The Schechter Day School Network
Formation1965
Typeorganization of Jewish day schools that identify with Conservative Judaism
Purposeto promote: "the continued growth and vitality of its member schools, which serve a broad Jewish population and are characterized by Conservative thought and practice, high academic achievement and social responsibility, in a culture of joyous spiritual engagement, caring and community."
Headquarters820 Second Avenue, New York, New York 10017
Formerly called
the Solomon Schechter Day School Association

The Schechter Day School Network, formerly the Solomon Schechter Day School Association, located at 820 Second Avenue, New York, New York, is an organization of Jewish day schools that identify with Conservative Judaism.[1][2] The network provides guidance and resources for its member schools in the United States and Canada.

Mission and functions

The express mission of the network is to promote:

the continued growth and vitality of its member schools, which serve a broad Jewish population and are characterized by Conservative thought and practice, achievement and social responsibility, in a culture of joyous spiritual engagement, caring and community.

The Association of Solomon Schechter Day Schools dates back to 1965, created as part of an effort to create standards and promote cooperation between the existing Conservative day schools and promote the establishment of new schools.[3]

Among the network's major achievements is the publication, in conjunction with the Melton Research Center, of the MaToK curriculum for the teaching of Torah in elementary schools that combines the commitment to tradition, Hebrew language, and inquiry.[4]

The network provides mentoring for new school heads; a fellowship that helps place a recent recipient of a rabbinical degree or graduate degree in Jewish education into an educational leadership position in one of the Schechter schools; placement services; consultation in such areas as the teaching of prayer; regional conferences on educational subjects for teachers and administrators; and support for curricular and marketing initiatives.

History

Solomon Schechter at work in Cambridge University Library, studying the fragments of the Cairo Geniza, c. 1898

The Brandeis School, in Lawrence, Nassau County, New York—one of the founding members of the Solomon Schechter association in 1965—was founded in 1930 by Rabbi Irving Miller as the Jewish Center School. It adopted its current name in 1945.[5] Beth El Day School in Rockaway Park, Queens opened in 1951.[6] During the 1950s and 1960s, additional schools opened throughout the country as parents began to seek schools that combined high general academic standards, authentic Jewish study and life, and open intellectual inquiry in all areas of study.

The first schools to adopt the name of Rabbi Solomon Schechter, the founder of Conservative Judaism in its 20th century form, were the Solomon Schechter School of Queens, New York City[7] and the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Philadelphia (since renamed as Perelman Jewish Day School).[8]

In 1966, Solomon Schechter School of Westchester opened in White Plains, New York. The Solomon Schechter School of Nassau County began in 1967 and later became The Solomon Schechter School Long Island.[9] The Hillel Day School in Farmington Hills, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2007.

The first Schechter school on the West Coast of the United States was Akiba Academy in Los Angeles, brought into existence in 1968 by a loose coalition of rabbis and leaders of several congregations.[10] As additional day schools opened in Los Angeles, it merged with its host congregation, Sinai Temple, and became known as Sinai Akiba Academy.

Also well known are the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston (located in Newton, Massachusetts, founded in 1961 and currently enrolling over 500 students); the Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan; and Perelman Academy in Philadelphia. Canada's only Solomon Schechter Day School is located in Montreal and was founded in 1955.

By 1968, a high school in Brooklyn, New York was opened. Today there are approximately 50 Solomon Schechter Day Schools, including several high schools. Despite the dropping numbers of Conservative Jews worldwide, some of the Solomon Schechter Schools have continued to increase their number of students. One such school is Golda Och Academy, formerly known as the Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union (NJ), which has over 800 students enrolled and has grown steadily since its founding in 1965. The school is also one of the largest, consisting of two campuses, an Upper and Lower School, both located in West Orange, New Jersey.

Solomon Schechter School of Westchester opened a new upper school campus in Hartsdale, New York, in 2001. The school now also has two campuses, both in Westchester, with more than 900 students in grades K-12. The school disaffiliated when the Schecter and Prizmah systems merged, and renamed itself a few years later to The Leffell School.[11][12]

From 1993 to 2012 the network lost a third of its schools, as total enrollment dropped from 17,500 to 11,300 over the two decades. As of 2012, the Schechter Day School Network announced that it was considering seeking independence from the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism so that the network and its 45 schools would be able to raise funds independently, with options of joining the RAVSAK network also considered as an option.[13]

In 2016 the Schechter Day School Network became part of Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools, a new organization encompassing five day school groups from different Jewish denominations.[14] However, this led to the exit of some schools.[11]

References

  1. ^ Nadell, Pamela Susan. Conservative Judaism in America: A Biographical Dictionary and Sourcebook, p. 345. ABC-CLIO, 1988. ISBN 0313242054. Accessed March 20, 2013.
  2. ^ "Contact Us | Schechter Day School Network". Schechternetwork.org. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  3. ^ History, Schechter Day School Network. Accessed March 20, 2013.
  4. ^ MaToK, the Bible Curriculum for Jewish Day Schools Archived July 30, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Accessed March 20, 2013.
  5. ^ "The Brandeis School: Our History" Accessed September 7, 2020.
  6. ^ Goldman, Ari L. "Rabbi Robert Gordis, 83, Dies; Defined Conservative Judaism", The New York Times, January 7, 1992. Accessed March 20, 2013. "For more than three decades, ending with his retirement in 1968, Dr. Gordis also served as the rabbi of Temple Beth El of Rockaway Park, Queens, where he established the first Conservative Jewish day school."
  7. ^ Staff. "Solomon Schechter School Dedicates New Playground", Western Queens Gazette, November 15, 2006. Accessed March 20, 2013. "Launched in 1956, the Solomon Schechter School of Queens was the first Conservative Jewish day school in North America. Today, the school is part of a flourishing network of 72 Solomon Schechter Schools in the United States and Canada."
  8. ^ Gotlieb, Andy. "Picnic Begins 60th Anniversary Celebration for Perelman Jewish Day School", The Jewish Exponent, September 23, 2016. Accessed March 15, 2023. "Still, it’s come a long way since Perelman was founded in 1956 as the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Philadelphia with 39 students in the basement of Har Zion Temple."
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ Staff. "Sinai Akiba Academy Lower School Director Receives $15,000 Milken Jewish Educator Award", Reuters, November 5, 2009. Accessed March 20, 2013. "A Solomon Schechter Conservative Jewish day school established in 1968, Sinai Akiba Academy draws on the rich traditions of Jewish heritage to offer a powerful, academic environment that focuses on developing a joyous appreciation of learning, as well as a positive Jewish identity that embraces a reverence for tradition."
  11. ^ a b "The Leffell School Who We Are The Leffell School". www.leffellschool.org. Retrieved January 8, 2024. 2016: 50th Anniversary Celebration: Schechter Westchester celebrated 50 years of providing a quality, values-based Jewish day school education to thousands of children and a warm, supportive community for its families.

    2019: New Name, Same Heart: On July 1, Solomon Schechter School of Westchester became The Leffell School, honoring the extraordinary leadership, commitment, and generosity of Lisa and Michael Leffell. While the school's former affiliation with the Schechter Day School Network ended in 2016, when it merged into Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools, we have retained the distinctive set of Jewish values and principles for which the school has become known since its founding.

    From About Us - History section, last two panels:
  12. ^ "Solomon Schechter School of Westchester Plans Name Change". Jewish Link. April 7, 2019. Archived from the original on April 7, 2019. Retrieved January 8, 2024.
  13. ^ Zeveloff, Naomi. "Will Schechter Schools Leave Conservatives?Troubled System Seeks New Path as USCJ Focuses on Shuls", The Forward, July 13, 2012. Accessed March 23, 2013.
  14. ^ Gary Rosenblatt, "Rare sense of optimism at national day school conference", New Jersey Jewish News, February 8, 2017.

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