June 3, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Rabbi Dani Rockoff To Lead WDS

On February 16, Westchester Day School announced that Rabbi Dani Rockoff will be the new head of school, beginning July 2022. In a letter to the community, WDS stated, “This decision received unanimous support of the Head-of-School Search Committee, the professional leadership, the Board of Trustees and our esteemed local Rabbinical leaders.”

Rabbi Rockoff currently serves as K-12 Judaic studies principal and school rabbi of the Denver Academy of Torah. “When I heard about the WDS opportunity, I was very excited,” he said. “My whole career has been devoted to Jewish communal work within education and the community rabbinate. I was a rabbi in Kansas City for many years and involved with the school there. The whole realm of building community, helping Jewish families connect to our tradition, and to view the world around them in a healthy, positive way, is something that always appealed to me.

“WDS seems to have a beautiful spirit, the way they raise kids in their communities, and the menschlichkeit, relationships with their teachers, not to mention, of course, their beautiful 26-acre campus on Long Island Sound. There’s a real openness there, and a sweetness that is very appealing to me.

“WDS is really primed to utilize their beautiful campus,” he continued. “I get the spirit they have—to embrace experiential learning and learning beyond the classroom in a very profound way. Living in Denver, seeing the way people appreciate and utilize the outdoors, was a very eye-opening, enriching experience. Westchester Day School is a place that can educate the whole child and bring out the best in each student, wherever they may fall. It is a real opportunity to continue to capitalize on.”

Explaining what he hopes to add to the community, Rabbi Rockoff said: “I hope to be able to help them find their voice within the Westchester community as an educational institution, to help them innovate, help them move on to their next storied chapter, help them be successful, and help tell their story in a beautiful way to the community.”

His plans include “developing both new and experienced teachers and staff, giving them growth opportunities to be the best professionals they can be in their careers, and making a destination for faculty to be inspired.” Rockoff noted that he loves working with children. “I have taught elementary, middle and high school students. I love having relationships with students and it is something I look forward to.”

Rabbi Rockoff looks forward to “the opportunity to engage in the community, as a whole, serving the whole parent body throughout the various feeder communities. WDS has generations of not just supporters, but people who care about making sure that the school is there to care for their children and their grandchildren. Being able to work daily with these kids, to get to know them in the classroom, getting to know their families and going around the communities is something that I’m drawn to, and very excited for that.”

“We’re very excited for Rabbi Rockoff to serve as our next head of school,” said Aaron Lauchheimer, President of the WDS board. “He has the experience and vision to take WDS to new heights. We can’t wait to start that journey with him.”

Prior to moving to Denver in 2019, Rabbi Rockoff lived in Overland Park, Kansas, where he served as dean of the Matmidim Judaic Studies Program at the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy and congregational rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel Abraham and Voliner (BIAV), a position he held since 2008.

A native of Newton, Massachusetts, he attended Boston’s Maimonides School and Yeshivat Shaalvim in Israel before graduating from Yeshiva University with a degree in psychology. He received semicha from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of YU, where he also earned a master of science in Jewish education from the Azrieli School of Jewish Education and Administration, as well as a master of arts in Bible from the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. He also completed a master of public administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Rabbi Rockoff began his career in education teaching Judaic studies to elementary, middle and high school students at the Bi-Cultural Day School and the Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School. Previously, he completed rabbinic internships at Riverdale Jewish Center and Beverly Hills’ Beth Jacob Congregation, before serving as assistant rabbi of AABJ&D in West Orange. He was program director at the Orthodox Union’s Department of Community and Synagogue Services, both on the West Coast and in New York.

Rabbi Rockoff is married to Ayala Zoltan Rockoff, a special educator and school psychologist; together they have four children: Shai, David Aryeh, Ora and Beni.

By Judy Berger

 

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