Ezra Academy, which already had been transformative for our daughter, has been a total lifesaver during these difficult times. The transition to distance learning has been smooth, and the teachers have been present, prepared, and patient the whole time. They haven't lost a step. Even the gym teacher has sent home fun conditioning exercises for all the kids! It's been exactly what we hoped for from a Jewish day school, a focused, personal attention on the whole child. The parent community, too, has rallied, supporting one another. Ezra Academy has been a blessing in a time when we need more blessings.
–Mark Oppenheimer - April 2019 (current parent)
My three daughters recently enrolled at Ezra Academy. My oldest daughter is in 4th grade; my middle daughter is in kindergarten, and my youngest daughter is in the Montessori preschool. I highly recommend Ezra Academy as a superb educational experience – and my husband and I believe that enrolling our children at Ezra is one of the best decisions we have made as parents. We lived in Old Saybrook until a year ago, where our oldest daughter attended public school. We moved to Cheshire in 2018 and enrolled our daughter in public school. Even though our daughter attended some of the best public schools in the state, we have found that Ezra provides a unique and phenomenal educational opportunity that public school simply cannot offer. In the public school, the school day was rushed and stressful. With only a short recess each day (which often times was spent indoors) and only 20 minutes for lunch, there was simply inadequate time to eat, play, and socialize. Much time was spent on classroom management rather than teaching. Large class sizes and a “one size fits all” teaching method were the norm. We love that Ezra Academy has longer recess, longer lunch, and time to pray, socialize, and be in nature. We are thrilled that the low teacher to student ratio allows our children to be taught in a way that speaks to them. Our children end the school day happy and calm rather than stressed and angry. Our oldest daughter has become so much more confident in her academic skills since starting at Ezra Academy. Even though she is a very bright child, the way that math was taught in the public school was confusing to her and she thought she was bad at math. The mathematics instruction at Ezra is flexible, allowing children to use a variety of problem-solving methods. Our fourth-grader has gotten her confidence back and knows that she can succeed at math as well as all academic pursuits. The Judaic learning at Ezra is outstanding. Our fourth grader had previously attended religious school at a reform temple, where she learned only very minimal Hebrew. We were very concerned about how she would adapt to a curriculum that is so rich in Hebrew. She has learned so much so quickly at Ezra. Our kindergartener is learning so much vocabulary in Hebrew and is so happy to teach it to me! She loves to correct my pronunciation of Hebrew words and insert the occasional Hebrew word into At Ezra, our children feel completely comfortable being themselves. There is a culture of kindness and children are respectful and caring to one another. The teachers and students mutually respect each other. They embrace others’ differences rather than ridicule each other for them. Even though Ezra Academy has a less diverse student body than public schools, we have found that our children have more diverse friendships. Rather than spending all of their time with a small social “clique” of children who are just like themselves, they spend time with children who are younger and older than them and with kids of both genders. Ezra Academy’s emphasis on kindness and ethics has made my job as a parent much easier. Around the time of Yom Kippur, I overheard my older daughters apologizing to each other for the times they had treated each other poorly. They learn to give tzedakah, care for the planet, and advocate for their beliefs. The Montessori program is quite amazing. My daughter, who is not even two years old, has become extremely independent in her short time at Ezra Academy. She is communicating; climbing; opening up water bottles; feeding herself; expressing her needs; and working on dressing herself. She has far fewer tantrums than my older children did because she is learning how to communicate and address her own needs. She cried every single day I dropped her off at a regular daycare for almost an entire year – but she is now happy to come to school at Ezra each day. The warm and caring teachers, stimulating curriculum, and kind friends make all the difference.
–Allison Barasz - October 2019 (current parent)
We moved from Israel to New Haven two years ago in the summer of 2018, and since then we have been a part of Ezra Academy. During our first year, three of our children were at the school, and this year, all four of them were at the school and pre-school. Our time in the US is quickly coming to an end, and we are preparing to move back to Israel this summer. We would like to tell you how grateful we are for having been part of the Ezra Academy community during our time here. We found Ezra Academy to be a wonderful place for our children, a place that allowed them, and us, to experience school in a way that we had never had the chance before: a space of learning and growing, of constant listening and dialogue, of Jewish and human values. We felt it on festive occasions and every day; during special trips and daily lessons; when speaking with the Ezra Academy faculty and when discussing their school day with our children. Lia, who had a mostly negative previous experience of school where she was never stimulated intellectually, was challenged at Ezra Academy to the brink of her abilities. Lia’s teachers put her to the task, while also supporting and teaching her so much. She blossomed in her studies, broadened her knowledge and curiosity, and discovered her own passions. Matya has always been inclined toward artistic activities; he found at Ezra Academy, thanks to his teachers, amazing opportunities to develop his creativity, not only in art classes but also through regular classes which were so skillfully combined with challenges requiring him to respond in creative ways. Of our children, Matya had the hardest time getting used to life and to school here in the US during the first few months, but thanks to the warm welcome and support he received at Ezra Academy, he now loves it here and is even quite worried about going back. Be’eri’s Ezra Academy experience took her through the incredibly important years of kindergarten and first grade, from the daily games and fun to much more structured learning time. Her teachers in Keshet took her through this process in a way that we don’t think could have been done any better. She has kept the fun and happy attitude of a young child, while also becoming an amazing reader, both in English and in Hebrew. And Zohar, who was at the Montessori pre-school this last year, went to school happily every day. We could feel that she felt welcome, loved and cared for. She also went through many developmental skills this year, and was constantly helped and supported by her teachers. This academic year took an unexpected turn on March 17th, when schools closed across many states due to the pandemics. Yet we have been impressed with how patiently, skillfully and gracefully the Ezra Academy faculty took up the challenge of switching to remote learning, and maintaining the children’s routine of classroom interactions, each class according to the abilities of the children. We would also like to thank the school in particular for the financial aid that it bestowed upon us. Having come here as post-docs and on a sabbatical year, it would simply not have been possible for us to send our children to Ezra Academy without the very substantial aid that the school allotted us. We do not take such help for granted. We know that the school faces serious financial challenges, and we are all the more grateful for the opportunity that was given to our children and us to taste a high-quality Jewish-American education. We cannot imagine how our American experience would have looked had our children not gone to Ezra Academy, but we have no doubt that it would not have been remotely as successful as it turned out to be. For this, we are forever thankful. We (or some of us) are happy to go back home to Israel, but we will sorely miss several aspects of our life here in the US. Without any doubt, the part that we will have the hardest time going away from is being part of Ezra Academy. We wish we were able to say goodbye to each of you in person, but unfortunately the current situation won’t allow us to do that. We would like to thank each and every one of you at Ezra Academy. We are blessed to having been part of your school for two years, and we wish you all, individually and as a school, much health, happiness, and success forward.
–Tsivia and Nahliel Wygoda - June 2020