April 19, 2024
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April 19, 2024
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Heichal HaTorah Joins Ranks of Local High Schools

Heichal HaTorah opens in Teaneck at the start of this upcoming academic year with 17 students who are making the most of it. Operating under the auspices of Rosh Yeshiva Rav Aryeh Stechler, the new institution aims to offer a meaningful Yeshiva environment with top notch general studies.

“We will be using different educational methods and creating an environment that doesn’t exist here,” Stechler said.

Stechler, who spent the last seven years working at Ramaz, has an ideology focused on an integrated environment looking at growth rather than assessing knowledge. Focusing on knowledge as many schools do is “missing the point.” “They have this an educational model they’re locked into——whereas the model we’re bringing into the community is one that uses Torah to inspire,” Stechler said.

The Heichal model involves school Sunday through Friday with monthly Shabbos programming. Days include Beit Midrash and Chavrusah-style learning in addition to “Ramaz level general studies” and plenty of gym time.

“His schedule maximizes time,” says Yitz Motechin, Bergenfield resident and parent of an incoming student.

Stechler didn’t wait for his school’s doors to open to begin maximizing time; he and other staff members began meeting with incoming students months ago, gathering their input and building relationships with them.

“It’s the first year of their formal schooling there, but they’ve been effectively part of Heichal HaTorah for many months now,” Motechin said.

As a first year school, Heichal HaTorah does not yet have accreditation. However, Dr. Jon Jucovy, the school’s educational consultant for secular studies, has been involved in the process of assisting a number of schools with accreditation in the past. Additionally, Stechler plans for the students to take as many standardized tests as possible to assure both the community and the accreditation board that general studies will be at a high level.

Even with the plans for standardized testing, Stechler does not want education at his school to be about tests because, in his experience, students “check out” the moment they hear material is not on a test. “If the test is what inspires students to work hard, you’ve already failed,” Stechler said.

Inspiration is the school’s number one goal followed by development of Gemara and Jewish learning skills, as well as delivering a first rate general education.

“We want to create a hierarchy in the students’ minds where all three goals three are important and must be done,” Stechler said.

The school will be located in the Teaneck Jewish Center which is already outfitted with classrooms, laboratories, a gym and a pool. The building has served in the past as a school incubator…with Rosenbaum Yeshiva North Jersey once renting the facilities after they moved to Bergen County from Union City. Renting facilities is part of Stechler’s plans to keep school costs down. Also, using a Yeshiva model for the administration and having chavrusa learning in place of some frontal teaching means that there will be less salary costs.

Tuition is $18,000- an amount that includes all fees, trips, transportation and a laptop for each student. Certain fees go toward club night where students will be able to learn things like robotics and culinary arts—two topics chosen by incoming students when they met with Stechler over the last few months.

“The institution already has their initials in the cement,” Motechin said about the students.

By Aliza Chasan

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