Our Kehilah is Starting a New Chapter

New Name, Same Heart

Dear Schechter Westchester Community:

As our school advances toward its 54th year of preparing students to thrive in an evolving world, it is our responsibility both to celebrate our rich heritage and to look ahead to a dynamic future. With this in mind, it is with great excitement that we share with you that as of July 1, 2019, Solomon Schechter School of Westchester will become The Leffell School.

While our name is changing, our heart is not. When our students, faculty, and staff return for the 2019-2020 school year, they will be greeted by new signage on our campuses—but they will be immersed in the same familiar kehilah (community), driven by the same mission, values, commitments, educational philosophies, and Jewish practices that have come to characterize our school over the years.

For more than five decades, we have been motivated by our fervent belief that wholehearted engagement with Judaism can coexist with academic excellence and full immersion in the modern world. While our formal affiliation with the Schechter Day School Network ended in 2016, when it merged with several other groups into Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools, we have retained the distinctive set of Jewish values and principles for which our school has come to be known since its founding.

We are excited to introduce The Leffell School to the broader community as an independent institution and re-affirm our commitment to the core values that have long grounded our approach to education and community-building. In this new chapter, we will continue to provide a welcoming home for all Jewish families, irrespective of denominational affiliation, with whom these values resonate.

Our new name, The Leffell School, honors the extraordinary commitment of a family whose unparalleled dedication, leadership, wisdom, and philanthropy have nurtured our school for decades. Lisa and Michael Leffell have embodied passionate devotion to the institution since their oldest son entered kindergarten in 1992. Michael Leffell has served for more than 20 years on our board of trustees, including 13 as president, leading with inspiration and fortitude through periods of both exciting growth and field-wide challenge.

Eager to ensure that the school, which had offered a program only through eighth grade, would serve students during their formative teenage years, Michael became a pioneering visionary behind the establishment of our High School, which opened in 2001. He worked tirelessly with professional and lay leaders including Headmaster Emeritus Dr. Elliot Spiegel, Lifetime Chairman of the Board M. Mac Schwebel z”l, Gabe Nechamkin, and David Reis to transform our school into an immersive K-12 Jewish educational institution.

The Leffells have dedicated thousands of hours to recruiting students and staff, volunteering in the school, raising funds, and setting the overall direction of the organization, and we continue to turn to them as trusted advisors even years after their children graduated. For over 25 years, Lisa and Michael have also helped to sustain the school through their financial generosity, culminating in their recent commitment to endow their Annual Fund gift, so that generations of families can benefit from their support in perpetuity.

More information on The Leffell School can be found in the detailed FAQ document and the letter from Lisa and Michael Leffell. Additionally, we invite you to join Michael Kay at one of two upcoming town hall meetings, where he will talk in greater detail about our vision for this exciting new era and address any questions that you may have about the transition. These meetings will be held at the Dr. Elliot Spiegel Lower School on Thursday, March 14 at 8:00 a.m. and at the M. Mac Schwebel Upper School on Monday, March 18 at 7:30 p.m.

During the months to come, we look forward to joining with the thousands of members of our school community—students, families, alumni, faculty, staff, lay leaders, contributors, and friends—in honoring the extraordinary history and heritage of Schechter Westchester while planning for an exciting future as The Leffell School.

L'Shalom,

Michael A. Kay, PhD   David Landau
Head of School        
President, Board of Trustees

These words by Rabbi Yishmael, which reflect the essence of our mission, are found in Pirkei Avot. They advise us to lead lives filled with learning, teaching, preservation of our heritage, and social action.

TO LEARN AND TO TEACH, TO OBSERVE AND TO ACT
SOLOMON SCHECHTER
SCHOOL OF WESTCHESTER
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