of appreciation and gratitude for the world around us, inspired by Jewish thought and learning.
זהות Zehut – Identity
“Beloved is the person created in God’s image.” (Avot 3:14)
Our middot serve as a foundation to form and build identity, both as a school and as individuals. We seize the opportunity to explore who we are, what we stand for and what we believe.
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. A community survey held in the late 1980s explored the need for a Jewish Day School in Portland. Based on an overwhelmingly positive response, a wing was added to the MJCC to house the school.
The merger of Hillel Academy and The JEA, and the expansion of the MJCC 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 80. 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, an indoor Sportsplex, a sport court, gymnasium, indoor rock wall, outdoor playing fields, and a kosher cafe.
Today, PJA programs serve approximately 600 students. We provide a highly-regarded infant/toddler program, an innovative preschool, and progressive elementary school and middle school programs. PJA also runs an after-school enrichment program on our campus and at three Portland public schools.
PJA’s evolution to the cultural and educational institution it is today has been an inspiring process for everyone involved: students, teachers, families and staff. We plan to continue to grow and serve our community in years to come!