As the 2022-2023 school year kicks off, Brandeis is flush with rosy-cheeked students abuzz with excitement to see their friends, share stories of summer adventures, and settle into the rhythms of the fall. Many students eagerly await familiar rituals like blowing the shofar on the bluetop on the first day of school, which marks the start of the year and all of its promise.
For some of our students, their first day at Brandeis is also the beginning of something new they will have in common with one of their parents. This fall we are delighted to welcome a number of students who will be the second generation of their family to attend our school.
For alumni, reconnecting with Brandeis during the application process can prompt some predictable nostalgia, but it often leads to expressions of profound appreciation for what was an impactful time in their lives. For Naomi Horton-Vienna '98, it was important that her daughter Lucy ’31 develop a solid foundation in Judaism in order to understand more about her identity and her family’s history. Naomi remarked, “Brandeis gave that to me in a way that changed and shaped who I am. I am forever grateful for that experience.” Naomi is already looking forward to the many ways her daughter will build on their family traditions by bringing home the lessons she learns in school.
Another common theme is the desire for their children to be surrounded by the same supportive teachers our alumni knew as Brandeis students years ago. Kindergarten parent Ariela Morgenstern ‘92 reflected, “It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to have my child go to Brandeis, where, as a student, I absorbed the creativity, self-expression, and Jewish values that I still cherish. I want Lilah to be surrounded by teachers who will spark a love of learning in her, which is what Brandeis provided for me.” Ariela told us that her return to the Brandeis campus this past spring rekindled warm memories of beloved faculty and staff, who went out of their way to foster an environment of acceptance and belonging.
The extended Brandeis community is a support system that enriches the educational experience for students and sustains families in joyful and challenging times. We come to know each other through the many events that take place on campus, at practices and games, performances, birthday parties, holidays, and scores of other gatherings that keep our calendars full. Relationships evolve over many years at Brandeis and seed connections that extend into the greater Bay Area Jewish community and beyond. Talya Kesselman Brass ‘94, has told her daughter Sara, a new student in the Class of 2025, so many stories about her time at Brandeis. “It is exciting for us to enroll the next generation of our family at Brandeis. The San Francisco Jewish community is incredibly unique, and Brandeis is at the heart of what makes it so special. We are proud to invest in this school and continue to watch it flourish.”
The Brandeis experience is one that creates a legacy of strong values and the knowledge that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. It is especially meaningful when our alumni return to us with children of their own! Welcome back Naomi, Ariela, and Talya! We are so happy to have you back!
Do you know of other alumni families who would enjoy being featured in this newsletter, if so please let us know!