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.











PJA graduate Ethan Berkson-Klaus (class of 2020) started as a freshman at Cleveland High School in the fall of 2020. We got word about some pretty creative and helpful ways that Ethan was staying busy during the quarantine, so we decided to catch up with Ethan to learn more. 

Q: Tell us about the virtual Minecraft summer camp you organized last summer for PJA kids. 
A: Most summers my brother and I did summer discovery camps at PJA. One of our favorite weeks was Minecraft camp. My brother was disappointed when they canceled this summer due to the pandemic. I talked to my parents and they helped me schedule a camp for my brother and his 4th grade buddies. It was a win-win situation, my brother and his friends got to play Minecraft together and their parents appreciated my role as their counselor. It also gave me an excuse for a little extra game time. 
Q: How did you come up with the idea of offering a Dungeons & Dragons group to PJA students? 
A: I’ve been playing Dungeons & Dragons with my PJA friends for a couple of years. When COVID started I taught my brother and some of his 4th grade buddies how to play. On Wednesdays, PJA has early dismissal. Some of the 4th grade parents reached out to see if I would play Dungeons & Dragons with the kids over Zoom while the parents worked. I get a kick out of how they come up with over-complicated solutions to easy problems. 

Sebastian is a regular participant in the D&D game. He says, “D&D has been so much fun. It’s a great way to socialize with friends outside of school. Ethan has been very patient with us on zoom/google meet. His patience has inspired me to be patient myself.”

Sebastian’s mom, Sandra, also told us about other PJA middle school students who provided similar camps or classes. “One of the things we love about PJA is the connection the younger kids have with the older kids. It has been challenging to maintain this connection during Covid. So when Ethan offered to host a D&D club, we were delighted! The older kids not only bring forward a sense of community, they also demonstrate leadership skills, compassion, and in some cases how to roll a natural 20.” 

Picture: Sebastian getting guidance from Ethan Berkson-Klaus at the virtual Dungeons & Dragons club.

Spotlight on ...


Our PJA Pre-k community is pretty special! In Kim Krikorian’s class what started out as an exploration of the lifecycle of a butterfly turned into a thoughtful conversation about kavod (respect), kehillah (community), and diversity.  

Read More about Butterflies