Our Stories

The Beginnings of the Middle School

May 18, 2015 by Adina Kanefield (Faculty and Staff)

Many people have asked how the middle school and the amazing gift came about, so I have taken a moment to share with you the story of how this all unfolded….

Ambassador Alfred Moses, a longtime member of the Washington, DC community and a friend to several of our school families, approached JPDS-NC several years ago about making a transformational gift to the school to expand Jewish education in the city by building a middle school. Ambassador Moses contacted the Gottesman family, longstanding philanthropists in the Jewish community, to join him in a significant gift and to do so in memory of their dear relative Milton Gottesman, a longtime resident of Washington, DC who supported JPDS-NC in its early years, and who was a close friend of Ambassador Moses.

Deep believers in the value of Jewish education, Moses and the Gottesmans see the middle school as a way to expand the pool of students who will opt for Jewish education. Additionally, they, like us, feel that the nation’s capital deserves a robust day school to serve the growing base of families in DC who are choosing to stay in or near the city to raise their families. Alfred views the middle school years as pivotal in securing Jewish identity and he wanted a day school option close to home for DC’s families.

At the time, JPDS-NC had been exploring the issue of adding a middle school, but its priority was expanding the school in the lower grades, having just purchased the South Campus. The school, initially, was not ready to address the question of a middle school. We felt that we needed to focus on the South Campus expansion, and to solidify a broader base of students in our lower grades, which we believed was key to a successful middle school. We knew, however, that ultimately we would have to address the issue of a middle school because of the changes in entry years for public and independent schools around the city and Montgomery County. Subsequently, with the South Campus full and open, the board began researching the feasibility of a middle school and making sure that we could accomplish it successfully.

We excitedly informed the donors that we were ready to fully explore the middle school; for over a year, the Board and volunteers researched parent interest and the feasibility of adding a middle school. With extensive research conducted on the facility, parent interest, and costs, the Board of Trustees determined to move forward with the middle school. Alfred Moses and the Gottesman family, through the Gottesman Fund, gave a combined gift of 20 million dollars. Board member and young family, Chani and Steven Laufer, stepped up to ensure that we could meet the full costs of the middle school and they provided a match, in addition to their one million dollar gift, to bring the full community into the effort to reach the middle school funding goal. Subsequently, the Gottesman Fund committed an additional amount up to two million dollars to enhance the renovation of the entire school building, in addition to the new middle school facility. Parents have now begun to provide generous support for the middle school through the match program and we are on our way to a spectacular school building on the North Campus.

The school name will become the Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital and the middle school will be known as the Moses Family Middle School. The school buildings will remain named the Kay and Robert Schattner Center.

Our new doors will open in September 2018!