Monday, June 01, 2020

(Courtesy of Solomon Schechter School of Westchester) Effective July 1, 2019, Solomon Schechter School of Westchester will become The Leffell School. 

“While our name is changing, our heart is not,” said Dr. Michael Kay, head of school. “When our students, faculty and staff return next 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 overall mission, values, commitments, educational philosophies and Jewish practices that have come to define our school over the years.”

The school, which now serves more than 780 students on two campuses, has been a fixture in the Westchester community for 53 years. Its formal affiliation with the Schechter Day School Network ended in 2016 when that network merged with several other groups into Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools. The school leadership believes that the name change will enable the school to broaden its appeal without fundamentally altering its core principles or program. 

“We are excited to introduce The Leffell School to the wider community as an independent institution and reaffirm 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,” said David Landau, president of the school’s board of trustees. 

The new name, The Leffell School, honors the decades-long commitment to the school of Lisa and Michael Leffell and their family. Lisa and Michael 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 they remain trusted advisors even years after their four children graduated. Michael has served for more than 20 years on the school’s board of trustees, including 13 as president, and he was instrumental in the establishment of the school’s high school in 2001. 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.   

“Our kids have played together, prayed together, studied together and celebrated Shabbat and holidays together,” said Lisa Leffell, of the sense of community and shared experiences which she feels are the essence of the school. “This community has been amazing for our family, and it continues to bring a tremendous feeling of closeness and warmth to our lives.”

“The mission of The Leffell School will continue to be one of celebration and inclusion of the vibrant differences in our community while exemplifying and teaching the Jewish learning and traditions that unite us,” said Headmaster Emeritus Dr. Elliot Spiegel, who led the school from 1980 through 2013. “It is exciting to witness the ongoing growth of an institution whose vision continues to embrace families who share our commitment to the belief that Judaism can coexist with full immersion in the modern world. We believed then and continue to believe now that academic excellence can thrive alongside the celebration of traditional Jewish observance, culture, text and language, as well as the land, people and State of Israel.”

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