History of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School
In the early 1960s, a group of dedicated lay and educational leaders in the local Jewish community recognized a growing need for a Conservative day school. In 1965, "with more nerve than common sense,” pioneers including Rabbi Zvi Porath, Joseph Mendelson, Caryl Holiber, Paul Berger, and Roberta Milgram founded the first Solomon Schechter Day School in the Washington area. The school began with seven students taught by Masha Spiegel and Masha Cohen (z'l) meeting in space borrowed from what is now Ohr Kodesh Congregation.
In 1977, the school moved to 1901 E. Jefferson Street, the current location of our Lower School. Three years later our School was named for Charles E. Smith (1901-1995) in recognition of his extraordinary contributions and fundraising activities on behalf of the School. He believed that the survival of Judaism depends on educating Jewish youth, and he worked tirelessly to ensure the future of that vision.
CESJDS’s history encompasses more than 50 years! Visit this interactive timeline to learn about more milestones in our school’s history