The only Jewish day school in Washington, DC has received a $20 million gift commitment to build a new middle school on its upper 16th Street campus. The gift, from Alfred Moses and The Gottesman Fund to the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital (JPDS-NC), is among the largest of its kind to a Washington-area independent school or to any Jewish day school in the nation.
“It is my hope that the addition of a middle school at JPDS-NC will deepen the education and knowledge of the next generation of Jewish day school students and enhance Jewish life in our nation’s capital,” said Alfred Moses, one of the two donors who jointly committed the 20 million dollars toward the middle school.
“This gift is a game-changer for JPDS-NC and propels us forward in serving the Jewish community,” said JPDS-NC Board president Greg Shron. Following a comprehensive strategic planning process, the JPDS-NC Board of Trustees voted unanimously to pursue a middle school. “The Board of Trustees looked at the growing demand for Jewish education in and near Washington, DC, and decided that we needed to add a middle school to extend the high quality learning experience that JPDS-NC provides,” said Shron.
The Board of Trustees had been considering a middle school for several years, particularly as the District of Columbia, Montgomery County and local independent schools began moving to sixth grade as an entry year for middle school. Around that time, Alfred Moses, former United States ambassador to Romania, longtime partner in the Washington, DC law firm Covington & Burling, and Co-Founder of Promontory Financial Group, approached JPDS-NC with the idea of funding a middle school. The school was in the process of expanding its lower grades from two to three classes per grade, had just purchased a second building, and was not quite ready to pursue a middle school. After developing a core foundation of students in its lower grades, and after much research, the Board determined that the timing was ripe for expansion to a middle school. Alfred Moses approached the Gottesman family in New York, with the idea of joining him in supporting a JPDS-NC middle school and in naming the school after Milton Gottesman, who was a long time resident of Washington, DC and dear friend of Alfred Moses.
The school will change its name from Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital to Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital. The middle school will be known as the Moses Family Middle School. The school buildings, both North and South campuses, will remain named the Kay and Robert Schattner Center after the school’s longtime supporters.
JPDS-NC will immediately begin the design process for the middle school, which will be located on the current North Campus at 6045 16th Street. The entire building will be renovated, including a new third floor that will serve as the middle school wing. Groundbreaking for construction of the expanded building is anticipated to begin in June 2017, with the middle school opening in September 2018.
As part of the effort to build out support for the middle school initiative, Chani and Steven Laufer, current parents of three JPDS-NC students, committed a gift of one million dollars outright, along with additional matching funds. “We hope this gift will not only ensure the development of a superb middle school Jewish and general studies education, but also encourage other current and alumni parents and community leaders to join us in supporting this worthy cause,” said Steven Laufer, a member of the Board of Trustees.