Jewish Academy of Orlando cultivates a culture of giving back to the community and to those in need by supporting school-driven and student-led fundraisers, recognizing students for acts of giving, and opportunities for students to participate in community service projects.
From the youngest of ages to the school’s alumni, the act oftzedakah(righteous acts of giving) is deeply rooted in the school’s curriculum. Two favorite student activities are the kindergarten-managed Healthy Snack Store, which benefits Jewish Family Services of Orlando, and the second graders’ Fun Run benefiting Habitat for Humanity.
The culture of giving extends beyond the classroom. Knesset, the school’s student-government organization, encourages giving to community and national organizations through fundraisers for organizations including Pet Alliance, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Red Cross, and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
“One of our core values is that we are a Caring Communitythat gives back to those in need,” stated Alan Rusonik, head of school. “We encourage our students to be grateful for their many blessings, and we give students of every age multiple opportunities to give back.”
Part of of the school’s Jewish Values curriculum and a core value of the school is tikkun olam(repairing the world). Students are encouraged to give tzedakah on their own and are afforded the opportunity each Friday at Kabbalat Shabbat. As well, each week, individual students are recognized for acts of kindness through the Mindful Mitzvot(commandments/good deeds) program. Often times, the children are recognized for their generosity in giving.
This culture of giving has grown organically through the student community. Following hurricanes Maria in Puerto Rico and Harvey in Texas, students initiated drives to benefit the Red Cross for those affected by the storms.
Even alumni keep the tradition of giving. Many alumni return and engage the school community to give as part of their b’nai mitzvah projects by holding fundraisers or food drives to benefit those in need.
“We are committed to our caring community,” Rusonik added. “By creating this culture of giving, we are giving our students yet another tool to change the world.”Jewish Academy of Orlando serves central Florida students of all faiths from grades kindergarten through fifth. The school delivers a whole-child education fostering academic excellence and character education rooted in Jewish values. Jewish Academy of Orlando is accredited by the Florida Council of Independent Schools. Beginning in fall of 2019, the school will offer a transitional kindergarten.