The Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington

Founded in 1944, the Hebrew Academy of Washington offered an integrated program of religious and secular education.

The only all-day Jewish school in Washington at the time, Hebrew Academy was part of a larger national movement committed to providing students with a solid Jewish education while also preparing them to participate in the broader American community.

The Academy quickly outgrew the residential buildings off Georgia Avenue where it first held classes. It moved to the vacant Curtis School in Georgetown in 1946. School leaders began raising funds for a new school closer to the homes of families who were moving uptown.

In 1951, the Academy dedicated a new brick and limestone building at 16th Street and Fort Stevens Drive, NW, where it remained until moving to Silver Spring in 1976. In 1999, the Academy moved into its newly renovated Aspen Hill campus.

In 2002, the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital purchased the 16th Street building, returning Jewish learning to the site after more than twenty-five years.

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1. 1202 Decatur Street, NW

Students attended classes in this house and an adjacent building from 1943 to 1948. The house was purchased for $14,500 in 1943.

Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy Photo Archives
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2. Kindergarten, First Grade and Talmud Class, 1944

Twenty-one children, most from Orthodox homes, enrolled to begin kindergarten and first grade in February 1944.

Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy Photo Archives
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3. Curtis School, 3235 O Street, NW, 1946

Shown here is the dedication of the Curtis School as Hebrew Academy in 1946. Enrollment jumped to 216 students by 1949.

Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy Photo Archives
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4. 16th Street and Fort Stevens Drive, NW

Israeli Ambassador Abba Eban was the featured speaker at the 1951 dedication of the new Hebrew Academy, designed by Washington architects Murphy and Locraft, and Corning and Moore. The building was rededicated in 2002 as the Jewish Primary Day School.

Photograph by Jeremy Goldberg
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5. Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy


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6. Arctic Avenue, Rockville

After moving to the suburbs in 1976, the Hebrew Academy occupied a series of public school buildings. In 1999 the Academy renovated the former Robert E. Peary High School.

Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy Photo Archives. Photograph by Bob Stein
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