AJA 8th-Graders Go Armed for Next Level
EducationGraduation 2018

AJA 8th-Graders Go Armed for Next Level

They have the tools, wisdom, Torah, community and values for high school and beyond, Rabbi Ari Leubitz says.

Michael Jacobs

Atlanta Jewish Times Editor Michael Jacobs is on his second stint leading the AJT's editorial operations. He previously served as managing editor from 2005 to 2008.

(From left) Devorah Addess, Shayna Leibowitz, Josh Alhadeff and Mikayla Avdar-Rubin watch as Binny Frenkel returns to his seat after receiving his certificate.
(From left) Devorah Addess, Shayna Leibowitz, Josh Alhadeff and Mikayla Avdar-Rubin watch as Binny Frenkel returns to his seat after receiving his certificate.

Atlanta Jewish Academy sent 30 eighth-graders on to high school Wednesday, June 6, with confidence that they have the tools to be “A” human beings as well as “A” students.

“You have all of the tools. You have the wisdom. You have the Torah. You have community, and you have values,” AJA Head of School Rabbi Ari Leubitz told the class at its recognition ceremony after he recounted a midrash about making something of the gifts you receive. “You have to take the skills, the knowledge, the Torah and wrestle with it, knead it, sift it, argue with it, make it relevant, fight about it, keep it alive and make it your own.”

Eliana Leubitz, the daughter of Head of School Rabbi Ari Leubitz, receives her certificate for completing the eighth grade.

The ceremony — the equivalent of a middle school graduation for AJA, which runs from preschool through high school — was more personal than usual for Rabbi Leubitz because it included his daughter Eliana.

“I can really say us this time,” he told his fellow eighth-grade parents about the emotions they felt about their children’s growing independence. “It’s empowering. It’s age-appropriate. It’s normal. And it’s scary.”

Kiki Starr speaks about the Jaguar Jems, the eighth-grade community service group at AJA.

Members of the class demonstrated their readiness for high school.

Kiki Starr spoke of the success of community service organization Jaguar Jems, which raised more than $830 for CURE Childhood Cancer and more than $200 for the Weiss Family Foundation, which helps people overcome poverty.

Noah Kalnitz and Daliya Wallenstein drew lessons from Joshua and Caleb’s refusal to agree with the negative, fearful report the other 10 scouts brought back from the land of Israel in the week’s Torah portion, Shelach.

“Standing up for what you believe is right will ultimately be rewarded. It is important that we act as leaders and that we speak up when no one else is willing to,” even amid the increased pressures of high school, Daliya said.

Noah Kalnitz and Daliya Wallenstein draws lessons from the week’s Torah portion, Shelach.

Noah said their AJA education will help them do it.

He was one of half a dozen class members honored during the awards portion of the ceremony. Rabbi Leubitz named him the Davening Man of the Year among the eighth-grade boys.

Margalit Lytton accepts the Ephraim Frankel Award from Rabbi Ari Leubitz.

The Kesser Shem Tov (Crown of a Good Name) Award went to Yered Wittenberg, the class gabbai, and Ella Goldstein. Jonah Gordon and Daliya Wallenstein got the Head of School Award. And Margalit Lytton received the Ephraim Frankel Award.

Rabbi Leubitz also recognized class members who played on the school’s MAAC championship boys soccer and basketball teams and Margalit Lytton and Shiraz Agichtein for their science fair success.

The head of school told parents that their children have learned what it means to be a human being and a proud Jew at AJA. “They didn’t always get it right, and neither did we. But we got here together, and we could not be prouder of this class.”

AJA eighth-graders sing “Hatikvah” at the conclusion of their recognition ceremony June 6.

Rabbi Leubitz added: “May they always see in our face and hear in our language our unconditional love and support for them as they move forward and continue the next stage of their growth.”


Leah Houben receives her eighth-grade certificate from Debbie Bornstein (left) and Missy Rivner.

AJA Middle School Class of 2018

The following are the 30 Atlanta Jewish Academy eighth-graders who were recognized for completing Middle School on Wednesday, June 6.

Devorah Addess
Shiraz Agichtein
Josh Alhadeff
Josh Asherian
Mikayla Avdar-Rubin

Watched by Jaron Brenner, Shmuel Gimpelevich steps up to receive his eighth-grade certificate.

Jaron Brenner
Binny Frenkel
Shami Frenkel
Ari Gabay
Danny Gadelov
Shmuel Gimpelevich
Manny Goldin
Ella Goldstein
Jonah Gordon
Leah Houben
Noah Kalnitz
Shayna Leibowitz
Eliana Leubitz
Jacob Lewis
Miriam Lynn
Margalit Lytton
Noah Meltzer
Ezra Miller
Cece Robison

Yered Wittenberg receives the Kesser Shem Tov (Crown of a Good Name) Award from Rabbi Ari Leubitz.

Max Schorvitz
Racheli Seeman
Elliot Sokol
Kiki Starr
Daliya Wallenstein
Yered Wittenberg




The class laughs about faculty comments made during the certificate presentation to Cece Robison.
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