We have had occasion to note on these pages recently the admirable track record of three Denver Jewish day schools reaching the half- century mark. It can be difficult for a newcomer, an upstart, if you will, to identify new needs and break into a well established scene. Yet this is what Denver Academy of Torah did 25 years ago. Our community is the stronger for it.
A small group of parents interested in another hue on the intensive Jewish day school spectrum set out to found a modern Orthodox, Zionist Jewish day school just over a quarter century ago. They had little more than a few potential students — their own children — and a vision. They also had the yeast necessary to bring a vision to fruition: commitment. The Denver Academy of Torah, 25 years later, has a long and strong track record of graduates who have gone on to advanced Jewish studies at yeshivas, seminaries and universities. Most of all, they have gone on to vibrant, proud, observant Jewish lives.
Any school has its ups and downs, but what stands out in DAT’s case is the overwhelming number of shining moments, outstanding teachers, accomplished students and creative administrators.
A great Jewish sociological truth was demonstrated when DAT was founded, and before it the Denver Jewish Day School: The addition of a new Jewish day school does not diminish the others. The pie is not limited. It is not sliced into ever smaller slices. The number of Jewish students reached by all of these schools combined is a very small percentage of the total number of Jewish youths in our community. Each school identifies a specific cohort and adds to the total overall Jewish literacy and commitment in our community.
Of course, there are, and always will be, a small number of families whose children could just as easily attend one school or the other. But on the whole, each new school on the Denver scene, with its own ideological orientation, expands the pie, such that today it is impossible to conceive of the intensive Jewish educational community in Denver without DAT.
In fact, DAT is filled to capacity. It is blessed with property on which to expand. In the meantime, a brief walk through its halls reveals a lot of good vibes — colorful, student-produced bulletin boards, student excitement and enthusiasm, a heartfelt minyan to start the day in reverence and prayer.
Everyone knows that the most important barometer of how a school is doing is whether the students look forward to coming to school. For 25 years, DAT has been meeting that high bar. We look forward to its next quarter century.
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