Friday, April 07, 2006

HAFTR & Rambam - Email to Parents

The following is an email sent to the parents at Rambam and HAFTR:

Are HAFTR and Rambam Merging?

No. HAFTR and Rambam are pooling their educational resources for the benefit of their students. Thus, HAFTR students will get the benefit of the educational leadership of Rabbis Friedman and Eliach, while Rambam students will get the benefit of the Beit Medrash and sports center being built by HAFTR as well as access to HAFTR’s full-time teachers and expanded academic course selection. This pooling of resources will also allow for the establishment of a new, advanced yeshiva program for girls. It is a win- win for the parents and students of both schools as well as for the community at large. Graduates of the Machon will receive, in addition to Machon diplomas, diplomas from their respective schools.

What changes will occur at Rambam?

Actually, very few changes are expected occur. Rambam Division students of the Machon will continue to study in the Rambam building. The size, composition and quality of the student body will remain unchanged, both currently and in the future, although a select number of existing and incoming HAFTR students who meet Rambam’s merit-based admission criteria and are seeking an advanced yeshiva program may elect to transfer over. The rebbeim in the YU Kollel program at HAFTR are expected to become actively involved with the Rambam Division’s Beit Medrash and other programs. Through these young, dynamic YU Kollel rebbeim, the Rambam Division will also be able to offer a larger after-school learning program for students and parents. Rambam students, particularly juniors and seniors, will also be able to select from a broader menu of AP courses and other academic electives. In the longer term, Rambam Division students will be able to enjoy use of an expanded Beit Medrash as well as a new, state-of-the-art sports center, that is targeted to open in time for the 2008-9 academic year. The Machon will also open an all-girls advanced yeshiva division at a separate campus location.

What changes will occur at HAFTR?

As participants in the Machon’s Yachad division, HAFTR high school students will continue to study in the Central Avenue building. The student body will remain essentially unchanged. HAFTR’s senior administrators – Mr. Blumenstein, Mrs. Levenbrown, Mrs. Kadosh and Rabbi Oppen – will remain as part of the Yachad Division. The main changes are expected to be qualitative. Both Rabbi Friedman and Rabbi Eliach are proven educators who are known to place tough demands on both students and staff while, at the same time, providing a dynamic and enriching educational experience. But even the best educators do not have a secret supply of “pixie dust”, so while some impact of their efforts is likely to be felt in the short order, the full effect is likely first to be felt after a number of years of the Machon’s operations. Rabbi Friedman and Rabbi Eliach plan to coordinate their efforts closely with the administrative and educational leadership of HAFTR’s elementary school, so as to ensure that HAFTR’s lower school students are properly prepared for the Machon’s new environment.

Will Rabbi Friedman and Rabbi Eliach be able to handle the demands of running both Machon divisions?

The Rambam administration is being bolstered by the addition of Rabbi Peretz Hochbaum who is an experienced educational administrator. An additional administrator is currently being recruited. They are expected to relieve Rabbis Friedman and Eliach from many of the mundane administrative chores that currently occupy a significant portion of their time at Rambam. The Yachad Division has a group of proven administrators in place to oversee the core administrative needs of that division. Therefore, although Rabbis Friedman and Eliach will be spending time at the Rambam and Yachad campuses, because of the reduced need for their involvement in mundane matters, they will have significantly more “quality time” that can be devoted to personal interaction with the teaching staff and students at each of the Machon’s divisions.

Who will be in control of the Machon?

Rabbi Friedman and Rabbi Eliach will have control over all educational aspects of the Machon. A Machon board of lay representatives from both Rambam and HAFTR has been established to support and advise the educational leadership.

What will happen to my tuition and tuition assistance?

The program of tuition and tuition assistance at the respective schools will continue to apply at the Machon’s respective divisions for all existing and incoming students.

In the future, will the Machon primarily service HAFTR lower school students?

All divisions of the Machon will have a merit-based admissions policy. All graduates of HAFTR’s middle school who meet the Machon’s admission standards will be admitted to the Machon, however the Machon welcomes students from other schools and communities who satisfy its admission standards. Indeed, the Machon’s initial freshman class will be comprised of students from over a dozen schools (other than HAFTR).

How can I learn more?

There will be a special “town meeting” for parents (including parents of incoming students) that will be held after Pesach at which there will be an opportunity to hear more about the Machon and to ask questions of Rabbis Friedman and Eliach. Otherwise, whether you are a Rambam or HAFTR parent, please feel free to call Rabbis Friedman or Eliach at 516-371-5824 extension 105 (for Rabbi Friedman) or 103 (for Rabbi Eliach). They will be happy to speak or meet with you.