Every story must come to an end, and for the Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital’s chief storyteller, Ronit Greenstein, another chapter closed last month.
Greenstein, whose formal title was director of communications, stepped down in October after a decade at the school. In an email to the school community, Head of School Deborah Skolnick-Einhorn described Greenstein as “among our school’s most passionate advocates, while also serving as our archivist, cheerleader, and storyteller. Ronit took it upon herself to deeply understand the work happening in all nooks and crannies of the school and to share that with the world.”
“I had the good fortune to be at MILTON in an era of meteoric growth and historic change, an exhilarating opportunity for a storyteller,” Greenstein wrote in the same email.
She got involved at the pluralistic Jewish day school in the District in 2012, when her eldest daughter was enrolled in kindergarten. A semester later, Greenstein was hired as a communications manager. She later became director of communications.
The school was founded at Adas Israel in 1988 and became independent in 1999. The school purchased a building on 16th Street in 2002. When Greenstein joined the staff, the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital, as it was called, was about to buy a second building and add a middle school.
“I think many of us think of it as the little school that could,” Greenstein said. “It gives you an opportunity to wear many hats.”
Typically a behind-the-scenes person, Greenstein was behind the school’s rebranding. In 2017, the school received a $20 million gift from philanthropist Ambassador Alfred Moses and the family of the late philanthropist Milton Gottesman.
In the rebranding, the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital became the Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital — MILTON for short.
“I think that Milton is the type of school people have a strong connection to and have pride for,” Greenstein said. In the rebranding, “we wanted everybody to feel we retained our essence.”
To mark the school’s 30th anniversary, Greenstein was charged with creating a documentary about Milton. Along with producer Abigail Sharon and middle school director Lisa Schopf, Greenstein guided students in researching, lighting shots and conducting interviews for the program.
“It was just a really rewarding experience creatively.” Greenstein said. The documentary, “Coming Home,” showed in 2018 at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring.
“Change in an organization can lead to many things, but in these cases the community grew stronger and came together,” Greenstein said.
In the middle of the pandemic, Skolnick-Einhorn became head of school, succeeding Naomi Reem, who had led the school for 15 years. Greenstein calls them “brilliant, strong women that have a vision for the school.”
When the middle school opened, “a big part of my job was to usher in that change,” Greenstein said, “the idea that we are one school with two campuses.” Her elder daughter was part of the inaugural class.
Before her time at the Milton school, Greenstein held communications and marketing roles with big names like Disney, CNN and PBS. She taught Hebrew at Washington Hebrew Congregation and later headed their religious school programs.
“I’ve had opportunities to work with really talented people throughout my career,” she said.
When her younger daughter graduated from the Milton middle school and her elder daughter finished high school, Greenstein found herself at a reflection point. “I realized that I needed to make a professional change in order to grow.”
She hasn’t locked in what that change will be, but said, “I gravitate toward that which is purposeful, collaborative and communal. I suspect that’s the direction I’ll go in.”
Greenstein said her decade as the school’s storyteller has been a “wonderful opportunity.”“We’ve always been working at kind of a breathless pace.”