On Feb. 11, members of the Farber Hebrew Day School-Yeshivat Akiva community gathered at the…
A Gift And A Challenge
Gil Seinfeld Special to the Jewish News
Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor awarded gift by the Farber family.
This spring, the Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor secured one of the largest donations in its 40-year history. The Jeffrey Farber Family Foundation and the David and Nanci Farber Family Foundation have jointly pledged a gift of $225,000 to the school to support its variable tuition program, which helps assure the affordability of an HDS education. It will also support the school’s efforts to meet the needs of all students through enrichment and remediation programs, resources for students with special needs, and programming focused on children’s social, emotional and spiritual development.
The Farber family, primarily through the William and Audrey Farber Family Foundation, has provided significant support for Jewish education and institutions across Metro Detroit, including Hillel Day School in Farmington Hills, Farber Hebrew Day School-Yeshivat Akiva in Southfield and Temple Israel in West Bloomfield. The family has also been active in support of programming and resources for children and adults with special needs, most notably through the work of the Farber Soul Center in West Bloomfield.
“My father, Bill Farber, of blessed memory, often said, ‘A Jew is a Jew is a Jew,’ which translated into support of Jewish education across denominations as well as efforts to make Jewish education accessible by all,” Jeff Farber said. “Our family foundations focus on Jewish life in the Detroit Metropolitan area, and we believe that a robust, inclusive day school in Ann Arbor is essential to the region.”
Jennifer Rosenberg, Hebrew Day School’s head of school, said, “We are thrilled to have the support of the Farber family, especially in connection with two features of our work that are so closely tied to our institutional values and core mission.
“HDS has long been committed to guaranteeing that Jewish education is accessible to every family in the Ann Arbor area that desires it for their children,” she said. “That means financial circumstances cannot get in the way. The generosity of the Farber foundations will help us to continue living by that ideal.
“We also work especially hard to make sure that we reach every child in the school and help them all to learn and grow,” she added. “Sometimes that means providing accommodations or assistive technologies for children with special needs; sometimes it means tailoring a unique curriculum or providing specialized instruction for students who are especially strong in one area or another.
“When it comes to educating young children, one size does not fit all. Right-sizing the education we offer to each individual student requires talented teachers and proper resources. This gift will help us secure both.”
Lauren Katz, parent of an HDS alumna and two current HDS students, said. “I have seen firsthand what a difference it makes to send your kids to a school that is institutionally committed to connecting with each child and addressing his or her particular needs and capacities.”
The $225,000 gift has been structured as a match, as the Foundations’ leadership is hoping to galvanize the Ann Arbor Jewish community and Jewish communities across Southeast Michigan.
Greg Gafni-Pappas, Hebrew Day School’s board president, said the school has raised substantial funds toward the match through its Chad Gadya initiative, which asks donors to provide a gift to support tuition for “Just One Kid.”
Monies raised for Hebrew Day School through its upcoming joint fundraiser with the Jewish Community Center of Greater Ann Arbor will also bring the school closer to securing the matching funds from the Farber foundations.
“This is an exciting and important time for us,” Rosenberg said. “HDS has been a part of the Jewish communal landscape in Ann Arbor for a long time, and the Farbers’ generosity will enable us to continue in our mission to make sure that excellent, individualized Jewish education is accessible to any family in our community that wants it.”