Around 300 people attended Epstein Hillel School’s annual gala on May 7 at Congregation Shirat Hayam. At the event, Head of School Amy Gold was honored with the Dr. Bennett I. Solomon Community Leadership Award, Israeli activist Noa Tishby was the featured speaker, and Israeli musician David Broza performed. The gala was hosted by Karen and David Rosenberg.
Gold has led the school since 2015, when she accepted the challenge to transform Hillel. At the time, there were 51 students enrolled. This year, the school has 107 students and Gold estimates that by the fall of 2024, enrollment will jump to more than 130 students.
“You might be wondering, ‘What is happening up on the hill at 6 Community Road? What is the secret to their success?’ There’s no secret, the answer lies in one word: relationships,” said Gold. “Our school is one where everyone, students, faculty and staff, feel connected to one another and have a strong sense of belonging. Research shows that when people feel emotionally and physically safe, they are more likely to try new things and be open to feedback promoting increased growth, learning, and creative expression. Epstein Hillel is a place where students’ strengths are nurtured and their challenges are scaffolded.”
In his introductory remarks, David Rosenberg said education plays an important role in combating antisemitism. “Education is one of the keys to fight Jew-hatred, and a Jewish day school is the best delivery system. Our children need Hillel to feel comfortable discussing Judaism, Israel, history and current events so that they are confident and well-armed to combat the racism that they encounter,” he said.
Israeli actress Noa Tishby, who served as Israel’s special envoy for Combating Antisemitism and the Delegitimization of Israel until recently, spoke about antisemitism, Israel and American Jewry. She believes one of the best ways of countering antisemitism and anti-Zionists is to engage them in a conversation in order to build trust.
“From my perspective, the only thing that we can do is speak up as loudly as possible and be as open as we possibly can. That’s the only thing that would actually end antisemitism or make it go away again. The person that you know is the person that you cannot hate,” she told the Journal in an interview. “Our tendency is as a community to become more insular and more kind-of-like defeated and more scared and closed off. It’s counterintuitive to what needs to actually happen right now. We need to be more open, more verbal, more out there.”