In this Newsletter:


  • PJA Alumni Profile: Ryan Bernstein

  • Alumni and their Kindergartners at PJA

  • Author Meet & Greet

  • Spotlight on Rosh Hashana

  • Alumni Summer Gathering with Cool Tunes

  • Alumni Questionnaire

Upcoming PJA Events:


  • Alumni + Friends Event: Author Meet & Greet
    Monday, October 15

  • Open House
    Wednesday, November 14

  • PJA Annual Auction
    Sunday, December 9

Alumni Profile: Ryan Bernstein
PJA Class of 2015
Author of the book, OCD to Me: An Anthology of Anxieties

Can you share with us how your PJA education shaped you into the person you are today? Any teachers or other faculty who impacted you greatly?
My five years at PJA were some of my most important. The artwork that details the six elements (middot - core values) of PJA's mission is not just there to be pretty. PJA really instilled in me a strong love of learning, taught me how to be respectful, encouraged responsibility, and I developed a sense of community and appreciation for the world around me. I was certainly able to begin to shape my identity at PJA. Part of that identity is giving back and I hope I accomplish that with my book, OCD to Me: An Anthology of Anxieties. It is difficult to single out specific teachers because they all played an important role in my education both in and out of the classroom. If I had to name a few, Ms. Wygant and Mr. Blumberg were two who really understood me and encouraged me to be myself. I also must thank Merrill for always believing in my abilities and supporting me throughout my time there. 


Tell us about the experience of writing a book and your other advocacy work for educating people about OCD and anxiety. 
I really struggled with anxiety when I was younger. I didn't know why I felt the way I did. It was a difficult time for me, in middle school especially. Once I was properly diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) I wanted to help others and give back to the OCD community. I thought that creating an easy-to-understand book with stories from people who were suffering with OCD would be helpful not only for people with this disorder but also for people who did not know anything about OCD and anxiety. Too often OCD is mischaracterized as excessive handwashing or being organized and it is much more diverse than that. In fact, it can be debilitating for many people.

I have several goals and those are to educate and raise awareness, to end the negative stigma associated with OCD and to raise funds for the international OCD foundation (see for more information). All proceeds from my book's sales are donated to the IOCDF. Books are available on Amazon.
More information in video form about the book is provided at this link.


Tell us about your high school experience (classes, clubs, etc.).
Wilson High School has been great. I've been able to take a lot of different AP classes, especially in the sciences such as physics, biology, and chemistry. I've also continued my Spanish which I started learning when I was at PJA.


What are your post-high school plans and future goals?
My post-high school plans are to apply to college. My future goals are to study psychology, and other sciences.

Do you have any advice for current PJA students?
My advice for current PJA students is to enjoy your time there. PJA is such a wonderful, welcoming environment to grow and try new things. Don't be afraid to do that and also don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Ryan will be presenting at Annie Bloom's Books and Another Read Through

Alumni and their Kindergartners at PJA!


The 2018-19 Kindergarten class welcomes 22 students, five of whom are the children of PJA alumni. Read on to see why these parents have chosen PJA for their own children.  

"We chose PJA for Moses so that he has the opportunity to develop his own Jewish identity and make lifelong friends, like I was able to do. We're so excited to watch Moses grow in the PJA community. It's surreal walking down the same halls a couple decades later, but so fun to make new PJA memories (and relive some old)."  
- Arielle Shukla Goranson (class of 1999), mom to Moses.


Left to right: Ben Olds and Yael, Sarah Oller Scott and Emma, Ben O'Glasser and Ronan, Hannah Schafer and Eleanor, Arielle Shukla Goranson and Moses

"We chose to send our girls to PJA to instill a strong sense of Judaism as well as an education that is not just about the math, reading, writing and science but about values, gimilut hasidim/acts of kindness, and community. I love that I can tell my girls that I went to the same school as they do (sort of!). 
- Sarah Oller Scott (class of 1985), mom to Emma (K) and Maya (3rd)

"I have always said that my husband and I, despite coming from dramatically different places, grew up in the same type of loving, supportive community. He grew up on a kibbutz in the rural Arava desert and I grew up at PJA and the MJCC - my own version of a kibbutz. I knew every person in the building, from the janitors to the executive director, and that instilled a level of comfort and confidence in me that has stayed with me throughout my life. We both learned from a young age what it meant to be part of a community - supporting others, giving back, leading with love - and those core values are something that we strive to impart on our daughter, Eleanor. We are thrilled to have her at PJA and can't wait to see what type of community member she becomes as a result of her education. - Hannah Schafer (class of 1998), mom to Eleanor

We chose PJA for Ronan and our older son, Noam, because we wanted an excellent school and a warm, nurturing environment. We also wanted a school that would help our children develop foundational Jewish education and values. From my own experience, I know that PJA had those qualities when I graduated in 1993 and has only grown and strengthened those qualities in the years since.
- Ben O'Glasser (class of 1993), dad to Ronan (K) and Noam (2nd)

Author Meet & Greet

PJA Alumni and friends are invited to join us for a meet & greet with Author Brooke Barker (married to PJA alumnus, Boaz Frankel). The evening will begin at Portland Cider House, followed by an Author Reading at Powell's. This event is 21+

Monday, October 15
6:00 pm Meet & Greet with Author Brooke Barker
at the Portland Cider House
(3638 SE Hawthorne Blvd )

7:30 pm Author Reading with Brooke
at Powell's on Hawthorne
(3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd)

Click here to RSVP


Brooke Barker is a writer, illustrator and animal enthusiast living in Amsterdam. She's the creator of Sad Animal Facts and the co-creator of the It's Different Every Day calendar, and a former copywriter at Wieden+Kennedy.

Spotlight on Rosh Hashana


Our 5th graders learned about the tradition of blowing a shofar on Rosh Hashana. The students spent time in the Makerspace building individual shofarot (the plural of the Hebrew word shofar). The goal in the design process was to create an object that would allow the students to emulate the act of buzzing their own lips to create the call of the shofar. Each student was given a mouthpiece that would be big enough for their lips to easily fit into in order to create the sound, and then they built their shofarot around that mouthpiece.They learned the names of the shofar calls and "blasted" all of us out and into the Rosh Hashana holiday weekend!

Shana tova - Happy New Year to all of our alumni and their families!



Alumni Summer Gathering with Cool Tunes

PJA alumni, families and friends braved the heat on July 26th to enjoy a free kosher meal, cold beer and schmooze-time with friends. PJA hosted this special event outside on "The Green" adjacent to the PJA playground. It was held in conjunction with the MJCC's Outdoor Summer Concert Series. The alumni group gathered before the Moshav concert and stayed on to enjoy live tunes by the internationally acclaimed Israeli-rock group. It was wonderful to reconnect with PJA alumni from different eras. We are looking forward to our next alumni event on Monday, Oct. 15 (see details about our upcoming Meet & Greet with Brooke Barker). If you have an idea for an alumni event and/or would like to volunteer to help spearhead something, please contact Lisa Katon at


Alumni Questionnaire

We want to invite you to events, tell you about new initiatives, share PJA updates, etc. Please help us by filling out this very brief questionnaire. We will not share your contact information with any other organization.


Click here for Alumni 2014-2018


Click here for Alumni 1964-2013


Portland Jewish Academy is a beneficiary 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.

Portland Jewish Academy
6651 SW Capitol Hwy | Portland, OR 97219 | P 503.244.0126 | F 503.452.7001

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