Now 90 years old, The Brandeis School in Lawrence is addressing the present and its future by expanding its nursery school program, enhancing the middle school educational offerings and upgrading a building dedicated in 1963.
Once part of the Solomon Schechter network of schools, Brandeis is an independent Jewish Day school that goes from pre-school to eighth grade. A great majority of its students go to yeshiva high schools, including the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County, North Shore Hebrew Academy and the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway in Cedarhurst.
“Number one is our dual education, secular studies and Judaic studies is just as rigorous as HALB (Hebrew Academy of Long Beach) and HAFTR, and the emphasis on the Hebrew language,” Reuben Maron said about Brandeis.
The new administrative director is charged with expanding the 200-student enrollment, retaining students, building up the school’s academic achievement and improving the physical plant. Maron was the executive director at HAFTR for nearly eight years.
At an open house on March 19, Brandeis officials led by Maron and Head of School Raz Levin and Board President Heidi Goldmintz, introduced prospective parents to the new Tony Tots (18-polus months) and 2-year-old program that will be taught in the Montessori style which is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. There will also be a Mommy and Me Program.
“We have a sense of family and care for everyone here,” said Levin, who has been with Brandeis since 2001. He was a teacher, then assistant principal nine years later and in 2012 promoted to his current position. “We have the ability to accept and respect everyone. We are all friends.”
Levin embraces that philosophy from offering a guest a beverage more than once to helping one of his students with a minor medical issue in the nurse’s office. He stressed that every sect of Judaism is welcome at the school on Frost Lane, and the manner in which the students practice at home is valued.
“We have a strong sense of Zionism and work to promote the Jewish state,” he said. “We observe the holidays and Shabbat, where some people don’t watch TV and others vacation near a lake.
In conjunction with the Gruss Foundation, which provides money to many educational and philanthropic institutions, Brandeis will have STEAM programs (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) in all grades. A boys’ only minyan (prayer) group will be added as well as an elective after-school Judaic studies program. All served food is under the Vaad’s supervision.
Both Levin and Maron highlighted the school’s low turnover rate for teachers and the “Cheers-like” environment, where everyone knows your name. Goldmintz, involved with Brandeis for 15 years, has been on the board since 2012. Her daughter, Gillian, graduated that same year and her son, Harrison, will graduate this year.
“I think one of the things that makes us unique is the family atmosphere, haimish (Yiddish for friendly or homey),” she said. “We have small class sizes, all the teachers know all the kids names and there is no bullying. The teachers and administrators really take care of the kids.”
The school community also takes care of its parents. Goldmintz said that when a parent was seriously ill, people pitched in to help. “We are accepting of all branches of the Jewish religion, no matter who you are,” she said.