Young students of Ann Arbor Hebrew Day School

Ann Arbor Hebrew Day School received a $1.8 million donation from an anonymous donor to support all aspects of the school’s operation.

Featured photo courtesy of HDS

By Jennifer Rosenberg, Special to the Jewish News

Last month, Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor (HDS) secured a pledge from an anonymous donor for a gift of $1.8 million, the largest donation the school has received since opening its doors in 1975, and it will support all aspects of the school’s operation.

The pledge marks the latest in a series of fundraising successes for Hebrew Day School, which has received generous support in recent years from the Jeffrey Farber Family Foundation, the David and Nanci Farber Family Foundation, Mickey and Debbie Stern, the Allen Foundation and others.

Gil Seinfeld, president of the HDS Board, shared news of the gift with HDS families and staff shortly after the school year began. “The magnitude of this gift is, of course, extraordinary, but the instincts underlying it are familiar. It reflects deep appreciation for the value of Jewish education — an understanding of the fact that day schools have a profound and durable effect on their students’ sense of Jewish identity and of the central role day schools can play in an entire community’s Jewish experience.”

Seinfeld noted that this gift “will help scores of Jewish families in Ann Arbor to partake of the warm, proud, deeply connected Jewish community [his] family has enjoyed since moving to Ann Arbor.”

Greg Gafni-Pappas, immediate past president of the HDS Board, said, “This is extraordinarily exciting news for our school. It’s no secret that there has been a decline in day school enrollment across the country in recent years, and that, of course, can create significant financial challenges for schools.

“We have confronted some of these challenges at HDS, but we have been able to continue to supply an excellent product to our families because of generous support from our families, the Ann Arbor Jewish community, especially the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor, and dedicated supporters of Jewish education elsewhere in Michigan and throughout the United States. This gift builds on that tradition and will enable us to continue our important work.”

Sam Hendren, who has served on the HDS Board since 2016 and sits on its executive committee, emphasized that the benefits of this gift will extend far beyond Hebrew Day School families.

“There is ample evidence,” she explained, “of the relationship between Jewish education and having a strong, positive sense of Jewish identity as an adult. Day school graduates are more likely to be vibrant participants in, and leaders of, their Jewish communities when they grow older. So, the consequences of this gift will ripple far into the future and far beyond Ann Arbor, as our students go off to lead engaged Jewish lives wherever they choose to settle down.”


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