History

Going strong since 1981


Milwaukee Jewish Day School was founded by visionary community members who understood the value of a school that welcomes children from all Jewish denominations and every economic background. Together, they planted the idea of growing a school where academic excellence and Jewish values prepare children for a lifetime of success, leadership and engagement with the world.


MJDS Timeline

1980

Rabbi Francis Barry Silberg formulates a plan for creating Milwaukee’s first pluralistic, community day school. Together, Rabbi Silberg, Rabbi Herbert Panitch at Congregation Beth Israel, Rabbi Ronald Shapiro of Congregation Shalom, benefactor Phil Rubenstein, Doris Shneidman, Ph.D., and 10 visionary families lay the foundation for MJDS’ first class.


1981

First 11 students gather in a provisional classroom at Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun. Founding Director Doris Shneidman and Teachers Merzy Eisenberg and Kathy Wolkenstein begin MJDS’ commitment to hiring superior faculty and staff.

1982

Parents and staff establish policies, recruit new families and raise funds for scholarships. These founding families establish the forerunner of the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO).


1983

MJDS receives first allocation from Milwaukee Jewish Federation. This begins the on-going partnership between MJDS, its families and Milwaukee’s Jewish community.

1985

1986

PTO starts Career Day. MJDS Endowment is created.

1987

On Jan. 28, 1987, staff, parents, community leaders and students parade with a Torah to the newly renovated Max and Mary Kohl Education Building. Excited students stream into the building to explore their new school, not fully aware of the dreams, commitment and hard work that had made this moment possible.

1990

First eighth grade graduation ceremony at Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun.

1992

Benefactor Phil Rubenstein underwrites construction of the Rubenstein Wing, which houses eight classrooms.

1994

First staff trip to Israel is during the summer of 1994.

1997

Rabbi Phillip Nadel joins the staff.

1999

Endowment funds exceed $1 million. Kindergarten is endowed by benefactor Eileen Perlson.

2000

Annual budget grows to more than $3 million, transitioning MJDS from a pioneer start-up to an established institution. MJDS Chai Celebration held for the school’s 18-year anniversary. Larry & Jane Gellman pledged $1 million to the endowment. Founding Director Doris Shneidman retires. New directors Nancy Gorens-Edelman, Rabbi Philip Nadel and Marge Meyers begin planning for the next chapter of the school’s history. MJDS’ first annual Michael Kovnar Memorial Mitzvah Day sends all middle school students into the community to spend the day volunteering at area charities. Second staff trip to Israel takes place.


2003

First child of an MJDS graduate enrolls in kindergarten.

2005

School building undergoes a major renovation thanks to funds raised by Milwaukee Jewish Federation’s Community Capital Campaign. Endowment funds grow to $3 million.


2006

School year opens with a new beit midrash, classrooms, Miriam Peck Gymnasium, office area, art wing, technology labs and kitchen in place. Judy Miller starts as head of school.

2007

MJDS earns accreditation from the prestigious Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS). Endowment exceeds $4 million.


2008

Volunteers and staff host 25th anniversary celebration. First eighth grade class trip to Israel made possible thanks to a generous gift from an anonymous donor.


2009

MJDS creates a non-profit, Voice of the Children, which is overseen by the seventh grade class. This educational and charitable organization raises money for and awareness of child welfare issues around the world. Using a multi-dimensional, experiential way of learning, our seventh grade classes research child welfare issues, create videos on various charities and raise funds to make a difference.


2010

Brian King becomes head of school.

2012

Rabbi Moishe Steigmann, class of 1990, is hired as director of Jewish life and learning and Rav Beit Hasefer (School Rabbi). First reunion for the first 15 graduating classes is held Thanksgiving weekend. Building Our Future Tuition Grant Program is funded by an anonymous local donor to make an MJDS education more accessible and affordable to current and new families.