The Akabas family has been with Beit Rabban since our earliest days in 1991, when Meg and Seth read an article in the Jewish Week about a new, progressive Jewish school on the Upper West Side. When it came time to look for Kindergarten for Shai later that year, they visited the Beit Rabban open house and met our founder Dr. Devora Steinmetz. They immediately connected with the values of the school, and so, this began the Akabas family's 16 years of attending Beit Rabban and many more years, continuing through this day, of volunteering, board service, and a shared values that were shaped and grounded in the Beit Rabban experience.
Meg Akabas served on the Board of the Beit Rabban Day School Board as well as Yaldaynu Preschool for a combined 24 years. She was President of both Boards in the 1990’s (Beit Rabban for four years, and Yaldaynu for eight years).
As a New York State Certified Parenting Educator, Meg has been a leader in the parenting education world for more than ten years through her direct work with parents and expectant parents, writing about parenting, professionalization of the field, and policy work around supporting parents on a state and national level. She is the current Chairperson of the National Parenting Education Network (NPEN) and serves on the steering committee of the New York State Parenting Education Partnership (NYSPEP). She is on the childbirth education staff at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City where she regularly teaches an intensive workshop on infant development and parenting for expectant parents, and is the author of 52 Weeks of Parenting Wisdom: Effective Strategies for Raising Happy, Responsible Kids.
Other volunteer activities include mentoring an elementary school student as part of Read Ahead, scribing for seniors at the New Jewish Home Creative Writing program, and various one-time projects, such as Habitat for Humanity builds.
Meg is also a classical pianist and a fitness/hip-hop dance/Pilates teacher. She is a trivia, crossword puzzle and board game enthusiast and once won $64,000 on Who Wants to Be A Millionaire as a fundraising effort for Beit Rabban.
Seth Akabas is a founding partner at the law firm of Akabas & Sproule. His firm does corporate work for numerous small and mid-sized companies, and it provides pro bono legal services to a variety of charitable organizations, including Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services, Emunah of America, CMC: Foundation for Change, PFBL Fund, among others. Seth has served on many not-for-profit boards, including UJA affiliates and the Princeton University Center for Jewish Life, and currently serves on the Board of CMC: Foundation for Change, a charity dedicated to providing guidance and training for families with a relative suffering from substance abuse or addiction, and the PFBL Fund, a charity providing small scholarships to first-in-family college students from economically challenged families in the New York City area. Seth also volunteers on his shul’s Hevra Kadisha committee and is an occasional volunteer for Colel Chabad. In his free time, Seth does the weekly crossword puzzle with Meg, reads the Jewish Week cover to cover, and plays a lot of basketball. For years, he has organized a weekly game in which he provides financial support for young players from Harlem to interact with the business professionals who constitute the core group of players.
Shai Akabas graduated Beit Rabban in 1998 and now sits on the board of directors for the school, where he has served on the finance committee for nearly 10 years. Shai lives with his wife, Rebecca, and two young boys (Jacob -- age 3; Ezra -- age 1) in Washington, DC, where he works as director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a research and advocacy organization. Since 2010, he has conducted analyses on a variety of economic policy issues, including the federal budget, retirement security, and the financing of higher education. Early on, Shai had the opportunity to support Jerome Powell, now Chairman of the Federal Reserve, in his work on the federal debt limit. Prior to joining BPC, Shai worked as a satellite office director on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 2009 campaign for reelection.
After Beit Rabban, Shai attended Heschel for middle school and Stuyvesant for high school. He then went on to receive a B.A. in economics and history from Cornell University and an M.S. in applied economics from Georgetown University. Shai is passionate about working with kids and volunteers with Power Lunch, a mid-day, in-school reading program for elementary school children. In his limited spare time, Shai plays basketball, tennis, and piano.
Tal Akabas attended Beit Rabban from kindergarten through 5th grade, and the Abraham Joshua Heschel School for 6th-8th grade, before attending High School at Stuyvesant. Tal graduated from Cornell College of Engineering in 2011 and went on to receive his Masters in Operations Research and Information Engineering in 2012. As a student at Cornell, Tal was involved in Hillel, serving two years on the student executive board as the Chair of Finance, and Vice President and Tal was president of the Cornell club basketball team. Tal is now working at Google in Mountain View CA and lives in Palo Alto with his wife Polina and two Kids - Natan (age 3) and Ayden (17 mo). Tal is a member of B’nai Jeshurum synagogue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, as well as Kol Emet Palo Alto. He enjoys playing basketball, as well as art and photography.
Shoshana Akabas attended Beit Rabban from Kindergarten through 5th grade ('03), and she is currently a New York based writer, teacher, and non-profit director. She holds a bachelors from Penn ('14, cum laude) in English and organic chemistry, where she ran educational programming for the campus Hillel including a Torah-reading course that culminated in b'not mitzvah for two college students who hadn't previously had the chance to mark this milestone. She also wrote for The Daily Pennsylvanian and was the Editor-in-Chief of The Penn Review. Following her B.A., she earned a dual Masters in Fine Arts in writing and literary translation from Columbia University, where she has taught creative writing and composition for the past four years. Her writing and Hebrew translations have been published in The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Elle Magazine, The Kenyon Review, American Short Fiction, and elsewhere. She has also received artist and scholar fellowships from National Geographic, Jentel Foundation, and Gladstone's Library. In addition to writing and teaching, Shoshana served as a volunteer refugee resettlement coordinator for eight years, in both the U.S. and Israel. She started volunteering for the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and continues her work in collaboration with HIAS and her synagogue's refugee committee. In 2018, she founded New Neighbors Partnership, a non-profit that matches newly-arrived refugee families with local families who have slightly older kids and can provide clothing hand-me-downs and community support during the resettlement process. This initiative, currently in its third year, has already served more than 250 refugee children in New York City from 26 countries with more than $150,000 worth of clothing. When she's not writing, teaching, or doing refugee work, Shoshana enjoys playing piano, attending book club, traveling, translating, and family time - especially with her four nephews.
Lev Akabas attended Beit Rabban from kindergarten through 5th grade (2008). He currently lives on the Upper West Side and has been working for just under a year as a data visualization reporter for the sports business publication Sportico, where creates interactive graphics for stories on the site and writes about trends in the industry. Lev graduated in 2019 as a computer science major from Cornell University, where he also took classes in Hebrew and Israeli cinema. He was an editor for The Cornell Daily Sun for four semesters as well as the recruitment chairman for his fraternity, through which he volunteered at a homeless shelter and soup kitchen in Ithaca. As an undergraduate, he was also involved in Cornell Hillel, serving on the freshmen engagement and social justice committees and often leading Kabbalat Shabbat services. In his free time, Lev enjoys playing basketball, playing piano, writing, and traveling.