By Deb Silverthorn
The start of the 2021-2022 school year brought a new entry to the Jewish day school offerings in the Metroplex, the Cheder Lubavitch Dallas. With 21 students from Dallas, Fort Worth, Frisco and Plano in kindergarten through grade four, as of its opening, the school plans to add a grade, each year, through grade eight.
“We’ve taken the plunge and it is our mission to share what the Rebbe taught,” said Rabbi Aharon Simon, the school’s principal, referring to Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, who led the Chabad movement until his death in 1994.
“There are 20 shluchim now in the area with a growing Chabad community in North Dallas and many of them have young families with children of school age and, coming together, Cheder Lubavitch Dallas is now a wonderful reality,” Simon added.
Shluchim, emissaries, are Lubavitch couples who settle in an area to do Jewish outreach and promote Jewish education for other Jews. Rebbe Schneerson taught that “education should not be limited to the acquisition of knowledge and preparation for a career. Education should teach a child how to live a better life, not only for the individual but for the advancement of society as a whole.”
“The Metroplex has become increasingly popular as a strong Jewish community and with that growth comes the opportunity for new academic possibilities,” Simon said.
Cheder Lubavitch Dallas was founded by an advisory board composed of Rabbi Eli Block, Rabbi Levi Dubrawsky, Rabbi Levi Gurevitch, Rabbi Mendy Kesselman and Rabbi Moshe Naparstek; talk of opening the school began nearly five years ago.
“We’re thrilled to have enough families here now to sustain such an educational system,” said Block, whose daughter Chana is in kindergarten. “It is a privilege to be able to engage our children in the culture, philosophy and learning — the full experience — as passed through the Rebbe.
“Rabbi Simon is energetic and passionate and completely child-focused,” said Block. “Everything he does is centered on each child and what is the very best for them.”
Cheder Lubavitch Dallas’ faculty includes Dallas native Manya Dubrawsky Zajac and Chabad shluchim, emissaries, from throughout the Metroplex. Also working at the school are Mookah Hecht, Chana Mandel and Chana Parsnick as well as Boruch DuBrow, who moved to Dallas this year.
“I love my school. We’ve watched videos and made scrapbooks about the history,” said fourth grade student Mushka Dubrawsky. “I like learning about how the Rebbe taught and was so kind and the history of Jews coming to the United States.”
Nosson Kesselman, in the second grade, also loves his school. “Chumash is my favorite, and the teachers make everything we do fun. I really like learning about the parsha,” said Nosson. His brother Zalman, in kindergarten, echoed the sentiments, adding that he “love[s] lunch, math and learning the letters, vowels, sounds and the rules about them” so that he can read.
Simon, leading the academic team of religious and secular studies, comes to Cheder Lubavitch Dallas from his role as middle school principal at Yeshiva Darchai Menachem, which supports students with behavioral and academic challenges. He was raised in a suburb of Albany, New York, where his parents, Clara and Rabbi Nachman Simon, are the directors of the Chabad House of Delmar in New York.
“Dallas has been a great fit for us. We knew no one when we first came to visit last May but everyone has been so approachable, so welcoming and so kind,” said Simon, who made the move last August with his wife Rivka and their children Chana Rosa, Moussia and Kayla. “We are so impressed by the integration of the Jewish community, of the socialization and connections and how people work together — it’s really beautiful and we look forward to being a great part of that.”
After the students were assessed at the beginning of the year, Simon is proud of how far many of them have come in their ability to read Hebrew. Some came in not knowing the aleph-bet, and most (grade one and above) are now reading with 90% to 100% accuracy. In addition to learning core curriculum, the students have dance, arts and crafts, holidays including those on the Hasidic calendar not so recognized by others and more. Adding courses each semester, including coding, Rabbi Simon hopes in the next year to have the school accredited.
“The core of education lies in acquiring good character traits,” said Rebbe Schneerson. To the next generation those traits are being shared from aleph to taf.
For more information, visit chederdallas.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.