This week, , announced the appointment of Rabbi Elliot Goldberg of Chicago as the new head of school.
Rabbi Goldberg, 42, succeeds Behzad Dayanim, who will leave at the end of this academic year, after serving as head of school for the past three years at the independent Jewish day school on Buena Vista Road. Dayanim announced his resignation from the school in November, citing personal reasons and a desire to be near family in Massachusetts.
According to a statement released by the school, Rabbi Goldberg comes to West Hartford from the Chicagoland Jewish High School, which he co-founded. He served as director of religious life and helped grow the high school from 26 students to its current enrollment of 162 students. During his tenure there, he was awarded the Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award for Excellence in Jewish Education.
A graduate of the University of Chicago, Rabbi Goldberg received his rabbinic ordination and master’s of Jewish education from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. He has many years of experience at other Jewish day schools and is a graduate of the Day School Leadership Training Institute.
He plans to begin work at the school in July and will move to West Hartford with his wife, Rabbi Sheryl Katzman, and their three young daughters — Michal, Hadas and Liora — who will attend the school in the fall.
Robin Landau of West Hartford, who is president of the school, said in a statement: "Rabbi Goldberg has dedicated his career to Jewish day school education and was instrumental in the founding and success of his current school, Chicagoland Jewish High School. We are very lucky as a school and as a community that he will bring his many years of experience and passion for excellence to Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford.”
“[Schechter Day School] is a real gem of a school,” said Rabbi Goldberg, in a phone interview from Chicago. “The school is committed to high levels of education and teaches students critical thinking and provides moral education, which in this age is very important.”
The school offers a dual-curriculum Judaic and general studies education from preschool through eighth grade. Jewish day schools and non-profit organizations around the country have faced enormous challenges due to the national economic climate, and this has had an impact on the school, having weathered a decrease in enrollment and teacher layoffs during the past few years.
However, Rabbi Goldberg said he “definitely sees reason for optimism.” Not only does he believe the economy will turn around, he noted that the Hartford community has a long history of a Jewish community supportive of Jewish education and institutions which will “rally behind them all to ensure a thriving Jewish life.”
“[Schechter Day School] has tremendous potential, and I want to be part of it,” he added.
Landau said the school is “poised to grow.” Enrollment for 2011-2012 is going well, compared to last year at this time, she said.
The school recently revised its administrative structure to include a new principal in addition to a head of school, hired new art and music teachers, moved the start time 15 minutes earlier, added new middle school language electives in Chinese and Spanish and started Camp Create-a-Summer, a summer program open to the entire community. Last year, SSDS was reaccredited by the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools.
A gala 40th anniversary celebration is planned for Sunday, May 22, at the Bushnell in Hartford. Composer and performer Marvin Hamlisch will headline the event.
For more information, contact the school at 860-561-0700, or visit www.ssds-hartford.org.