Our Stories

Meet the Purim Ball Honorees: Steve and Chani Laufer

March 21, 2019 by Sarah Wildman (Community)

When Chani and Steve Laufer moved from Riverdale, NY to Washington, DC in early 2012, they came in search of two things—a vibrant Jewish community and a great school for their kids Shoshana (’20), Ari (’22), and Erez (’25). Friends recommended JPDS. “They thought it would be a great fit for us,” Steve recalls.

“JPDS reflected our values the best,” says Chani, thinking back on her and Steve’s decision to enroll their kids. “It was a warm and loving environment. It was an easy choice for us.” They were pleased that it had both a great academic program and a great community. Steve says he was immediately struck by how “open minded and very intentional” the educational decisions at JPDS were. Plus, as members of Ohev Shalom–The National Synagogue just down the road on 16th street, it felt like a natural continuation of their new community life as many from the shul were sending their kids to JPDS.

Once the Laufers joined the school, JPDS quickly became a whole-family experience. Steve—now President of the Board of Trustees—jumped in to lend his financial expertise and also took a lead role in the creation of the Moses Family Middle School as Co-Chair of the Middle School Steering Committee. “It has been an exciting time,” says Steve, thinking back on his tenure as Board President. “These years have been an important time in the schools’ history. It’s been an honor to be in this role for this particular moment.”

Chani, too, has been an enthusiastic advocate and ambassador for Jewish education and MILTON. She has lent her skills and talents to various MILTON efforts, and is a ready and gracious host for many community events.

Of Milton Chani says, “Throughout our time at the school it has been an accepting place for everyone for different levels of observance, and there was a real warmth and embrace of everyone.” That means, she emphasizes, not just “tolerance” but “true inclusion of people from all backgrounds.” Steve is quick to agree. “The diversity is an important part of the school’s character and part of what makes it so special.”

Steve and Chani have been deeply generous to the school, and not just with their time. Over the years, they provided tremendous support as well as the extraordinary outright and matching gifts that helped make the middle school and renovation of the Kay and Robert Schattner Center North Campus a reality.

For them the giving is simple. “We feel grateful to be part of the Milton community and are happy to support it. We want Milton to be a great school for our kids and for the rest of the kids in the area and we want to make sure it’s accessible to all families.”