Fairwold Academy Dedicates Building to Rabbi, Psychologist

A visage of a brown brick building reads "Dr. Gary Feldman Center for Education"
The outside of the Fairwold Institute with its new name dedicated for employee, psychologist and Rabbi Gary Feldman | Courtesy of Amy Grossman

The Fairwold Academy named and dedicated its building on June 10 to honor employee, longtime psychologist and Rabbi Gary Feldman.

Feldman worked as the school psychologist for seven years at the Fort Washington-based Fairworld Academy, an approved private school for students with disabilities and accessibility needs and part of the nonprofit Public Health Management Corp.

The dedication ceremony consisted of a faculty and family gathering in the building’s auditorium, a video tribute to Feldman and the display of a painting titled “Hallelujah! Sing a New Song!” by Feldman’s wife Ruth Feldman in honor of her husband.

June 10 marked the one-year yahrzeit of Feldman’s death; he died at 73. On the same day as the dedication, many of his family members attended his unveiling ceremony in Israel; the coincidental timing of the two events was beshert, or destiny, according to Ruth Feldman.

“He was so dedicated to working with students with disabilities, and felt in a very humble way that the knowledge and experience that he had needed to continue to be imparted on others, so that the students would be able to benefit,” said Amy Grossman, director of admissions at PHMC and colleague of Feldman who coordinated the dedication efforts.

Grossman experienced firsthand Feldman’s care for others. In 2011, Grossman lost a child and, despite not having a close friendship, Feldman wrote her a letter.

“His words were just so meaningful, and the fact that he took the time to do that was one of the most special things that happened to me during my period of such intense grief,” Grossman said. “I just will always love him, and he will always have a special place in my heart.”

Before Fairwold, Feldman served as the coordinator of School Psychological Services at the School District of Philadelphia, where he helped provide resources for teachers with students with disabilities and accommodation needs. 

A blue and coral abstract painting hangs on a white wall.
“Hallelujah! Sing a New Song!”, a painting by wife Ruth Feldman dedicated her to husband, on display at the Fairwold Academy | Courtesy of Amy Grossman

“Gary was the type of person whose assessment skills were just top notch,” said School District of Philadelphia Chief of Special Education Linda Williams, who attended the dedication. “He knew how to assess, and he knew how to help teachers help children.” 

“His name should be on this building because he epitomizes what a true educator is,” she added.

Gary Feldman is an old white man sitting on a chair crowded with three children as he reads a book.
Feldman with his grandchildren
Courtesy of Uri Feldman

Though not a pulpit rabbi, Feldman became ordained in 2006 after completing the online Yeshiva Pirchei Shoshanim program. He was heavily involved in Lower Merion Synagogue and volunteered there for 18 years. Feldman brought his spirituality to his job, and his job experience gave him a unique perspective on Jewish texts, according to his son Uri Feldman.

“He really brought to the Jewish text that he was studying a perspective from a very well-trained and seasoned practitioner,” he said.

Feldman was born in Queens, New York, and got his bachelor’s from Queens College. He moved to Philadelphia in the 1970s to pursue his doctorate from Temple University and raised his family of three children with his wife in Lower Merion.

According to Uri Feldman, his father’s legacy was in his ability to connect the pieces of his life with a strong set of values.

“It was a combination of living a life of family and community and profession, all intertwined into one,” he said.



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