Changes abound at HAFTR High School


The only constant in life is change and there are a trio of transitions taking place at the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway High School.

“We are very blessed to have extraordinary school leaders and educators at HAFTR High School, and we are thrilled that three outstanding colleagues will assume additional responsibilities to guide and lead HAFTR as we prepare for this transition,” high school Principal Naomi Lippman stated in a letter to HAFTR parents.

Rabbi Gedaliah Oppen, the principal of Judaic Studies, will step down when the school year ends. He has been with HAFTR for 28 years, serving as a rabbi and educational administrator at the lower, middle and high schools. At the high school, he has inspired the other rabbis and teachers, and instilled a love of and a dedication to Torah and an appreciation of Israel, Lippman said.

Beginning in July, Joshua Wyner will be the associate principal of HAFTR High, expanding his leadership role, overseeing all aspects of the high school’s program, while focusing on the development of the Judaic Studies Department.

Wyner joined HAFTR High School in 2010 as the founding director of the newly established Achievement Center, which has been highly successful in providing intensive academic and clinical support to students to succeed in the mainstream high school program. He has a master’s degree in school psychology and is completing his doctorate in Jewish Education Administration at the Azrieli Graduate School of Yeshiva University.

Two years later, he was promoted to the director of the Center for Student Services. He continued to direct the expansion of the Achievement Center, while also supervising the clinical and educational services provided by the Lawrence School District that includes the resource room program, a social worker, a psychologist and the student referral and evaluation process. 

In 2016, Wyner was named assistant principal of HAFTR High School, where Lippman said he worked hard to improve the educational and co-curricular experience for all the students. “[He] has been highly effective in enhancing many dimensions of our school culture, including initiatives in professional development for faculty, expanded guidance services for all students, and social-emotional learning programming,” Lippman stated. 

Rabbi Yitzchak Riselsheimer, the dean of students, will serve as Judaic Studies dean, overseeing that department with the principals and Rabbi Ira Wallach.  Riselsheimer joined HAFTR High in 2009, after serving as assistant principal of Mesivta Rabbi Chaim Berlin. He has a master’s degree in school building leadership. He was ordained as a rabbi at Mestiva Tiferes Yerushalayim in Manhattan.

In 2014, Riselsheimer was appointed dean of students. He has supervised and guided the implementation of the school’s policies and code of student conduct, and been instrumental in creating and sustaining a culture of respectfulness and adherence to school rules and student expectations. Wallach will be the Judaic Studies coordinator. He started at HAFTR in 2016, and was a rabbi, student adviser and Judaic Studies programmer at Ida Crown Jewish Academy in Chicago and a rabbi at the Ramaz Upper School.

A HAFTR High alumni, Wallach studied at Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh and the Mirrer Yeshiva, and was ordained at RIETS at Yeshiva University. He has a master’s degree in Jewish Education from the Azrieli Graduate School of Yeshiva University, where he is completing the doctoral program in education and administration. 

“During his tenure at HAFTR High School, Rabbi Wallach has earned the admiration and respect of his students, with whom he has shared his love of Torah and his passion for teaching Talmud and Tanach (the canonical collection of Jewish texts),” Lippman stated.