Motti Wilhelm

The Magic of Jewish Preschools

A Child at The Gan - Portland Jewish Preschool attempts to blow the Shofar.
A Child at The Gan - Portland Jewish Preschool attempts to blow the Shofar.

I am fortunate to work in the magical space of Jewish preschools. As I move throughout my day, I have the privilege of hearing the songs, absorbing the scents, and witnessing the interactions that shape the future of our people.

Choosing a preschool is often one of the significant lifestyle decisions a young couple makes. They carefully weigh their values and priorities, while considering cost, proximity, the school calendar, and the community they aspire to join.

The impact of Jewish Preschools is profound:

The Child: Jewish preschool offers an immersive, multi-sensory experience that leaves an indelible impression. The sights of Shabbat, the sounds of “Aleph Bet Vet,” and the sensory delights of Challah baking have shaped our people for millennia.

The Home: When a child brings home Challah (if it doesn’t get eaten in the car!), Shabbat enters their home. The Menorah from Chanukah and the Seder plate from Pesach have the same effect. Many parents share videos of their children singing Dayeinu during a bubble bath or photos of them preparing to light candles.

The Community: During the crucial formative years of young family development, a preschool becomes their community. Suddenly, they find themselves attending 15-20 Sunday birthday parties a year with the same group of families. The connections forged between these families can last for years. This summer alone, Mimi and I received invitations to the Bar & Bat Mitzvahs of multiple preschool graduates.

The Jewish People: For many young families, Jewish preschool serves as a gateway to Jewish life and community. The connections, resources, friends, and traditions formed guide them on the path of continued Jewish involvement.


Dear Parents: When selecting a preschool, recognize the added value of a Jewish space. While the cost aligns with local preschools of excellence, you’ll receive much more than childcare. You’ll become part of a community that shares the values you want your children to hold dear. You’ll create enduring Jewish memories – not only for your child, but also for yourselves and your extended family.

Dear Philanthropists: Investing in Jewish preschools is among your most impactful choices. With deeply committed parents and children attending daily, the influence extends across multiple generations. To maintain their standard of excellence while welcoming children from diverse financial backgrounds, your support is essential. Funding is needed for tuition aid and security. Your assistance makes a meaningful difference.

I feel blessed to work in the magical space of Jewish preschools, and I extend an invitation to you. Whether as a parent, grandparent, volunteer, or supporter, you too can experience this magic.

About the Author
Rabbi Motti Wilhelm received his diploma of Talmudic Studies from the Rabbinical College of Australia & New Zealand in 2003 and was ordained as a rabbi by the Rabbinical College of America and Israel’s former chief Rabbi Mordecha Eliyahu in 2004. He was the editor of Kovetz Ohelei Torah, a respected Journal of Talmudic essays. He lectures on Talmudic Law, Medical Ethics and a wide array of Jewish subjects and has led services in the United States, Canada, Africa and Australia. His video blog Rabbi Motti's Minute is highly popular as are his weekly emails. Rabbi Wilhelm and his wife Mimi lead Chabad SW Portland as Shluchim of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
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