On Motzei Shabbat, Jan. 7, 2023, Yavneh Academy will hold its 80th annual dinner at the Teaneck Marriott at Glenpointe. This year’s honorees are first grade teacher Laya Levine, super-volunteer Michelle Frohlich and guests of honor Adam and Robbie Fried.
Faculty Award recipient Laya Levine is a first grade teacher of Yavneh Academy’s legendary 1A class. Since its inception, Levine has dedicated herself to this groundbreaking model that allows her students to rejoice at their success every single day. Her classroom has been described as a true model of chanoch l’naar a pi darko, educating the youth according to his way, and she has created unforgettable experiences for her students that are sure to stay with them forever.
“For over two decades I have dedicated myself to nurturing the success of each child and teaching every child according to their needs and learning style. I use the multisensory approach in all areas of learning and my room is filled with joyful songs, hands-on material, movement, and creative projects. Helping each child shine and grow is what inspires me.”
Some of the innovations she has introduced include integrating the KIBO robotics program which, year after year, has instilled in her students a love and proficiency for STEM at a very young age. For the yearly Harvest Festival, Levine decorates the classroom to evoke the feeling of being at the very first Thanksgiving, while her global projects, including Dot Day and the Global Read Aloud, give her students the rare opportunity to connect with other children from all over the country.
Her passion for teaching is evident in every area of the classroom and she is constantly there to cheer her students on and celebrate their achievements and milestones with them. “Yavneh is really my second home and it is a place where teachers are always growing and learning. I feel grateful that I have worked with talented colleagues throughout my years at Yavneh who have enriched my life and taught me so much.”
“It is inspiring to take pause and reflect on the tremendous impact Laya has had on her students over the past quarter century at Yavneh. She has shaped lives through her unique talent, style and passion,” said Yavneh Head of School Rabbi Knapp.
Super-mom and super-wife to Aiden (‘21) and Hailey (‘22) and Richard, Service Recipient award-winner Michelle Frohlich is being recognized for her incredibly generous, tireless and unending dedication to Yavneh. With a warm smile and gigantic heart, Frohlich has availed herself to the Yavneh community at every opportunity since moving to Bergen County in 2016.
“When we moved to New Jersey, Yavneh really welcomed us with open arms. It’s such a warm and friendly environment that gives so much to its community, from Rabbi Knapp and the administration, to the teachers, and the YPAA. Just as they gave to us and our children, we wanted to give back to them.”
There is no end to the list of ways in which she has devoted her time and efforts, all while working full-time as pediatric physical therapist. From organizing quarantine deliveries and Yavneh Parent Color War, to the epic Yavneh Yom Ha’atzmaut family event she helped establish, and her incredibly ingenious mishloach manot packages, Michelle has also served as a Yavneh parent ambassador, chaired fun runs and served on several dinner committees.
“For us it was also important to show our children how to actively give back. Even if they didn’t always appreciate having to stay super late at school after a Chesed event. Of course everyone’s lives are busy with kids and work, but there’s always something you can do and it’s often as simple as saying “here’s what I’m good at; how can that be of help?” She says that volunteering also allowed her to meet new people and make lifelong friends who she may not have met had she not gotten involved.
“They say it takes a village. And I was blessed to be part of that Yavneh village. Thank you to Rabbi Knapp, Yavneh and to all the volunteers that give so much of their time.”
Rabbi Knapp shared, “One of the hardest parts of this year’s dinner is not having Michelle as one of the forces behind the scenes. [When] the Frohlichs joined Yavneh, Michelle jumped right in and has been a volunteer extraordinaire ever since. She has a vision that reflects a creative flair and also the skill and knowledge to bring [her] ideas to fruition.”
Guests of honor Robbie and Adam Fried are the proud parents of four Yavneh graduates: Rachel, (’14), Elianna (’15), Julia (’18), and Maya (’18),
“Yavneh has been our home and extended family from the time our oldest child started Yavneh 18 years ago until today. Yavneh has been much more than just a school to our family. We and our children have built a community and lifelong friends at Yavneh,” they shared.
Both Robbie and Adam have served Yavneh in a number of capacities. Robbie has served as chair of the recruitment committee, a member of the dinner committee, and provided guidance and leadership in areas including board training, development and recruitment. Adam has been a member of the board of directors since 2007, holding numerous leadership positions including chair of the finance committee and a member of the executive, employment, endowment and strategic planning committees. In his most recent role he served as the president of the board of directors from 2018-2022.
“To us this award is truly a celebration of all the people who helped Yavneh through the difficult COVID period and who continue to strive to make the school the home that it is today. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated and talented administration and parent body, and through this partnership Yavneh is able to excel.”
While Adam became involved in the Teaneck sports leagues where he coached his girls in both soccer and softball, Robbie graciously brought her love of mahjong to the Yavneh community, organizing games and patiently teaching would-be players at Yavneh golf outings and YPAA events.
“We love the ruach and spirit of Yavneh—the enthusiasm and excitement permeates the halls on a daily basis, led by our outstanding administration and teachers. It has the perfect combination of a legacy of success, but yet still on the forefront of adaptation and change. Children graduate from Yavneh not only with lifelong learning skills, but also a strong sense of midot and connection to Judaism. We saw this firsthand with all four of our daughters being graduates and successfully navigating their next steps.”
“The Yavneh community is incredibly fortunate to have Robbie and Adam as dear friends and extraordinary leaders. Together, over the past decade plus, they have shaped and guided so many aspects of the Yavneh experience. … They are a true team and Yavneh has been a labor of love for them. They are most befitting [of] our accolades and gratitude as our guests of honor this year,” expressed Rabbi Knapp.
To make a reservation to attend the dinner or to make a donation visit:
To learn more about Yavneh visit www.yavnehacademy.org.
By Ronit Mershon