Portland Jewish Academy was founded in 1961 on the premise that the community needed a Jewish community day school that would provide an excellent academic education built on Jewish values. Sixty years later, PJA continues to build on that foundational goal.
Serving families from all backgrounds, PJA provides an academically rich environment that supports each student’s social, emotional, and spiritual growth. We offer a values-based education where students are empowered to think for themselves and work for the world.
Mission & Middot
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.
Our Middot - (Core Values)
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!
Portland Jewish Academy is proud to be accredited by the Northwest Association of Independent Schools. The rigorous accreditation process involves reflecting on our school mission and program, ensuring the viability of our school, and planning, strategically, for the future. Every eight years, we undertake a comprehensive self study process. Over the course of a year or two, we reflect upon our strengths and priorities, identify opportunities for growth, and update our strategic plan. This process is collaborative and inclusive, and we solicit input from every constituency at our school.
Following the completion of the self study, a team of administrators and teachers visit our school. They provide a valuable outside perspective as they consider how we live our mission and how closely our program is aligned with the standards of NWAIS. Ultimately, these independent school professional complete a report that ensures ongoing school improvement and accountability.
As an NWAIS member school, we subscribe to the following Statement on Student and School Safety adopted by the National Association of Independent Schools:
Students have a right to learn without fear. Learning in a safe and healthy environment is a foundational requirement for a successful education. Yet in communities across the country, the fundamental promise to protect students has been fractured by gun violence. This must change.
As a national education association, NAIS empowers independent schools and the students they serve. The schools that belong to NAIS teach students to become informed and engaged citizens who contribute to their communities and to the larger society. As the nation considers how best to protect children, NAIS urges elected officials to take meaningful legislative and regulatory action now to support the safety and well-being of children. We also urge officials to listen to our students as they advocate for systemic change.
This is a problem that we can solve. The issues involved are complex, and many people have deeply held views on how to best address the challenge. But we must get started and refuse to let the complexities paralyze us. Only by working together can our nation’s leaders, our schools, and our students bring about the change that’s so vital to a secure future.
PJA may look small from the front, but once you're inside you see how vast our facilities are--over 80,000 square feet. There’s plenty of room for kids to grow during their years at PJA and explore everything we have to offer.
PJA has modern classrooms, playing fields, and three separate playgrounds.
Over the summer and fall of 2017, PJA transformed a number of spaces to better support the collaborative and project-based learning we do. The heart of our school is the Learning Commons, which combines our library with technology stations and soft-seating areas for students and faculty to gather and learn together. We have a music room, two art studios and a Maker Space with problem-solving tools that our students use, whether building wood structures or creating electronic and digital circuitry. Our Beit Medrash is a lovely spiritual gathering space and place of study, housing PJA’s Jewish learning collection. We also have a culinary classroom, where students learn cooking skills, using fresh vegetables from PJA’s garden.
PJA is proud of student accomplishments and we show it. We have project bulletin boards in the hallways, art hanging in many places, news bulletins and kudos posted throughout our building to show our entire community the great things our students are doing.
Portland Jewish Academy shares a building and campus with the Mittleman Jewish Community Center. As a result, PJA has access to spaces many schools may not have.
PJA Physical Education classes from preschool through the 8th grade often use the MJCC's well-appointed facilities including the gym, Sportsplex, and pool. In the gym the kids play basketball, floor hockey, tennis, and assorted games. In the Sportsplex, soccer and gymnastics are king. In the MJCC pool, middle school students can participate in a swimming exploratory.
Our school assemblies are held in the fully appointed MJCC ballroom, complete with stage, sound system, audio-visual capabilities and large viewing screens. Israeli Dance often happens in the ballroom so the children have room to spread out and have fun while dancing.
After school, PJA students can take advantage of all the MJCC has to offer. Whether it’s sports, art, dance, or swim, the MJCC has a wide variety of activities for the after school hours.
To visit the MJCC web site, click here.
Portland Jewish Academy admits students of any race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. Portland Jewish Academy does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national and ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, athletics or other school-administered programs.