The Sephardic Academy of Manhattan (“The Academy”), has acquired a building to house its growing elementary program. Located at 148-150 East 74th Street, the building is currently configured as mixed use residential and commercial space and will undergo extensive renovation to be completed by 2020. The building will hold classrooms equipped with state-of-the-art instructional technology, communal spaces, Midrash, library, offices, and a roof deck with open recreational space. They are currently accepting applications to kindergarten and first grade for the 2018-19 academic year.
The Academy is a co-educational Jewish school that opened its first kindergarten class this past September and will ultimately educate students from toddlers through eighth grade. It was propelled by the success of the Sephardic Academy’s Early Childhood Program that was established in 2010, and maintains the program’s essential features including a nurturing environment, joyful and comprehensive approach to Jewish education, and experiential learning.
The Academy is based on a Classic Sephardic Rabbinic Humanist approach, which grounds students in the universal attributes of honesty, humility, charity, discipline, faith and respect and the particular intellectual traditions and practices of Sephardic Judaism. There is an emphasis on whole child education, attending to the social, emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual development of students.
“This building will enable us to live our mission by providing a space to fill with the laughter, excitement, curiosity, and wonder of our children. It will serve as a laboratory for our students to make meaning of the world in the past and present, and as a resource for Jewish educators in America and internationally,” said Mary Setton Peldman, principal of the elementary school. Chary Fox, Director of the Sephardic Academy Pre-School program added “Such a strong commitment to education is a wonderful affirmation of our work and will be a source of communal continuity for years to come.”
The Academy attracts families interested in a 21st century education that grounds children in Jewish traditions and practices while advancing skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and executive functioning. It employs an individualistic approach that helps each student reach his or her fullest potential. In addition to core general and Judaic subject areas, kindergarten students participate in STEAM, (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math), music, chess, third language instruction, music and movement, and nature studies.
Haim Chera, Trustee, stated: “We draw our school’s mission from our predecessors who have been arriving in the Americas since the age of exploration. They sought equality, justice, freedom of worship, and freedom from fear, and this promise is now anchored into the bedrock of Manhattan.” Michelle Dayan, Executive Director added, “Thanks to the insight and dedication of our trustees, board, administration, teachers, and families, we have developed a strong reputation for excellence and are well positioned for sustained growth.”
The announcement of the new space has been met by enthusiasm and accolades.
Arthur Kiron, Schottenstein-Jesselson Curator of Judaica Collections at the University of Pennsylvania stated: “Congratulations to the Board of the Sephardic Academy for this very moving effort and concrete plan to bring the legacy of Sephardic rabbinic humanism to a new generation of young learners. Best wishes for continued success.”
Dr. Abigail Green, Professor of Modern European History, Brasenose College, Oxford University, and author of Moses Montefiore: Jewish Liberator, Imperial Hero offered: “An initiative in the best Sephardi tradition – of which Moses Montefiore would have been proud.”
Esther Schor, Author of Emma Lazarus shared “Mazal tov and best wishes to the Sephardic Academy of Manhattan on this auspicious expansion of the school. The Academy honors the long and illustrious history of the Sephardic Community in this country.”
Dr. Eliezer Papo, Chairman of the Moshe David Gaon Center for Ladino Culture at Ben Gurion University of the Negevoffered, “Congratulations to Sephardic Academy and to the no’ar (youth) that I know will continue to engage in a dialogue with the past to shape the future.”
David E.R. Dangoor, President of the American Sephardi Federation at the Center for Jewish History stated: “The continued growth of the Sephardic Academy is an exciting development in the current renaissance of Classic Sephardic Judaism as envisioned by Prof. Daniel Elazar.”
Gladys Haddad, President of the Sephardic Community Center said: “We wish the Sephardic Academy much success on their new endeavor. Their continued growth illustrates that we are a cohesive and unified community.”
Rabbi Elie Abadie, MD, Head of School, stated: “The greatest and most valuable gift we can give our children is the education we provide them. I am humbled by the overwhelming support of our mission and grateful for all those who have supported us, both publicly and privately.”
Indeed, the Sephardic Academy of Manhattan is developing an important bridge spanning centuries of tradition and extending into the future. The support as evidenced by the commitment and enthusiasm of the community, determination of the school’s leadership and foundation in Jewish values and universalism ensure the institution’s success for many years to come.
Edited by: JV Staff