Local Jewish day schools share what’s new this year


Students prepare for Shabbat at Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community school with Rabbi Scott Slarskey  Pictured with Slarskey are (from left) Isaac Besmer  Karinne Haimann  Isaac Picker  Avi Terkel (in the back)  Ami Shafrin and Penelope Gill Gray  PHOTO: PATTY BLOOM MIROWITZ

Bill Motchan, Special For The Jewish Light and Ellen Futterman

The Jewish Light contacted each of the Jewish schools in the St. Louis area to find out what was new for the 2022-23 school year and learn about any new projects or initiatives in the works. What follows is a round-up report from each of these schools:

Esther Miller Bais Yaakov High School

What is new for the 2022-23 school?

“We hired a new executive director, Rabbi Avi Feigenbaum,” said Tova Greenblatt, principal of the all-girls high school. “He relocated with his family from Jacksonville, Fla.

“We have created a Learning Center with a new hire, Dena Love, who will be coordinating all the services, academic and emotional, for our struggling students. We have added structure and hours for our mental health professional.


“We are back to having all four grades (we were missing a grade for the last four years).

“We hired a new history teacher, who has taught at several colleges. He came in with a flair — painted his room, redecorated — brought in tons of exciting materials.”

What projects or initiatives are you most excited about?

“We are looking forward to our major shabbatone, which we have in the alternate year to (a major theatrical) production. We invite small Bais Yaakov schools from around the country to spend the Shabbos with us. We usually host about 120 students. We have themes, workshops, performances, art, food and lots of good socialization. In the past we have had students from Palo Alto, Las Vegas, Houston, Dallas, Portland, Norfolk, Minneapolis, Rochester, Cincinnati and more.

“We are also looking forward to going through our re-accreditation process with Cognia. Although it is a tedious process, it is well worth the efforts. This will be the fifth time achieving this recognition (it’s done every five years)

“We will be having a Causematch Campaign and a Golf Tournament fundraiser in September.”

Has enrollment returned to pre-pandemic levels?

Greenblatt said EMBY never waned in its enrollment due to the pandemic, although it did struggle with attendance from both students and teachers, as well as with consistency, rigor, anxiety and academic gaps.

She added that the number of students has gone up to 37, from last year’s 23 students.

HF Epstein Hebrew Academy/ Yeshivat Kadimah High School

What is new for the 2022-23 school?

“Mrs. Itta Boyko has been promoted principal of the entire school,” said Rabbi Shmuel Miller, head of school. “We also have a curriculum coordinator for Judaic studies, Rabbi Jonathan Fruchter, which is also new for this year.

“We really celebrate the fact that families are coming from what I would call different stations of Jewish expression. And we pride ourselves on our Jewish education.”

What are you most excited about this school year?

“We’re celebrating our 80th anniversary birthday in the coming year,” Miller said. “There will be a very large end-of-year program. We have a schedule throughout the year. We’re going to be expanding what we do for the community, Last year we launched Abdela Under the Stars, a community-wide event. People are so hungry to get together.”

Has enrollment returned to pre-pandemic levels?

Epstein Hebrew Academy/Yeshivat Kadimah High School did not see a noticeable drop off due to the pandemic. For the 2022-23 school year, there are 41 new students for a total of 150 in the school.

“We are particularly proud that of the 20 families who are joining our school, three families have moved into St. Louis with having good Jewish education being one of the primary reasons why they came,” Miller said.

“In the preschool, we’re looking at the largest numbers that we have with an increase of 50,” Boyko said.

Missouri Torah Institute

What is new for the 2022-23 school?

“We welcome chef AJ Moll as our food service manager as well as Hugh McMonigle who will join our science department,” said Rabbi Josh Bregman, director of development.

What are you most excited about this school year?

“We are excited to welcome back all of our returning students and welcome our new students from both St. Louis and across the country,” Bregman said. “As freshmen, 23 students will enter, our biggest ninth grade since we began in 2007. Additionally, we are about to embark on the expansion project of our Bais Medrash (Judaic prayer and study hall) which will be a much-needed upgrade due to our increasing enrollment, thank G-d.”

Has enrollment returned to pre-pandemic levels?

Enrollment did not decrease due to the pandemic.

Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School

What is new for the 2022-23 school?

Mirowitz welcomed Raquel Scharf- Anderson as its new head of school in July. Among her priorities: knowing the strengths, interests and uniqueness of every child and family; supporting the faculty in their work; creating joyful memories and opportunities for celebration; and enhancing Mirowitz’s relationships with the broader community.

“Joining this community fills me with excitement, amazement, hope, and gratitude,” she said. Scharf-Anderson replaces Cheryl Maayan, who retired in June after leading Mirowitz for 14 years.

Also new is an expansion in outdoor learning, with Lizzie Berkowitz as the school’s new outdoor education specialist. She will develop new units of study for each grade, and guide teachers on the stewardship of the school’s butterfly gardens, chicken coops, compost bins, rain garden, amphibian pond, sensory garden, vegetable garden and nature trail.

What are some other projects or initiatives your excited about?

• Upgrading technology. “Through grants, government funding and private donations, Mirowitz has upgraded all areas of technology,” said Patty Bloom, director of admissions and marketing. “We purchased 16 new smartboards, oneto- one devices for each student (iPad for grades K-2; MacBook Air for grades 3-8), digital subscriptions, upgraded internet, built-out Zoom rooms and upgraded cameras and audio systems.”

• Adapting new evidence-based curriculum and practices. Mirowitz is piloting new curriculum in reading, writing, phonemic awareness, handwriting, science and social-emotional learning. “We also are instituting universal speech and language screenings for primary grades and dyslexia screenings for all grades,” Bloom added.

• Expanding the garden space that middle school students transformed last year so that they can share some of the next harvest with the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry.

• Preparing for the Hunger and Poverty Trip. Middle school students (grades 6-8) are taking a four-day Hunger and Poverty Trip Sept. 19-22 to Howell Nature Center in Michigan to engage in experiential learning around the issue of world poverty, and their Jewish responsibility to care for the hungry and poor. After they return, they will embark on a year-long project that will impact the problem of global poverty.

Has enrollment returned to pre-pandemic levels?

Mirowitz saw an enrollment bump during the pandemic because it reopened in person months before any of the public schools. In the summer of 2020, more than 40 families inquired about transferring to Mirowitz. The school could only accommodate about half of them. This year, student enrollment is back to pre-pandemic levels at 160 students.

Torah Prep School of St. Louis

What is new for the 2022-23 school?

“We hired for the first time a CEO of the school, Rabbi Binyamin Travis, who is joining us beginning Nov. 1,” said Dr. Dov Zeffren, board president. “We have also hired Mrs. Erin Brooke as our new general studies principal. She comes from the St. Louis County Public School and special school districts.

“Our Hebrew language department will have a special program for the girls school K-8. Every day for six minutes, the entire school will read and speaks only Hebrew to enhance their fluency. The boy’s school will introduce a program where they focus on the root of the word.

“Also, in conjunction with the school, our Chesterfield parents are investing in a bus that will help to transport the kids from home to the school. One-third of our school comes from Chesterfield.”

What are you most excited about this school year?

“We’re excited about that with the hiring of some of these new staff, particularly a new CEO, it will enhance the level of professionalism and sophistication in the overall management of the school.”

Has enrollment returned to pre-pandemic levels?

The pandemic did not impact Torah Prep’s enrollment, Zeffren said. “We’re also excited about the continued growth of the school whereby our numbers have increased,” he said. “Over the last three years, the numbers have gone from 250 to 310 to 319.”