Amy Gold, head of school at Cohen Hillel Academy in Marblehead,had good reason to smile.
“I was speechless,” she said. “I just couldn’t stop smiling.”
It’s not unusual for a wealthy donor to give a large amount of money to a school. It is rare, however,when that school is a K-8 independent Jewish academy with just 60 students.
Yet, on Thursday, the academy announced it had received a $5 million gift from longtime benefactor Arthur J. Epstein.
“Arthur has been committed to providing an outstanding education for many years,” Gold said. “With this gift, he wants to help us run the school the way we should.”
The school’s mission is to “provide a comprehensive education that remains grounded in Judaism while instilling a commitment to social justice and giving back to the community in all students,” Gold said.
The donation, which amounts to a little more than $83,000 per student, comes with no strings attached. The school can use it however it likes
“It’s a lot of money, but we’re not going to use it to build a swimming pool,” Gold said. “Right now, the focus is on increasing enrollment, getting our students access to the best technology, and developing a new curriculum.”
“We hope our new logo — we redid it last year— and our investment in new technology will show the community how devoted we are to giving every student an outstanding education. Every student from fourth grade and up has an iPad. Our faculty has new laptops. It’s all part of our new curriculum,” Gold said.
For the school, the impact of the gift is immeasurable.
“It’s a chance for a new vision of the school,” Gold said. “One where our students have a lifelong love of learning and their communities. That’s something Arthur would want.”
Epstein is known for his charitable contributions across the North Shore. He has supported organizations such as Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Congregation Shirat Hayam, and Cohen Hillel Academy.
In 2012, he received the Dr. Bennett I. Solomon Community Leadership Award for his support of the Cohen Hillel’s Learning Center and tuition-assistance programs.
But this week’s gift is by far the largest.
To recognize his generosity, the school will be renamed The Arthur J. Epstein School this summer.
For Gold and the students however, the gift means much more than a name change.
“We are extraordinarily grateful,” said Gold. “I was so thrilled for the school and the kids. This gift demonstrates Arthur’s commitment to maintaining an independent Jewish school for generations to come.”Andrew Grant can be reached at email@example.com.