Fourteen years ago, Clifton Cheder opened its doors to the Passaic-Clifton community. Its mission was to create a nurturing environment for children ages 2 through grade eight, incorporating a love of Torah and mitzvot and inculcating chesed and middot tovot. Today, due to its success in implementing these goals, Clifton Cheder is home to approximately 250 children representing 129 families, and growing.
On Labor Day 2020, amidst the restrictions of the pandemic and the uncertainty of the future, Clifton Cheder opened its new state-of-the-art
facility for the preschool and boys’ divisions on Broad Street, in the Montclair Heights neighborhood of Clifton. The interior of the building was completely retrofitted with spacious classrooms, a roomy beit midrash, a sizable gym, a kitchen and dining area, and outdoor sports facilities.
Both the preschool and the boys’ divisions, as well as the Bais Yaakov, grades one through four, which continues to be housed at the school’s previous 123 Industrial Street East location for now, are heavily focused on the social-emotional wellbeing of every child. The proven social and emotional learning model (SEL) is implemented across the grades, synthesizing self-awareness and management, relationship building, social awareness and responsible decision-making as an integral part of middot development and adaptation. The administration has developed and incorporated the Nurtured Heart Approach, first introduced and presented to staff two years ago by Naftali and Yael Walfish with the Center for Greatness. The faculty has willingly and effectively adopted this script through which children are complimented on their behaviors, academic and non-academic, setting a tone of positivity and resulting in less need for traditional discipline. The Love and Logic and Conscious Discipline methodologies are also implemented in the classrooms. Literacy is achieved through systematic, explicit and cumulative instruction. The DRA guided reading assessment and the Ready Diagnostic testing system guide the individualized reading programs.
The Judaic instruction incorporates Shabbat-related programs including Shnayim-Mikra, Taam Shabbat and an Erev Shabbat Kumsitz. An Eretz Chemda program focusing on mitzvot is live streamed by a rebbe in Israel. The Middos Matter Program features a Middah of the Month, which is reinforced across the school through inter-grade activities. For example, the seventh and eighth grade students coach the younger grades in organized sports activities.Trips to visit with gedolei Yisroel, matzah bakeries, nursing homes, tashlich and the 39 Melachos Historic Village are planned throughout the academic year. Parents are included in a host of activities including siyumim, fairs and events.
Rabbi Yosef Seldowitz has been menahel for the past four years, while Rabbi Shalom Kamenetsky has served as moreh derech. The menahelet of the Bais Yaakov girls’ school is Rivkie Teitz.
Rabbi Elimelech Rosenberg, director of development at Clifton Cheder, shared his view of the uniqueness of the Clifton Cheder in its approach to its students: “Our school is genuine, positive and responsive to students and their needs. We collaborate constantly and actively with families, ensuring the spiritual, social and emotional health of every student. Our dedicated staff go above and beyond to connect, nurture and inspire through personal role modeling and tailor-made curricula. We truly stand out in the community as a school that is uniquely energetic, idealistic, and never complacent with mediocrity. Now housed in a beautiful new facility, we hope to, please God, produce graduates who will go on to perpetuate the learning, ideals and mesorah of our people.”
To learn more about Clifton Cheder and Bais Yaakov of Clifton, and opportunities to support its growth, contact Rabbi Elimelech Rosenberg at [email protected].
By Pearl Markovitz