As Hannah Reinstein reflects on her formative education at Sinai Akiba, she keeps coming back to two big ideas. “The community at the school was so wonderful,” she says, “and it was especially effective in terms of reinforcing continuity.”
Building networks of like-minded peers, and maintaining a commitment to Jewish practice and tradition, continue to be defining themes for Reinstein and are particularly relevant in her adult life as she advances her career in social work and starts a family of her own.
Reinstein looks back fondly on Sinai Akiba as “very safe and comfortable” – an environment, she says, that enabled her to forge lasting friendships with people who are still close friends today. She notes that the sense of community fostered inside the school also extended beyond the classroom: “My parents’ best friends became – and still are – the parents of the kids I went to school with,” she says.
Opportunities to connect to her Jewish identity and heritage were high points for Reinstein during her Sinai Akiba years. “I remember loving Jewish holiday assemblies. I felt so immersed in Jewish culture,” she says. “I was a teaching assistant at the School five years ago, and they were still singing the same Hanukkah songs. Repetition and continuity pay off!”
A critical aspect of that emphasis on continuity was learning about the importance of tikkun olam. “Sinai Akiba made tikkun olam fun,” Reinstein says. “It was great to be able to do it with my friends, and to understand that helping others and having fun can go hand in hand.”
It was a lesson that resonated for Reinstein, who is now a social worker in a hospice setting. “I love what I do because every visit feels like a mitzvah,” she says.
At Sinai Akiba, Reinstein also recalls a focus on creativity – a novel approach to academics that resulted in maximum impact. “It was either in 7th or 8th Grade that we had an egg drop contest during a science fair,” she says. “It was a competition to see what could fall and not splatter from different floors.” For a unit on Egyptian history, her class did a museum walkthrough. “We then created our own exhibit, and the whole school came to visit,” she says.
Reinstein says it was the teachers who brought every lesson to life. “Frida Eytan, Rivka Shaked and Ahoova Zeffren were amazing educators and people,” she says. “And Mr. Glorioso was phenomenal.”
When Reinstein met her husband, Yossi, it was the common background of Jewish day school that helped bring them together. “He went to a Schechter Day School in Boston,” she says. “Even though we’re from opposite ends of the country, we grew up similarly.” The couple hope to pass along those shared, day school-inspired values to their own children: They welcomed a baby this winter.