When we think of Anita Stieglitz, we think of passion. We think of the way she approached her teaching, her music and her causes with zeal and depth. Not for glamour or glory, Stieglitz was out to teach children, share music, support Israel and during that era free Soviet Jewry.
Stieglitz taught at Denver Jewish Day School for nearly 20 years, until just two weeks before her death, even though she was suffering from acute lung disease. In the upper division Judaic studies, she taught Jewish history, culture, thought, Israel and Israel advocacy. Bryan Hay, head of the DJDS upper division, called her a teacher that alumni credit with not only teaching them well but changing their lives.
Anita Stieglitz symbolized the best of old school educational standards. Commonplace in yeshivas not so much in day schools Stieglitz insisted that her students stand when she entered the room, and remain standing until she sat down or instructed them to do so. She demanded and received the respect befitting a teacher. Bryan Hay said he never heard a word of complaint from students regarding this traditional sensibility.
An accomplished musician, she also played music for the lower divisions Kabbalat Shabbat assemblies and led the school choir.
She shared her love of music with the students of Denver Academy of Torah, too. This past Wednesday, DAT dedicated the day to Torah study in memory of this beloved music teacher. For Morah Anita, teaching at DAT was not just about the teaching or the classes. She loved each and every child and took a special and personal interest in each of them. She was genuine, sincere and loving, DAT said in a statement.
What more could parents want from a teacher for their child?
Anita Stieglitz was not one to seek the spotlight, but three years ago, she modestly accepted a national Grinspoon-Stenhardt Award for Excellence in Jewish Education, at a CAJE luncheon in Denver.
The word passion also applies to her support for Israel and other causes of importance to the Jewish people. She was involved in the communitys annual Yom Hazikaron (Israel Memorial Day) ceremony honoring Israels military dead and terror victims.
In the 1970s and 80s, she fought for the freedom of Jews to leave the Soviet Union. Through marriage, she was related to the most famous refusenik Natan Sharansky, but we have a feeling that even if she were not, Anita Stieglitz would have applied her characteristic passion to help correct that blight in the world at the time.
With the passing of Anita Stieglitz, we have lost yet another personality and force within our community with that sterling quality of passion that enables us to survive. Through the lessons and songs she taught her students, her thread will long remain an intricate part of the fabric of Denver Jewry.
Copyright © 2012 by the Intermountain Jewish News