Rabbi Meir Shapiro, zt”l, leaves behind a towering legacy for the Chicago Jewish community. A legacy of gentle kindness fused with legendary firmness in personal and professional relationships with students, faculty, parents and community leaders were the hallmarks of Rabbi Shapiro’s 40-year tenure as principal of Arie Crown Hebrew Day School.
As his career reached its peak in growing school enrollment and campus expansion there was always a great deal of expectation and pressure focused on higher test scores and technology. But Rabbi Shapiro’s manner of leadership was in creating and nurturing a school environment that emphasized good middos, derech eretz, kindness and respect, endeavoring to assure that this perspective was pervasive throughout the school, while certainly assuring the high quality of academics and imperative progress in technology. He was known for being at the school’s entrance greeting students each morning. A minhag hamakom at Arie Crown to this day, instituted by Rabbi Shapiro, is that students rise when an adult enters the room, whether a teacher, a rebbe or a trash collector.
Rabbi Shapiro was also groundbreaking in the recognition and accommodation of students with special needs. Under his tutelage, Arie Crown was the first school in Chicago to house P’tach, a national program for students with learning disabilities.
He has remained a beacon of light and guidance to the school and the board since his retirement, passing the baton to former Arie Crown graduate and eighth grade rebbe, Rabbi Eli Samber.
Rabbi Shapiro left his “heart-prints” of Torah on all who knew him.
Yehi zichro baruch.
By Ellie Wolf