Growing Up Jewish

After the war, a diversity of school, synagogue, and camp programs reinforced Jewish identity.

Synagogue school programs expanded and new Jewish day schools opened in the postwar decades. Teenage social life revolved around Jewish fraternities, sororities, and Zionist youth groups during the 1950s and 1960s. Summer camps provided an opportunity for girls and boys to explore the great outdoors, make new friends, and learn Jewish values. Rituals like bar and bat mitzvah and confirmation marked Jewish milestones.

Hebrew Academy photo

1944: Founders of the Hebrew Academy of Washington believed that an Orthodox Jewish day school would produce good Jews and good Americans. Half of the school day was dedicated to secular courses; the other half to Hebrew, Torah, and Jewish history and ethics.

Courtesy of the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy.

yearbook of Cooperative Jewish Children’s School

1960: From 1947 to 1966, the Cooperative Jewish Children’s School of Greater Washington appealed to parents who were not religiously observant. Classes focused on Jewish history and culture.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Ruth Pinkson. 1994.22

Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

1972: The Jewish Day School of Greater Washington, later renamed for supporter Charles E. Smith, made a commitment to providing Jews of all religious traditions and backgrounds with a strong Jewish as well as secular education. In 1977 the school moved to Rockville, close to other Jewish community agencies.

JHSGW Collections.

two sons of Rabbi Bash

1977: Alan and Jeremy Bash, first-grade students at the Jewish Day School of Greater Washington and sons of Rabbi Marvin Bash of Arlington-Fairfax Jewish Congregation, practice blowing the shofar in preparation for the High Holidays.

JHSGW Collections. Photograph by Ida Jervis. Gift of Ida Jervis, 1998.58

Gesher Day school

1982: Gesher Jewish Day School opened as a kindergarten housed at Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria, Virginia. The school soon outgrew its original space and in 1994 moved to the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia. Here, the kindergarten class participates in a Sabbath program with Rabbi Sheldon Elster and teacher Susan Koss.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Rabbi Sheldon and Shulamith Elster. 2005.9

Ben Stein bar mitzvah invite

1957: Formal engraved invitations, such as this 1957 invitation to Ben Stein’s bar mitzvah at Montgomery County Jewish Community, invited friends and family to celebrate. Stein later became a speechwriter for President Nixon, an actor, and a game show host.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Penny Feuerzeig. 2002.5

bat mitzvah photo

1985: Traditionally, Jewish boys have celebrated their coming of age by reading publicly from the Torah when they turn 13. In the mid-20th century, Reform and Conservative congregations began offering comparable celebrations for girls. Stephanie Drazin, shown here with her mother Annette Drazin and grandmother Elizabeth Gossin, became a bat mitzvah at Har Shalom Congregation in Potomac.

Courtesy of Stephanie Drazin Silverstein.

confirmation photo

1960s: First established in Reform congregations in the late 19th century, confirmation for 15- and 16-year-old-Jewish boys and girls encourages the continuation of Jewish education past bar and bat mitzvah age. Here, Rabbi Tzvi Porath poses with a confirmation class at Ohr Kodesh Congregation in Chevy Chase.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Rabbi Tzvi and Esther Porath. 2003.15

Camp Moshava photo

1940s: The Zionist youth group Habonim bought a 287-acre farm near Annapolis that became Camp Moshava, seen here (camper Leo Cohen in foreground). Jewish girls and boys learned skills like carpentry and camping, needed to live life on a kibbutz in Israel. As adults, most did not move to Israel for kibbutz life, but many retained strong ties to the Jewish state.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Shirley Cohen. 1998.47

Kaufmann camp

1960: Located on the Chesapeake Bay near Plum Point, Maryland, Kaufmann Camp served over 20,000 Jewish children from Washington between 1952 and 1984. Here, camp director Dr. Phil Fox leads campers in Friday evening services in the Recreation Hall.

JHSGW Collections

Camp Louise snapshot

1960: Camper Janice Goldblum took this snapshot of nearby Fort Ritchie during her first summer at Camp Louise. For more than 80 years, Camps Airy and Louise in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains have combined swimming, hiking, and crafts with Jewish learning and Shabbat services for campers from the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., area.

Courtesy of Janice Goldblum.

Hebrew Academy photo
yearbook of Cooperative Jewish Children’s School
Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School
two sons of Rabbi Bash
Gesher Day school
Ben Stein bar mitzvah invite
bat mitzvah photo
confirmation photo
Camp Moshava photo
Kaufmann camp
Camp Louise snapshot