BP Photo by Eliana Kerendian

LANGUAGE: Ms. Anna Prager enjoys learning other languages and speaks Chinese.

New Jewish Lit. teacher gradually deepened her Jewish identity

Ms. Anna Prager, who grew up as the only Jew in her town and developed a passion for Judaism, Israel advocacy and teaching, plans to bring an individually focused style of teaching to her class at Shalhevet. 

Ms. Prager is teaching SAS Jewish Literature, which this year will use Jewish authors’ works – fiction & non-fiction – to explore Jewish women’s identity.  

She was born, raised and educated in Maine, attending Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, after growing up in the small town of York in the southern part of the state. She later earned a master’s degree in International Relations at the University of Chicago. She lived for a time in China and speaks Chinese, and also has worked in international advocacy for the American Jewish Committee.

But as a child, she did not have much affiliation with Judaism.

“I felt out of place without community and connection and I really yearned for that,” says Ms. Prager. “I went on Birthright and discovered what it’s like to be among other Jews and to share common values and history, and I realized that was something I wanted in my life.” 

After living in New York City, Tel-Aviv, I feel that there is something about the Los Angeles Jewish community that is so unique and you can’t get anywhere else.

— Ms. Anna Prager, English teacher

Then at Bates, she saw the conflict between Hillel and the opposing Justice and Peace for Palestine groups, which brought the Israel-Palestinian conflict into her own daily life. 

She wanted to become more active, but realized that her ability to stand up for Israel and fight antisemitism was limited. 

She soon found herself on a pro-Israel advocacy trip which, though she was unaware, was sponsored by Aish Hatorah.  

“While training to be a pro-Israel advocate, they also gave me a taste of what Orthodox Judaism was like,” Ms. Prager said. “I was really intrigued.”

She went on to study at the Chabad women’s seminary Mayanot in Jerusalem, then worked for the American Jewish Committee in international Jewish advocacy. In that role, she created curriculums and trained board members – and, she said, fell in love with teaching. 

After taking time off to focus on her three young children, Ms. Prager has now returned to what she enjoyed most, she said.

“I’m really trying to work to build strong relationships with my students and work with them as individuals,” Ms. Prager said. “As an English teacher I want my students to develop strong writing skills, and be able to express themselves through their writing and improve their analytical skills.”

Ms. Prager’s hobbies include hiking, traveling, yoga and learning other languages.

She said she and her husband decided to live in Los Angeles because of the Jewish community.

“After living in New York City, Tel-Aviv, I feel that there is something about the Los Angeles Jewish community that is so unique and you can’t get anywhere else.” 

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