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.










Partners in Safety

By Steve Albert

One of the biggest shifts that has taken place at Jewish schools and organizations during the pandemic is the focus of conversations around campus safety. Since the start of the pandemic, discussions have shifted somewhat away from security matters to those connected to personal health and mitigating transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It shouldn’t surprise you to know that, at PJA, we’ve been discussing both health protocols and enhanced security.

Early in the pandemic, PJA convened a Medical Advisory Team, comprised of physicians, nurses, public health experts and mental health professionals from the PJA and wider communities. This group has provided advice over the last two years that has supplemented recommendations and requirements that have come from the CDC and Oregon Health Authority (OHA), as we’ve taken steps to ensure our community’s health. By now, everyone is familiar with most of these steps – requiring vaccinations of all eligible students and employees, maximizing the intake of fresh air into classrooms, maintaining physical distance, defining fixed cohorts of children, enhancing sanitation protocols, installing air purifiers in classrooms, wearing masks, monitoring symptoms of individuals, washing hands, etc.

These steps have been extremely effective at ensuring the health of our community. While there have been some individuals who have contracted COVID-19, and there have been a few classroom closures, these have been relatively rare, and we’ve avoided any major outbreaks. The success of these measures comes from the compliance of teachers, students, and families in following the guidelines and prioritizing the health and safety of our community, and I’m grateful that we’ve worked together to achieve a common goal.

At the same time that we are battling a pandemic, our nation continues to experience antisemitism and school violence, and we know that we must continue to enhance campus security. We are fortunate that the Schnitzer Family Campus has received funding from the federal government for security enhancements on an annual basis since 2015, through the Urban Area Security Initiative – National Security Grant Program (UASI-NSGP). We have just completed the implementation of our 2019 grant, which enabled us to undertake extensive updates to and expansion of our surveillance camera system on the campus, as well as to install ID scanners at both PJA and the MJCC. Prior grants have been used to install window security film, bollards, access control systems, enhanced fencing, and more.

At the present time, we are in the midst of developing and implementing a new Campus Emergency Action Plan. Funded by our 2020 UASI-NSGP grant, and developed by WPS Disaster Management Solutions, the new plan replaces an existing plan that was developed several years ago and needed updates and revisions. The new, comprehensive plan outlines detailed procedures to follow in the event of a fire, evacuation, earthquake, bomb threat, lock-down, lock-out, medical emergency, or other disaster. Included in the project is on-line training for all employees as well as instructor-led training and table-top exercises for appropriate personnel. The plan will be implemented early in 2022.

We were also recently awarded a 2021 UASI-NSGP grant which will fund updates to and expansion of our public address system, additional parking lot lighting, and new gates and fencing in targeted areas. We expect these projects to begin in mid-2022.

Whether we are implementing health guidelines or security systems, our goal is always to strike a balance between (1) being a welcoming community that allows the interaction and engagement needed for a strong community of learners and (2) ensuring that everyone on our campus will stay healthy and safe. Your partnership in our efforts is greatly appreciated!

Spotlight on ...

Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day

PJA had a fantastic and fun-filled celebration of Israel’s Independence Day yesterday. Knowing our 8th grade students were celebrating the holiday in Jerusalem made the holiday even more special! 

Read More about Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day