jlink
Wednesday, May 22, 2019

SSDS Head of School Ruth Gafni and incoming Head of School Steve Freedman. (Credit: Veronica Yankowski)

SSDS Head of School Ruth Gafni with past board president and alumni parent Shari Leventhal and Tree of Life Honorees Deborah Goodman Davis and Gerald Davis. (Credit: Veronica Yankowski)

Schechter’s AHAVA Parents Association Co-Presidents Jonathan Apter, Caryn Shaw and Sarah Nanus.

(Courtesy of SSDSBC) More than 400 parents, grandparents, alumni and friends celebrated Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County’s 45th year at its annual community gala on April 7 at the Hilton Pearl River.

Among this year’s honorees were Schechter alumni parents Deborah Goodman Davis and Gerald Davis, recipients of the Tree of Life Award, and Schechter parent and AHAVA Parent Association Co-President Caryn Shaw, recipient of the Hai Award. Head of School Ruth Gafni received a special recognition for her 16 years of inspired leadership. At the end of this school year, Ms. Gafni will head to the Ramaz School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and Steve Freedman bids farewell to the Hillel Day School in suburban Detroit to begin his headship at Schechter on July 1. Each leaves a position held for 16 years to take up new challenges; both have said that they are handing off a communal and academic gem.

The event marks the beginning of two transformative chapters at Schechter: the upcoming transition to a new head of school and the recent opening of the Popkin Innovation Lab. The fully equipped fabrication space offers students greater opportunities to create, collaborate and problem-solve using the International Baccalaureate (IB) global framework; a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) curriculum; and Design Thinking, a school of thought that teaches students to arrive at creative, innovative outcomes through a multistep process.

Together with the four pillars that guide the school, world-class academics, joyful Judaism, a strong moral compass and a warm, inclusive community, Schechter students develop a keen understanding of their place in the world, and the Jewish moral character to apply their knowledge, talents and learning in the service of others in high school and beyond.

Schechter is the first Jewish day school in the tri-state area to be officially authorized as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School for the Middle Years Programme (MYP), joining a short list of three Jewish schools in North America and six public and private secular schools in the state of New Jersey to have achieved the prestigious accreditation.

The school tailored the gold-standard framework to its Judaic studies curriculum, creating a uniquely Jewish experience for students to connect their Jewish learning and values to the world around them and to turn their learning into action. The school chose the IB because it offers a powerful lens through which general studies and Jewish text, traditions and Hebrew language can be better integrated and taught.