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COVID-19 Relief Stories: The Freyberg Family

Jewish Federation Helps the Freybergs From Pandemic Struggle to "Thriving"

Robin, Max and Zoe Freyberg celebrating Chanukah.

Last spring, pandemic restrictions turned the Freybergs’ home into a pressure cooker. Parents Zach Freyberg, MD, PhD, and Robin Freyberg, PhD, LSW, worked at home full-time. Their children Zoe (fifth grade) and Max (kindergarten) attended Community Day School (CDS) online.

The stress started with concern about computers. “We wondered if we’d have enough devices,” says Robin. Parental multitasking led to exhaustion: “Since spring Zach has been busier than ever. I work in an outpatient program that is bursting at the seams. Every free minute, I was either working or helping the kids,” Robin remembers. “There was no time to breathe.”

Despite Robin and Zach’s efforts, Max “totally fell behind” academically. Using a TV or iPad for entertainment did not help him socially. “Additional screen time on top of Zoom for school? Socially, Max missed his friends,” Robin remembers.

Fortunately, the Freybergs did not face their emergency alone.

Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh helped CDS and the other two day schools by providing funds to purchase much-needed laptops and tablets for student use, easing families’ concerns about device availability. “We were grateful to receive a school iPad,” Robin says. “We knew what apps were on it and that there weren’t things that would distract Max.”

Support for Youth & Families by the Numbers

A few of the many ways the Community Campaign has supported Jewish communities through the COVID-19 crisis.

That was only the beginning.  In addition to the laptops and tablets, Federation funding provided personal protective equipment and training that helped CDS and the other Pittsburgh Jewish day schools to reopen safely in fall 2020.

“We are so enormously grateful,” says Robin. “Having Zoe and Max in school has helped our family function at its best. School reopening helped me help my patients. Without Jewish Federation’s support of schools, my children would not be thriving.”

Because the Jewish Federation helped Max return to school, Max is thriving. “He’s happy,” says Robin. “He comes home and says, ‘I had a great day.’ It makes me feel great.”

Max and his classmates learning together in CDS' COVID-safe environment.

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