In His Own Words...
PJA Alum, Elliot A., spoke as a 7th grader at PJA's 48th Annual Auction - Bali Chai.
Here's Elliot's version of why it's so important to support PJA.
Thank you Elliot! In so many ways, you make us all PJA PROUD!
"Hello everyone. I am honored to be here today to talk to you during this Mitzvah Moment. Thank you for coming to this auction and helping to make it possible for kids like me to get a wonderful Jewish education.
Not only have I personally attended PJA for 11 years, but both my brothers before me, now 19 and 17 years old, attended from kindergarten all the way through 8th grade—that makes this my family’s 15th consecutive year at PJA. Without scholarships from the school none of us would have benefited from the school’s excellent academic program.
The other day our class had a great discussion in Jewish Studies. The discussion was about Divine Providence. We talked about anecdotes that might prove or disprove the existence of a Master Plan, and discussed chance and coincidence vs Divine Providence. It was an interesting, engaging and exciting conversion involving the entire class.
PJA is my second home. I practically grew up here. I don’t feel as though I need to conform to others. People are free to express their individuality without fear of being put down or shunned. The teaching of Kavod, the concept of respect for others and their beliefs, is a major part of the PJA experience. When others accept your ideas, it creates a feeling of trust, and in turn, a better learning environment.
Another PJA objective is the teaching of Tikkun Olam, repair of the world. We’ve picked up litter, removed invasive species, held food drives, and taken concrete steps to make PJA a greener community. Currently, there’s a sock drive, and last week, in science, we went on a field study to a nearby wildlife area known as the Texas Wetlands. We monitored the turbidity of the water, the temperature and the dissolved oxygen levels. We will continue to monitor these levels so we can make sure that wildlife habitat doesn’t turn into wasteland. If the levels do get too high, we will remove dead leaves or plant new plants to protect the wildlife. This is just one way we practice tikkun olam.
As many of you may know, PJA was Oregon’s only 2004 blue ribbon school. When I talk with my peers from other schools about what they are learning, I always feel that I am ahead of them in terms of academics. PJA creates such a positive environment for learning, kids really want to learn: We don’t just feel that we have to be here because it’s required.
I have had several stellar years at PJA. Fifth grade teacher Jim Juntenen helped me to understand how I learned best. I was so curious that year. He allowed me to ask questions that were far out and gave me free rein. I felt like I learned two years in just one year—a truly amazing feat! Even our former librarian played an active role in my development as a thinker, challenging me in discussions about current affairs and life in general.
This year has already proven yet another great year. In humanities, Ms. Brewer has helped me take my writing to a whole new level while introducing our class to Greek and Roman cultures. I have waited and waited since 3rd grade to have Mr. Minato as my science teacher. I was so happy to finally be in his class this year because both my brothers used to rave about him. Well, he hasn’t disappointed. When I am in his class, I feel as though the information he is teaching flows right into my head and settles there so I can’t forget it. The passion he displays for science is totally irresistible. He makes me want to learn.
PJA’s Jewish Studies curriculum was the main reason my parents sent my brothers and me to this school. I doubt that you could get a Jewish education like the one I have received anywhere else in all of Oregon. The Jewish studies program at PJA makes it very easy to learn and understand the concepts behind a Jewish way of life. Being Jewish isn’t just about having faith in G-d; a major part of being a Jew is acting like a mensch, doing what is right and respecting everyone’s personal beliefs, religion and way of life.
Finally, I just want to thank the PJA (and my parents for sending me here), for a great Jewish education and to ask you to help this school continue its legacy of excellence in education. I stand before you a beneficiary of the PJA scholarship program. Please help send more Jewish children like me to PJA, not only to receive a great education, but to learn how to be a Jew."