Getting to Know the Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor

Discover a joyful community of learners

Caption: An HDS student displays her artwork and excitement for a new school year
Photo Cred: Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor

In 1974, a small group of dedicated Jewish community members gathered to discuss an ambitious vision: establishing a school in which students could learn academics and religious studies in an identity-affirming environment. 

Today, that school is a thriving institution and an integral part of the Ann Arbor community. Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor (HDS), located in the Jewish Community Center of Greater Ann Arbor, is a joyful community of learners serving families and students from young fives through fifth grade. 

A day at Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor 

Students at HDS enjoy a responsive learning environment which includes core academics as well as Hebrew language and Judaic studies classes. 

HDS teaching teams work collaboratively to utilize curricular connections.

Students may learn a science unit in Hebrew class while learning relevant Hebrew vocabulary, or work on writing skills through an assignment in Judaic studies. Students learn important skills and concepts through teacher-led lessons, structured practice, multisensory activities, projects, and service learning activities.

A strong mission 

When asked, staff members had plenty of positive things to share about their school.

Sara Goldshlack, director of student growth and support, said, “We want HDS graduates to go into the world with excellent academic skills, grounding in their Jewish identities, and with a sense of obligation and empowerment to make the world a better place.”

Leaders at HDS invest deeply in relationships and community building. They strive to create an atmosphere in which each member of the school – students, teachers, parents, alumni – is celebrated for their  individual contribution as well as their belonging within the spirit of the broad community.

Faculty and staff especially see the success of this mission particularly when alumni return and share stories of their lasting connections to their fellow classmates, as well as reflect on the opportunities HDS provided to think deeply, intentionally, and personally about Jewish values.

 Community connections 

Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor considers the Ann Arbor community an important part of what makes it special.

Priscilla Esquivel, director of institutional advancement, said, “Hebrew Day School is nestled in the midst of an incredibly supportive and vibrant social community.” 

Students and families extend their in-school education into the community in a variety ways, including through community service, participation in local organizations, and active volunteerism. 

This focus on the community and broader world is evident in the staff’s hopes for their students. 

Rabbi Will Keller, head of school, describes his goals as being focused on the development of “capable, confident, and values-driven global citizens whose impact on the world is shaped to some degree by their Jewish identity.”

Exciting new directions 

Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor continues to grow and change to meet students’ needs. In response to the pandemic, HDS implemented a social emotional learning curriculum that has garnered praise from the community. 

The curriculum, which was adapted from several sources and tailored to integrate Jewish values, was designed to help students learn about their feelings and express them in healthy ways, practice social problem solving, build friendships, and show empathy. 

In addition, HDS has recently expanded its Young Fives program as word spreads about this high quality program. Young Fives is intended for students with late birthdays or who might otherwise benefit from a pre-kindergarten year of early learning. 

Contact Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor

For more information on HDS, reach out to the main office at 734-971-4633 or visit their website at

Dr. Alyssa Whitford
Dr. Alyssa Whitford
Author: Dr. Alyssa Whitford is a former K-12 teacher and current professor of education at Hope College in Holland, MI. She is passionate about literacy, social studies, and all things education. She is also a proud parent to two children of her own and loves sharing the holiday season with family.

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