I was in my local Staples today buying two items I needed and six items that I will never use but they make everything look so appealing. As I dropped my far-too-full basket onto the cashier’s desk, he said, “Hello, Mr. Blankstein.” After turning around to see if my father was standing behind me but not seeing him, I realized that the cashier was talking to me. He stuck out his hand to shake mine and said, “I am Tevi*, I was at Rashi two years behind Zach [my now high school senior son].”
“Oh yes, nice to see you. How long have you worked here…” and then we were interrupted by the mother of a 6-year-old whom I had just seen throwing a tantrum in aisle seven because they didn’t have any “fancy pink” Play-Doh.
“Did you say you went to Rashi?” she asked. Being an alumni-parent of two Rashi graduates and a former member of the Development Committee, I was instantly excited. “Yes, I went K-8,” the cashier said, and I quickly added, “Do you have children there?”
What I learned in the next two-and-a-half minutes was that the woman, her husband, and their three kids under six had moved from Back Bay to Newton for the schools, and I presume a backyard. They were introduced to Rashi through a neighbor and were excited to have just received a letter of acceptance for their oldest daughter, the Play-Doh queen.
Tevi, as if he had attended a Prizmah Atidenu training, said, “Send them to Rashi. It is amazing. Not only did I make great friends, learn a lot, and my whole class went to Israel, but I have such a strong Jewish identity. When I graduated and went to Newton North, I was so ahead of everyone else.”
I want to call out that this former JDS student just hit on the three most important factors prospective parents care about: community, strong Jewish identity, and being prepared for the next academic step. There wasn’t much else to add except that I would be happy to share my family’s JDS experience if she wanted to talk with an alumni family.
What started off as a polite hello may just end up sending three more kids to a Jewish day school. Recruitment happens everywhere. Always be prepared.
*Name changed because I didn’t ask him if I could write about this.