From Mexico to Miami: Spotlight on Sara Bejar, GMJF/CAJE Day School Committee Co-Chair
Posted on 07/19/2020 @ 08:00 AM
Born and raised in Mexico City, Sara Rayek Bejar has always held her Jewish values and traditions close to her heart . According to Sara, Mexico City boasts one of the largest and best Jewish communities in the world, of which Sara and her family were proud to be a part.
When Sara was growing up, Jewish day schools did not have the same academic reputation they do today. Her mother, who was strict when it came to education, placed Sara in an American school, which was highly respected at the time and attended by many Jewish children.
Sara got married in Mexico at the young age of 19 and has 2 children, Eugenia and Yomtov. In 2001, when they were four and two years old respectively, Sara and her husband, David, decided to immigrate to the United States. They first moved their family to San Diego, California, where they remained for 2 years, before ultimately moving to Miami, Florida.
Why are Jewish Day Schools so important to you?
In Mexico City, the community was much smaller, and you didn’t need to go to a Jewish day school in order to be connected Jewishly. But upon arriving to the United States, my husband and I felt it was crucial to send our children to a Jewish day school. We chose to enroll our children in Scheck Hillel Community School . Today, both of our children are proud alumni, and we consider the school like a second family.
For me, Jewish day schools are the most important part of a Jewish child’s upbringing. And one of the reasons I feel they are so important, especially in the United States, is because most American children move out of their homes to attend college. To my husband and me, one of the keys to keeping a child’s Jewishness alive after s/he leaves home is by giving them a Jewish education all the way through high school.
Why did you decide to become involved in the Miami Jewish community and with Federation?
First and foremost, I come from a family that has always been involved in community life , whether in Mexico City or here in Miami. In addition, my involvement in the Miami community was a way for my family to feel connected to something bigger.
I strongly feel that part of my mission is to help other Latin American Jews who are looking to be part of a community see that our Federation is the best option. By telling my story of involvement, I hope to motivate them to join and get more involved.
What roles have you held as part of Federation?
Over the past nine years, I have served Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy as its President, Campaign Chair, Executive Board member, Vice President of Education and Outreach, North Dade Chair, and Women’s Day Chair. Along with my husband, I have chaired The Pacesetter Event and continue to be a member of Federation’s Board of Directors, Israel and Overseas Committee, and its Human Resource Development Task Force. I am also a past recipient of the Sandra G. Goldstein Young Leadership Award and a very proud Lion of Judah benefactor of the Annual Federation/UJA Campaign. I was also the recipient of the Stanley C. Meyers Award.
What would you like to accomplish or see happen for day schools in Miami?
Because of my passion for Jewish day school education, I would love to find a way to make it more affordable to more families. It breaks my heart when a family has to remove their child from a day school for financial reasons. It shouldn’t happen. My goal is to make Jewish day schools affordable – for me, that’s key.
What do you think CAJE’s role should be with our community’s day schools?
I really believe that CAJE is a tremendous asset to day schools , not just for the grants and programs they provide but also for the professional development opportunities the teachers are able to take advantage of. I feel like more people should know the great work CAJE does . Maybe, next time teachers participate in a professional development workshop, they can tell their students about it and those students can tell their parents, and hopefully spread the word.