WELCOME FROM OUR
HEAD OF SCHOOL
Our name is based on this talmudic passage, and “Beit Rabban” is the term used in classical Jewish texts for a school where children encounter the wisdom of the Sages. Spend some time in the halls of our school, and you will see the embodiment of this text: the holy sounds of discussion, debate, and laughter. You will see children learning at shared tables, on classroom rugs, and under a tree in Central Park. You will hear children engrossed in primary texts, working in chevruta (paired learning), and meeting in small groups with teachers.
What might you see on any given day at Beit Rabban? Preschoolers develop their capacity to follow sequenced instructions by using a recipe to make challah. Kindergarteners interview staff in Hebrew to learn about their commuting patterns. Elementary classes are conferencing with teachers and peers to edit research projects; visiting our city council representative; meeting with older student “mentors” to practice their Torah reading skills; or graphing the frequency of Hebrew root words in different prayers. In the middle school, students are engrossed in an evolution unit co-lead by their science and humanities teachers; decoding complicated vocabulary using Greek roots; washing dishes and cleaning counters during their weekly service learning period; or experimenting with a mysterious white substance that explodes, unexpectedly.
While these classroom experiences are diverse across grades and subject areas, there are clear unifying features: a profound sense of belonging, an emphasis on questions, and a belief that the purpose of knowledge is understanding. Students and staff members alike feel at home at Beit Rabban. We invest in relationships: teacher-student relationships, classroom communities, and cross-grade connections. When a child has a sense of safety and belonging, they can ask questions and take risks, which is what active learning looks like. Questions are the lifeblood of our learning process. Children are encouraged and expected to look at all things with curiosity: a new text, a new friend, a natural phenomenon. They learn to ask their way into deeper relationships. Finally, learning sticks when it is relevant. How is this math theorem applicable to my life? How are these ancient texts relevant today? In what way, and to whom, am I obligated? We take time to understand the concept, to make personal meaning, and to consider real world implications of all we learn.
Our school’s name reflects our conviction that the future of our people depends on the education of our children. When I walk the halls of Beit Rabban I feel confident in the future of our people, and I feel sustained! We would love to welcome your family into this magical chorus of learning and growth.
Head of School
Beit Rabban is an innovative day school, creating a model of an open Jewish learning community of diverse Jewish families all passionately committed to Jewish life. At the heart of our education is a focus on the whole child and an interdisciplinary curriculum that empowers students to master the necessary skills for text-study and problem-solving. Children learn in small groups that emphasize critical inquiry, experiential learning, self-reflection and collaboration. Beit Rabban graduates are responsible and respectful citizens, well equipped for rigorous academic environments and beyond as lifelong Torah learners and independent thinkers.
NON DENOMINATIONAL BY DESIGN
We believe that the future of the Jewish people depends on our children’s ability to forge their own Jewish paths with depth, commitment, and love. As a non-denominational Jewish school committed to empowering our students, we educate toward fluency in text and practice and cultivate passionate and joyful Jewish life. We foster a safe and nourishing space for students to explore and refine their own beliefs. Our Jewish education is rooted in the mesorah, tradition, of “shivim panim la’Torah,” there are seventy faces of the Torah. We embrace a multiplicity of opinions and traditions and foster a nourishing space for students to explore and refine their own beliefs.
We are proud of the diverse Jewish affiliations, practices, and beliefs of our families and staff. Our community shares a mutual respect, commitment to engaged Jewish life, and love of the Jewish people and Israel.
Beit Rabban Day School was founded in 1991 by Dr. Devora Steinmetz, on the premise that “education of children ought to do more than socialize children to be full participants in the society as it is …. schools can and should teach children to participate in and be shapers of a better society.“ Dr. Devora Steinmetz, Founder of Beit Rabban, School and Society.
Since our inception, we have served as a model for a Jewish community with engagement in classical Jewish texts and respect for diversity of opinion at its center. In his book, Vision at Work: The Theory and Practice of Beit Rabban, Daniel Pekarsky describes the foundational elements of the Beit Rabban approach to learning, including critical thinking, imaginative problem solving and intellectual rigor in an engaged community of Jewish learners. We continue to be guided by these founding principles while incorporating cutting edge pedagogical methods.
Initially conceived as a K-5th program, our Gan was added some years later and we opened our middle school in 2019. Known as "The Chativah" (the Hebrew term for middle school is "chativat beinayim"), our 5th-8th grade program was initially developed through a community-wide design thinking process, and now stewards our students through adolescence in an environment of high expectations and menschlichkeit, good character.