Dear Yavneh Community,
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of beloved Yavneh teacher, parent, and alumna, Jenessa Schwartz.
Jenessa was a colon cancer thriver, exceeding survival expectations seven years longer than her initial diagnosis. You can read about her cancer journey in her blog. Her writing helped her students, family, community, and countless others learn how to live life fully and with compassion.
Jenessa graduated from Yavneh in 1993 and returned to Yavneh as a teacher in 2015. Her dedication to her students, creating confident writers, critical thinkers, and compassionate human beings, has always been the centerpiece of her educational practice. While officially she was our Middle School ELA teacher and eventual Dean of Middle School, she was also a brilliant Jewish educator. In 2022, she was awarded the Ruby Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. She previously taught in Brooklyn, New York, and at West Valley Middle School. Jenessa then became Director of Jewish Life at the APJCC and in 2015 returned to Yavneh.
Her impact on and commitment to her students and community, current and past, is beyond measure.
Jenessa is remembered by her children, Ramona and Solly, her husband Trevor, her parents Cyndi Sherman (Steve Schleimer) and Allan Schwartz, and her co-parents, Michael Hawkins and Brittany Atkinson.
We will be closing school on Friday, November 3rd, in order to allow our staff to attend the funeral and to grieve for their friend and colleague. The funeral will be held at 8:30am on Friday, November 3rd in the APJCC Auditorium.
The first shiva service will be held at Congregation Beth David (19700 Prospect Rd, Saratoga, CA 95070) at 7:15 pm on Saturday evening, November 4th. Subsequent shiva minyanim will be held at Cyndi and Steve’s home from Sunday, November 5th, to Thursday, November 9th. Please enquire at the front office for address details.
We will be bringing professionals from KARA, a grief support group based in Palo Alto, to come and work with our students and staff.
Shortly before her passing, Jenessa expressed her deep gratitude to you, her Yavneh community, for having held her and her family in safety, care, and comfort these past seven years since her diagnosis. She has asked for tribute donations to Yavneh to honor her memory.
Yehi Zichra Baruch. May her memory be for a blessing.
Danielle Sapiens, Principal
Jamie Zimmer, Director of Jewish Life and Learning