Kehila Heschel celebrates its 25th year in Hamilton

April 2024
Julia Kollek

Twenty-five years ago, five children began a school year together, taking part in a dream to create a new kind of Jewish day school in our city. Everyone said it would never happen. But it did.

Years in the planning, a group of parents became inspired to seek out the most current and successful models of education for their children. They travelled across North America, visiting schools and attending conferences. 

That school evolved again in 2018 when Kehila joined the The Abraham Joshua Heschel school family, which continues to set the benchmark across the continent for high-ranking Jewish day school education.

Over the years, more than 100 students have graduated from the school, many continuing to stay in touch and share a love of learning. One parent expressed gratitude for Kehila. She related how her son was in Grade 1 the year the school opened. He loved the science program and went on to become an astrophysicist and mathematician who was hired by NASA straight out of university. Public school had been a tense place for him, but at Kehila he began to love learning.

A current parent noted how they could clearly picture their child growing intellectually and feeling valued as a person at the school. As in the early days, today’s Kehila students can’t wait to get to school in the morning. It’s where the cross-disciplinary curriculum blends the everyday with Jewish education seamlessly and creatively: and where each child’s learning style is respected.

The school takes every opportunity to create a rich and active learning experience, welcoming families from the full spectrum of Jewish life. Students are engaged and eager to absorb our traditions and to apply these concepts beyond the classroom. 

The trilingual program includes French as well as Hebrew, and with Churchill Park on the doorstep, the children enjoy a eco/outdoor education.Kehila has reached the top Platinum status as an internationally recognized eco-school.  

At Pesach, students help prepare and take part in the school’s model seder. Aside from reading together in Hebrew the journey from slavery to freedom, they also discuss the importance of democracy and freedom of speech.

To mark Kehila’s 25 years—and to build for the future—the school has launched a celebratory fundraising campaign with the help of past and current parents and staff. With the situation in Israel in mind, the aim is also to contribute support to the rebuilding of the children’s playground and youth centre at Kibbutz Kissufim, one of 20 communities attacked on Oct. 7, as a way to strengthen the connection between Kehila’s students and those in Israel.

A school reunion is planned for Sunday, June 9, a chance for past, present and future Kehila families, educators, staff and community supporters to get together. Graduates (some from that first pioneering class) will be invited to celebrate the past and usher in our exciting future. Visit for more information.