Fifty years of Jewish education. Fifty years of community service. And fifty years of inspiring Jewish youths to become the best versions of themselves that they can be.
The Epstein School is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year with a series of programming highlighting the school’s impact in the community over the years.
“We are truly celebrating our history,” said Dr. David Abusch-Magder, head of school. “We are proud of the leadership role we have taken in Atlanta Jewish day school education over the past 50 years.”
While the school’s curriculum may have changed over the years, Abusch-Magder said, the objective is still the same – prepare Jewish Atlantan students to be role models in the Jewish community and abroad.
“Over these years, the models of education have evolved, as has the vision for Jewish day schools,” Abusch-Magder said. “Throughout that time, we have been responsive, adaptable, and innovative – and we have thrived.”
The headmaster noted that Epstein’s enrollment numbers have been steadily on the rise for several years, with a full early childhood program and waiting lists for many other grades.
Epstein’s school year calendar is brimming with celebratory programs and school spirit. The following is just a selection of planned activities that will honor the school’s milestone:
• Back-to-school week featuring swag, anniversary décor, and more for faculty and staff during the week of Aug. 7-10;
• Annual ECP kick-off to the school year on Aug. 27 that carried the 1950s theme, featuring train rides, bounce houses, face painting, crafts, and more;
• Major donor event on Aug. 30, held this year at the school with a catered dinner and guest speakers; the Crew in Blue students, who also serve as leaders of the Epstein House System, served as ambassadors, leading tours around campus;
• School-wide celebration of the 50th day of the school year slated for Oct. 23;
• Kick-off the 50 Days of Giving drive on Nov. 28 (Giving Tuesday);
• Special VIP Day on Dec. 15, also known as Grandparents or Special Friends Day;
• Annual Alumni Homecoming Basketball Game on Jan. 10, 2024 (Epstein vs. Davis Academy);
• PTO will host a 1950s-themed sock hop on Jan. 20, 2024;
• A TBD-themed alumni event set for Feb. 24, 2024;
• Annual celebration gala in the spring of 2024;
• All-school Maccabiah events in May 2024.
When asked what is different about Jewish education today compared to when the school opened, Abusch-Magder said, “Our world, and our Jewish world, have shifted over the last 50 years. When Epstein was founded, Jewish day school education was very focused on teaching content, religious observance, mitzvot, etc. The desire for a Jewish education has not changed, but what that experience looks like has significantly changed since 1973.”
He continued, “For instance, a fundamental piece of Jewish education has always been to think deeply, question content, search for meaning – those practices were taught in 1973 but are far more in the foreground and intentional at Epstein today. Over the years, we have changed the physical structure of the classroom and the structure of our program to inspire collaboration, group discussion, and, most important, questioning. We encourage our students to always think about and to be empowered to ask, ‘Why?’”
Abusch-Magder summed up the occasion with a nod both to the future and the past.
“Looking ahead to our 50th anniversary, we were inspired to reflect on our successes and accomplishments over the last five decades and imagine how we can keep evolving and meeting our community’s needs for the next 50 years…celebrating milestones offers an opportunity to reflect on your past – what paths you took to get where you are; celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of today; and build a vision for tomorrow – planning for the future.”
The Epstein School was founded in 1973 at the Ahavath Achim Synagogue and moved to its current location in 1987.