Hebrew Academy names first head of school

Kalman Stein

MONTREAL – Veteran American Jewish educator Kalman Stein has been appointed Hebrew Academy’s first head of school in its 48-year history.

Stein, who is from Teaneck, N.J., joins a leadership team comprising executive director Linda Lehrer, elementary school principal Shauna Joyce and high school principal Laura Segall.

“We are extremely fortunate to have secured one of the top heads of school in North America,” said Hebrew Academy president Shlomo Drazin.

“To be able to say that Dr. Stein is our new head of school, and is here to take us from where we are into the future, is something that we are all extremely excited about.”

A Jewish school administrator for the past 38 years, Stein served as principal of The Frisch School in Paramus, N.J., for 15 years and as headmaster for the past two years. He has also been principal of Maimonides School in Massachusetts and of Hillel Yeshiva High School in New Jersey.

He holds a master’s degree and a PhD in modern European history from Columbia University.

“Out of the blue I received an email from the then-president of Hebrew Academy, Alvin Suissa, who, along with the current president, Shlomo Drazin, and members of the search committee and board, coaxed me over a period of months to consider undertaking one more opportunity and adventure in the world of Jewish education,” said Stein, who had been planning to enter semi-retirement as a consultant for Frisch and another yeshiva high school.

“But it was my visit to Hebrew Academy last November which sealed the deal for me,” he stated. “In just one day, I fell in love with the school.

“As I met with administrators, faculty, lay leaders and, perhaps most important, students, it quickly became apparent to me, not only that Hebrew Academy is the flagship educational institution of modern Orthodoxy in Montreal, but also that it would be a joy and a privilege to work with the school’s professional and lay leaders and faculty to help an already fine school achieve new heights while preserving and fostering its unique environment of warmth, family and community.”

While he does not adhere to one specific educational philosophy, Stein has developed “a core of disparate principles and methods which together create the school environment I believe works best for all of a school’s stakeholders – parents, children, community, faculty, and professional and lay leadership.”

He strongly believes that relations between members of the school community must be based on mutual respect and that schools must be engaged in “ongoing introspection, evaluation, change and improvement.”

Students, he says, deserve to be exposed to “the most sophisticated ideas and level of intellectual discourse,” and modern Orthodox schools need to help young men and women “appreciate this religious way of life as both authentic and meaningful.”

For Lehrer, who is marking her 30th year at the helm of Hebrew Academy, Stein’s arrival represents a significant stage in the school’s evolution.

“At a time when Hebrew Academy is in a position of strength, it is truly icing on the cake for us to be able to welcome Dr. Stein to our family,” she said. “I am eager to work alongside him as we progress along the growth continuum and soar to even higher heights as a school.”