Torah Prep completes $2.5 million renovation

Torah Prep School of St. Louis recently reopened its girls’ division building on Olive Boulevard following a $2.5 million renovation. Photos: Eric Berger

By Eric Berger, Staff Writer

Torah Prep School of St. Louis recently underwent a $2.5 million renovation of its girls division school in University City. 

The Orthodox school, which instructs students from preschool through eighth grade, now features a new roof, as well as new heating and air conditioning, windows, lighting, landscaping and a redesigned entrance, among other changes.

Rabbi Tzvi Freedman, the school’s executive director who  started with a handful of students 30 years ago and now leads more than 260, expects to either expand the current building on Olive Boulevard or purchase additional property elsewhere in the next few years.

But for now, he said, the investment makes the current building, which is more than 60 years old, more attractive to prospective families.

“People who would sometimes come to see the school  were not impressed with the location or the structure of the building, the look of the building,” Freedman said. “They liked it, but it was tough to join because they didn’t feel comfortable with it, with the roof leaking. Now you walk in and people say, ‘Wow.’ ”


Enrollment has increased significantly in the past decade, the rabbi said, as alumni have started to send their children to the school. 

Freedman walked around the school last week, pointing out the changes, which included new artwork in the lobby and LED lighting. He is clearly excited about the changes that have occurred since he started the school in his basement.

“To see this little small school, that started with six students graduating each year, and now to see the alumni, with their kids coming back,” is wonderful, he said. 

Ivetta Boyko, a general studies teacher who has been at the school for seven years, said that before the renovations, faculty had to worry about whether a leaky roof would ruin items left on a bulletin board. 

“I think before, even though families did love us and see what we were able to give them … even though you say, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover,’ people do judge things by how they look on the outside, and now that we have this beautiful building, I think people will take a closer look at us,” Boyko said.

Students and faculty had spent the first semester of the school at space inside Missouri Torah Institute, an Orthodox high school in Chesterfield, and at the former Louis and Sarah Block Yeshiva High School before moving back into the school earlier this month. 

Freedman said donors to the project included Michael Staenberg, whose family foundation has donated millions in recent years to a variety of Jewish causes and who gave more than $1 million in time and money.

Staenberg said: “Day schools are important. It’s an investment for the future of the Jewish community. Our family supports all parts of the the Jewish  community, affiliated, non-affiliated, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform.”

The school also has a boys’ division on North and South Road in University City. To further expand, the school is considering property in Olivette, Frontenac or Chesterfield, Freedman said, and expects to make a change in about three years.