Teach the Children

Jewish Day School

These local Jewish day schools have it all: the resources to provide an outstanding general education and a deep understanding of how to impart Jewish knowledge in ways that resonate — and last a lifetime.

At Jewish Community High School of the Bay in San Francisco, the joy of honoring and celebrating Jewish traditions is a common thread that runs through academic and student life. The school’s four-year sequence of experiential journeys teaches about Israel and other places through real-world experience. “Our academics, both Judaic and general, prepare our graduates to be responsible Jews who transform the world for one another,” says marketing manager Maura Feingold. In the previous school year, students devoted more than 4,000 hours of community service to local, national and international organizations.

Oakland Hebrew Day School is known for its immersive Hebrew and Israeli studies. “OHDS is so welcoming. No matter the families’ practice of Judaism, being Jewish is something that is celebrated here,” says Melanie Marcus, director of admissions. Every day, students spend half the school day learning Hebrew. Last year, OHDS invited a visiting Israel Defense Forces unit to come and work with the children to further integrate Israel into their learning.

Tehiyah Day School of El Cerrito is another East Bay standout. Tehiyah’s mission is to instill a sense of responsibility and love of learning in its students and help forge a strong connection to Judaism and Israel. “We have designed almost all of our curriculum to be fully integrated into Judaism, whether it’s counting menorahs in math or connecting literature to Jewish history,” says Donna Sidel, director of communications. Tehiyah’s afterschool program offers students homework help and the space to be creative.

In Palo Alto, the Avodah L’Olam program at Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School allows middle-school students to experience social action, service learning and leadership through tzedakah, or charitable acts. Every year, students participate in schoolwide community service. In addition, the school offers learning outside of the classroom, with educational trips in the Bay Area (Marin Headlands), out of state (Ashland, Ore.) and out of the country (Israel).

Sharing honors in the Peninsula/South Bay region is Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto. Kehillah students see a lot of action — social action, that is. Social action and community service are a huge part of the Kehillah experience. Students travel to Israel to help in hands-on community building. “Our school is small, but the help is endless,” says head of school Lillian Howard. Extra-curricular activities include student government, speech and debate club, yearbook, student magazine and theater.

At the Marin campus of Brandeis Hillel Day School, the core values are integrity, kindness and service. Stressing moral courage, ethical behavior and creative thinking is part of the curriculum, which combines general and Judaic studies. “By setting up the highest expectation for each student and supporting ongoing teacher development, BHDS students receive academic excellence and learn Jewish values daily,” says Steve Bileca, assistant head of campus.

San Francisco

Jewish Community

High School of the Bay

(415) 345-9777


East Bay

Oakland Hebrew Day School


(510) 531-8600


Tehiyah Day School

El Cerrito

(510) 233-3013


Peninsula/South Bay

Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School

Palo Alto

(650) 494-8200


Peninsula/South Bay

Kehillah Jewish High School

Palo Alto

(650) 213-9600


North Bay

Brandeis Hillel Day School

San Rafael

(415) 472-1833



College-Prep High School

For many students, high school is meaningful not just for the memories it creates, but because it represents a special time — and one of uncertainty, with college on the horizon. These Bay Area college-preparatory schools understand that and know how to turn out confident students who are more than ready for college — and life.

Across the street from Golden Gate Park is the small community of 375 students at the Urban School of San Francisco. “We like to say that in such a small school, there is no back of the classroom,” says Kris Bailey, director of communications. A block schedule typical of many colleges is one way Urban students prepare for the big leagues. The longer class periods allow them to have deeper discussions and extend their learning. Urban also offers honor courses recognized by some universities.

Scholarship, citizenship and diversity keep Head-Royce ahead of the game in the East Bay. “At Head-Royce, students are provided with one-of-a-kind programs and opportunities to explore career paths and alternatives to learning,” says Crystal Land, assistant head of school. The school has an internship program, held during the last three weeks of school, that sends seniors into their field of interest to learn what it’s like to work full days and have professional responsibility.

Small and mighty works for the Branson School in Ross. The Marin college-prep school has 320 students on its 17-acre campus. One of the school’s hallmarks is the trusting and dynamic relationship between students and teachers. At Branson, students have regular meetings with their college counselors and teachers, and the strategy must be working: Many graduates go on to top universities.

San Francisco

Urban School of San Francisco

(415) 626-2919


East Bay

Head-Royce School


(510) 531-1300


North Bay

The Branson School


(415) 454-3612



Early Childhood Program

Preschool typically is about singing, playing, dancing, sand, and arts and crafts. Oh, and naps. But for lucky little ones who attend Jewish preschool, the experience also starts them on a path to Jewish life and learning.

The Claude and Louise Rosenberg Early Childhood Education Program is one of three preschool programs at the JCC of San Francisco. “Here at the JCC we really love to do projects and base our learning on the children’s interest,” says director Pam Schneider. This approach combines the Reggio Emilia method, which is guided by the children’s interests, with Jewish values and culture. Last year, students and parents worked together to build a boat named Shabbat, a child-inspired project. Holiday celebrations and weekly Shabbat services reinforce Jewish learning on a regular basis.

Children at Gan Mah Tov in Oakland start learning about Jewish values from an early age. With mitzvah trees in each classroom, students and parents are encouraged to recognize and share their good deeds on a daily basis. “Everyone at Gan Mah Tov works together,” says director Cheryl Schwarz. “We follow the Jewish tradition of nurturing the mensch in each one of our children.”

At the Peninsula JCC in Foster City, preschoolers learn about the importance of Judaism in their lives in many different ways. “We don’t just welcome in the child, we welcome in the family,” says Sheila Marx, early childhood assistant director. An active parent committee helps to choose activities, such as cooking, soccer and art.

Another winner is T’enna Preschool in Palo Alto, where Jewish values and traditions are integrated seamlessly into the program. “Judaism is part of who we are, what we teach and how we live,” says Caren Gans, director for early childhood youth and family education. Located right beside the Oshman Family JCC, the preschool uses the center for many fun and educational activities.

At Gan Israel Preschool in Terra Linda, Jewish values are considered everyday values. “We teach Jewish values and holidays in a developmental, meaningful, hands-on way,” says director Gittel Rice. This year, the school will offer its first adult programming, which will allow parents to hear speakers each month. “Our children and families rejoice in Judaism and build the confidence to continue their Jewish journey in whichever way is most meaningful to them,” Rice says.

San Francisco

Claude and Louise Rosenberg ECE Program

JCC of San Francisco

(415) 292-1282


East Bay

Gan Mah Tov Preschool


(510) 530-2146


Peninsula/South Bay

Peninsula JCC Preschool

Foster City

(650) 212-7522


T’enna Preschool Oshman Family JCC

Palo Alto

(650) 223-8650


North Bay

Gan Israel Preschool

Terra Linda

(415) 507-0460