The idea was to make our history relevant to our present and our future.
Columbus Jewish Day School opened its doors to students in 1998. But the idea for the school was born several years before, in 1993, in the minds of the school’s two visionary founders, Tobi Gold and Danny Kayne.
Tobi and Danny noticed the Jewish community of Columbus was missing a key resource and institution while they were members of an early cohort of the Wexner Heritage Program’s communal leadership education, which proved to be a pivotal experience. They realized that Columbus had no full time educational option for Jewish families who yearned for a progressive education and an equally progressive Jewish education. They set about traveling around the country to study models of Jewish day schools to inspire and inform what they wished to innovate for Columbus.
Their search was oriented by the key overarching question that continues to animate the school’s mission to this day, “How can we best provide students with an excellent secular education in addition to a great Jewish education, without compartmentalizing the content or bifurcating the students’ experience?”
After visiting Heschel Day School in Manhattan, their minds, hearts and spirits had been captured. They remember thinking, “Wow, here is a way you can teach math and Hebrew. You could be Jewish the whole day and not compartmentalize the secular from the Judaism. And the light went off for us.”
The idea of offering a powerfully integrated education for a wide range of Jewish children from diverse backgrounds, that would help them view the world holistically through Jewish lenses, became a reality. In fall of 1998, the school opened at its Temple Israel site, then at Noe Bixby Road. A year later, the school expanded and moved into a building leased from New Albany school district. A decade later in fall of 2009 -- thanks to a very generous gift of land from Leslie and Abigail Wexner -- CJDS partnered with the Jewish Community Center’s pre-school and moved into a beautiful new building, where it currently resides, on a seven-acre site with trails, wetlands, and a pond.