My MJDS Story: Moshe and Debra Katz
Dear MJDS Friends,
She's 24 and he's 22...hard to believe, even harder to believe that their journey at MJDS started 19 and 17 years ago and ours a year before that. It all began with Debra and I being enamored by a young Rabbi who was singing and teaching a group of children seated on the floor of the community Shaliach's home. Debra commented: "I want to be at whatever synagogue he's at."I shared that he isn't at a synagogue but rather the Judaic Director at MJDS and his name is Rabbi Phil Nadel. That was the beginning of what has become a loving two-family relationship spanning three generations! It was also the first step in our love affair with our MJDS.
Our daughter Cydny, now works at both of our family businesses, managing at one and a part of the accounting team at the other. Our son Gabe is a senior at Marymount Manhattan majoring in dance with a minor in fine arts. He spent part of his summer in Israel. Cydny and I trekked to Base Camp Everest, and she hopes to take a Birthright trip in Spring or Summer of '18.
Debra was a member of the MJDS board after a long stint in the school PTO and was even a registered/licensed 'lunch lady'. I've been teaching for the past 18 years, chaperoned the past 10 years of the Israel trip and was even an interim Judaic Studies Director for two years. We've bought and sold countless boxes of Fruits and Nuts and have sang, cried, laughed at many Shabbat sings, graduations, school plays and science and folk fairs. We have loved the teachers and staff and have been strong financial supporters.
What are our take-aways? Simple:
1. Our kids lived a naturalized Jewish life. It was just a part of their day-to-day existence, not the extracurricular activity but a part and parcel of who they have become.
2. Our kids got to be kids longer. They were coddled by loving staff and supported by families that cared for them as if they were their own kids. MJDS was the perfect place for them to be when 9/11 happened, with a staff that literally cuddled those that needed it. My kids were informed of my father's death, since we were in NY when we were notified, by the staff and a family friend at MJDSbecause we trusted the teachers to do so with love and empathy. All this and so much more led them to be extremely well prepared for their high school and college years beyond MJDS.
3. Their relationship with Israel is close. They see Israel not as a strange place to travel to but a place to possibly even call 'home'. Hebrew isn't a foreign language but a second language they can sometimes even speak!
4. They have become the very 'menschen' we were told they would be.
5. This one is hard to define but one that many of us parent alums know-our kids talk to adults face-to-face and have been doing so for a long time. They have a poise that exudes confidence and stature; a pride in themselves and a knowledge of their place in the communities in which they live.
We have loved MJDS for 19 years and will for many more! Mazel tov on 36 years of excellence in education! L'chaim to the next 36!
Moshe and Debra Katz
In celebration of the 36th anniversary of MJDS, we are excited to present MJDS Stories, a series of narratives told in first person by different voices of our MJDS community. Parents, teachers, alumni, alumni-parents, students and friends share how MJDS has made an impact on their children, their Jewish identity and their lives. MJDS Stories deepens the meaning of our mission and amplifies the excitement of our 36 milestone.