Laurie and Daniel Brumberg
“We want one of those.” That was Laurie and Daniel Brumberg’s reaction to the Sixth Graders who spoke at a JPDS-NC open house before the couple decided to enroll Gabriel (’16) in the school’s Pre-K.
“The kids were so poised and confident,” Laurie recalls, that she and Dan couldn’t help but be impressed. Plus, Dan says, the school would offer “a deeper view of [Gabriel’s] cultural and religious background than what we could provide at home.”
The Brumbergs emphasize that JPDS-NC teaches children to think and ask big questions, whether about God and religion or about science. “The ways these kids are taught from the earliest grades to test and question and experience and think, and rethink, is extraordinary. I see it in every single class,” Laurie says.
Both also say their volunteer activities have brought them closer to the school community, with Dan saying that he was happy he was able to bring his work world to the school. He’s done that by organizing speakers and leading discussion groups of parents.
Laurie, meanwhile, has chaired Birthday Books, Birthday Lunch and the Box Lunch program, Hanukkah and Purim sales, and last year’s Purim Ball. She also was involved in launching Chesed at JPDS-NC. While Chesed was created to ensure that no school family experiencing a crisis was lost in the cracks, its leaders soon realized that in reality many people already were reaching out to those who needed help. Chesed’s role, she says, became “to corral everybody and link all of this energy into a cohesive effort.”
For her, the most satisfying part of volunteering has been involving other parents to volunteer and engage in the school community.
Pamela Wexler and Kent Kahler
By their own admission, life hasn’t been the same for Pam and Kent since they found JPDS-NC. Prior to their sons Seth (’13) and Eli (’16) attending JPDS-NC, “We weren’t living life through a Jewish lens,” Pam notes. “JPDS-NC gave us that structure for thinking about things in a Jewish way.”
That meant joining Adas Israel, volunteering through the wider Jewish community, reading Jewish-focused books — and of course devoting time to JPDS-NC.
Pam has done that in myriad ways, including for birthday lunches, which gave her a chance to get to know many of the kids and their families. “I would go for birthday lunch, and then be at the school for something else, and some kid would see me, and they associated me with that pizza, and they would smile,” she recalls fondly. She knew which kids had what allergies, who liked vegetables and who didn’t. “I knew every kid, every family,” she says. “It made me feel incredibly connected to the school.”
That feeling of connection led her to chair the Purim Ball, work on the Ru’ach Campaign and lead art fundraisers. Pam points to the Ru’ach Campaign in particular as a great opportunity to learn how to fundraise.
Kent’s involvement with JPDS-NC was “derivative” of Pam’s — “I started volunteering to do things because of her involvement,” he says. Ultimately, he ended up coaching basketball for three years. “I love being around kids and I love coaching,” Kent says.
Their work at the school, each in their own way, made the school stronger.
Kimberly and Steven Aftergood
JPDS-NC is not just Lincoln’s school. “It’s our school as well,” says Steven. “Our best friends are parents and families at JPDS-NC. It is central to our daily lives.” Kim says, “It’s our No. 1 personal philanthropic commitment.”
“When I’m in, I’m all in,” Kim says. And she certainly has been “all in” — through her involvement in the Ru’ach Campaign and development committee, as a board member, and as part of the Generations program seeking to create an endowment for the school.
With a background in technology consulting and management, Kim decided the best way for her to understand how the school was run was to “follow the money,” which is why she volunteered for the development committee in her second year with the school. “If we were going to invest more, I wanted to see how the school was spending its money,” she says.
Steven has also been involved in the Ru’ach Campaign, and is the longest-serving campaign volunteer since the effort took shape eight years ago. When asked why he volunteers for the campaign year after year, Steven says, “I’m not asking for money for me; I’m asking for an investment for something we all care about… and there is satisfaction in doing work that helps keep the school prosperous and in good shape.”
Laurie Moskowitz and Steve Rabinowitz
With their combined savvy in political strategy, grassroots organizing and publicity, along with connections to D.C. government officials, Laurie Moskowitz and Steve Rabinowitz were volunteering for JPDS-NC before they even had kids.
“I think I was pregnant with Jake” (’14) when the school found itself battling for zoning approval for a new home, Laurie says. “A lot of our friends had older kids in JPDS-NC and they came to us for political advice. That’s how we got involved,” Steve says.
They’ve been involved ever since. “You want the school to thrive and do well and if our involvement can help make that happen, why wouldn’t we give our talents and skills to the school?” Laurie says.
The couple’s involvement has taken numerous forms and Steve says it’s helped them forge closer bonds with their children. It’s one thing to help with their math and Judaics homework, “it’s another thing to be deeply involved in the things they’re doing at school. It builds a closer relationship to our kids and a better understanding of their environment,” he says.
Their volunteerism is also, says Laurie, “about showing your kids… that community is better when you get involved.”
The couple have acted as political advisers on zoning and neighborhood relations, while Laurie has also been a room parent, co-chaired the Ru’ach Campaign, sat on the board for two terms and once taught a session on global development to Sammy’s (’16) Fourth Grade class.
Steve, meanwhile, is the school’s “unofficial publicist” and co-chaired the Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Lecture for seven years, helping to bring in such speakers as Elie Wiesel, Condoleeza Rice, George Mitchel and Elana Kagan.