Day School ‘23-’24 Net Gain From Sports to Psychology to an Admissions Expert

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Rabbi Raw Budow. Courtesy of Abrams Hebrew Academy

Alan Zeitlin

At the Abrams Hebrew Academy, spiking will be allowed.

As long as it’s not in someone’s face.


Rabbi Ira Budow, the school’s director for more than four decades, said he is excited about a new floor for the basketball/volleyball court that will be installed in a few weeks.

“We started a volleyball team, and it’s become popular,” Budow said. “I had the sense seeing the development of volleyball in the country that it’s an exciting sport for men and women. It’s enjoyable to play and to watch.”

Budow said he’s thrilled that the Yardley school is close to getting final approval for a massive renovation and addition to the outdoor sports facilities. There will be an adventure playground students can climb, an outdoor basketball court that can also be used for volleyball, as well as a soccer field.

“The cost will be around $1 million,” Budow said. “It’s a major undertaking. It will be a super addition to our school and will be an impressive sight to behold. I think it will be greatly appreciated by the students.”

At Kohelet Yeshiva, Communications Director Nachi Troodler explained that while the school has focused on technology and the science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) program, students will have greater opportunities this year.

“Kohelet is going to be part of The Center For Initiatives in Jewish Education,” he said. “They bring an additional STEAM component, including equipment and curricula. This enables us to take it to the next level. They will, for the first time, be able to compete in a robotics tournament. There will also be a Drone Olympics for seventh and eighth grade. This is cutting-edge stuff.”

He said the Merion school is also excited to have a highly experienced new school psychologist, Ariella Silver.

Ariella Silver. Courtesy of Kohelet Yeshiva

Silver spent six years at Mount Sinai in Manhattan. There she was an assistant professor in pediatrics and psychiatry and the director of the Psychology Training Program. She dealt with youth ages 10-23 and identified learning and developmental disabilities. She most recently worked as a middle school psychologist at The Shefa School in Manhattan, which focuses on students with language-based learning disabilities.

“What I saw ran the gamut of anything and everything,” Silver said. “Whoever walked through our clinic doors, we were there to help. It gave me a large depth of experience with many different issues. At The Shefa School, we fused mental health with Jewish values. One example of that was Pirkei Avot, relating to how we interact with people. We taught ‘Aizeh hu ashir? Hasameach b’chelko’ or “Who is the rich? The person who is happy with his lot.’ The students really responded to that, but there are many to do it, including goal setting for Rosh Hashanah, and asking for teshuva, which is a reflective activity.”
Silver said she is looking forward to being a part of Kohelet, which blends “creativity and academic innovation with a love of Torah.”

And in Bryn Mawr, Rabbi Marshall Lesack, head of school of the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy, said an endowment with The Jewish National Fund and The Alexander Musk High School will grant a 50% subsidy for juniors who will be in Israel from Aug. 27 until Thanksgiving. He added that the school will have a new athletic director in Bob Dignazio, who has coached in college Division III. The school will also join the Friends School League, or FSL.

“It will provide our student-athletes with excellent competition in a well-established and highly regarded league,” Lesack said.

He said as part of The Barrack Institute for the Upper School, students will choose a two-year program in business and entrepreneurship, art or STEAM, which now has a larger facility.

Missy Present. Courtesy of Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy

In addition, the school is welcoming a new director of admissions and enrollment management, Missy Present, the chief enrollment officer at The Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan for the past 14 years.

Present wrote that she learned much, including that “first and foremost, relationships and partnerships matter. Serving as an enrollment professional at schools like JTS and Barrack isn’t only about helping people find their next school, it’s about helping people on their Jewish educational journey. To me, that is what is so fulfilling.”

She explained that besides guiding families through the application process and going over transcripts and applications, she is looking forward to being the face of the school among the community and meeting community members.

She described the new position as one of personal meaning.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to which I feel a deep personal connection and responsibility, both as an incoming Barrack parent and a person whose own Jewish experience was shaped by vibrant Philadelphia-area Jewish legacy institutions,” Present wrote.

Alan Zeitlin is a freelance writer.

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