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Head of School

Stephanie Ives has been Head of School since June 2016. Her work is driven by a passion for inspired education and purposeful Jewish community. Immediately prior to joining Beit Rabban, Stephanie served as the NY/Tri-State Director of the New Israel Fund. She previously founded and ran the Department of Education and Community Engagement at American Jewish World Service and consulted in the Jewish and non-profit sectors, including work with Repair the World and Citizens Schools New York. Before moving to New York, Stephanie lived in Boston where she worked at the law firm Goulston & Storrs, P.C. as an associate in the real estate division. While in Boston, Stephanie founded The Washington Square Minyan, an independent synagogue community. After receiving her J.D. from Boston University School of Law, Stephanie clerked on the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., as well as for Justice Aharon Barak on the Supreme Court of Israel. She is also a proud alum of Teach for America, Stern College for Women, and Midreshet Lindenbaum in Jerusalem. Stephanie lives in Riverdale with her husband Yehuda Kurtzer and their children Noah, Jesse, and Sally.

What do you enjoy doing with your time outside of work?
Painting things that are not meant to be painted. Like trees.

What is your favorite Jewish teaching or saying?
וּמִ֣י יוֹדֵ֔עַ אִם־לְעֵ֣ת כָּזֹ֔את הִגַּ֖עַתְּ לַמַּלְכֽוּת
Perhaps it is for such a time as this you ascended to the throne

Tell us something interesting about your family’s Jewish roots.
My father's family believes they were in Baghdad since the destruction of the First Temple.

What has been your most formative Jewish experience?
Camp Moshava, and being involved in the Bnei Akiva youth movement overall.

What was your proudest accomplishment as a child?
I wrote and directed a Chanukah play when I was 8 years old that my class performed on a stage in a local synagogue. This was unquestionably my 15 minutes of fame.

Which elementary school teacher had the biggest impact on you and why?
Shira Smiles. Mrs. Smiles was the first female Torah scholar I met, and she introduced me to love through rigor. She demanded much of her students and gave so much to us as well. Mrs. Smiles embraced questions, even challenging ones, and made me feel that a good question was a Jewish act.

Who or what inspired you to be a teacher?
Serving as a Teach for America corps member at P.S. 173 after I graduated college.

What do you most hope your students learn from you - other than the curriculum?
That they are loved.

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