- Yavneh Day School (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Yavneh Day School located in
Cincinnati, Ohiois an independent private K-7 Jewish day schoolthat caters to all Jewish denominationsand to affiliated as well as unaffiliated Jewish families. [ [http://www.yavneh.org/ Yavneh Day School web site] ] The school was founded in 1952 at a time when Jewish Americans had started to become more receptive to full-time Jewish schooling for their children.
The school is subdivided into a Preschool, Lower School, and Middle School. It emphasizes both
Jewish studiesand general secular studies. It was announced in January 2008, that the school would be changing its name in the future in honor of Dr. S. Sunner Rockwern who donated four million dollars to its endowment. The school is still officially Yavneh Day School and doing business asRockwern Academy.
Context and history
The roots of the school's origins are intertwined with the
history of the Jews in Cincinnati. Many Jewish educational institutions were created and merged, and continue to do so, and Yavneh was part of that process:
:The roots of the Cincinnati Community Hebrew School may be traced to founding of the Talmud Torah Society on March 1, 1887, with the purpose of providing Orthodox religious instruction for poor Jewish children… In 1901, the Society expanded… with tuition fees for those who could pay while an Orthodox female Sabbath School began in 1902. Classes were conducted in Yiddish until 1904. Schools served both Jewish children whose parents joined synagogues as well as the unaffiliated… Beth Am (founded in 1948) merged with the
Talmud TorahAssociation in 1953. They were supported by the Jewish Welfare Fund… In 1966, the Hebrew Day Schools merged with Yavneh Day School, bringing Hebrew Day Schools into Cincinnati Community Hebrew Schools. In 1970, the CCHS reorganized, with the Cincinnati Community Hebrew Schools serving as an umbrella agency… [ [http://www.americanjewisharchives.org/aja/FindingAids/cchs.htm American Jewish Archives: Cincinnati Community Hebrew Schools Records Manuscript Collection No. 51, 1956-1992] ] Cincinnati is the home city for Reform Judaism's Hebrew Union Collegeits central rabbinical school. Part of the main tenets of classical American Reform as espoused by the Pittsburgh Platformwas to reject the ways of Orthodoxy [ [http://ccarnet.org/Articles/index.cfm?id=39&pge_id=1606 "The Pittsburgh Platform" - 1885] ] and part of that was to send the children of their affiliated synagogues to secular public schools and to receive Jewish education at temple "Sunday schools" instead. Therefore the introduction of all-day Jewish schooling should be seen as highly significant in the midst of a city that was the bastion of Reform Judaism.
The school's history reflects the evolution and the struggles of Cincinnati's Jewish community. After its founding in 1952 it faced an uphill battle to recruit students and retain its strength as a school:
:Over the years, Yavneh faced many challenges to its future, but perhaps none was as great as the constant pressure to merge with another Jewish day school, Chofetz Chaim. The first overture from Chofetz Chaim came in 1959, when Rabbi
Eliezer Silvertried to force a merger with Chofetz Chaim by summoning... to a rabbinical court of arbitration, or "Din Torah," to discuss his demand to absorb Yavneh's student body into that of Chofetz Chaim...A committee met in December of 1961 to discuss a merger, but talks foundered over a choice of school directors. [ [http://www.yavneh.org/documents/50thjournal.pdf Yavneh 50th Journal: Chapter Two: The Early Years. (pdf)] ]
Yavneh subsequently merged with Beth Am and Talmud Torah to form the Cincinnati Community Hebrew Schools (CCHS) [ [http://www.yavneh.org/documents/50thjournal.pdf Yavneh 50th Journal: Chapter Two: The Early Years. (pdf)] ] a move that reflected that the Yavneh leadership had rejected the overtures of the strictly Orthodox line of Rabbi Eliezer Silver and was moving towards and an aligment with the non-Orthodox part of the Jewish community. During the 1970s there was a short-lived merger with the Cincinnati Hebrew Day school after which the school experienced greater enrollment. [ [http://www.yavneh.org/documents/50thjournal.pdf Yavneh 50th Journal: Chapter Two: The Early Years. (pdf)] ]
Function and support
As a mark of its strategic importance to the Jews of Cincinnati it has been extremely successful in recent years in its fundraising. It has the won significant support from the
Jewish Federationof Cincinnati, the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, the AVI CHAI Foundation, and the the Jewish Funders Network (an international organization of family foundations, public philanthropies, and individual funders dedicated to advancing the quality and growth of philanthropy rooted in Jewish values) [ [http://www.jfunders.org/about Jewish Funders Network; About Us] ] among many others. [ [http://www.yavneh.org/giving/support.htm Yavneh Day School: Foundation and Corporate Support] ]
Change of name
As of January 2008 it was announced that:
:A $4 million gift will establish an endowment for Yavneh Day School, which will take on the name of the donor, the
Jewish Federationof Cincinnati said Friday.
:The gift, from the Rockwern Charitable Foundation, will "reinvigorate and secure the future" of the Kenwood school, according to a news release. It also will kick off an effort to increase the endowment to $10 million by 2012.
:In honor of the donation, the school will be renamed the Rockwern Academy, the Federation said.
:"Rockwern's trustees understand that today a top-quality, independent Jewish day school is an absolute prerequisite for any city that wants to support a vibrant Jewish community," said Shepard Englander, CEO of the Federation, which secured the gift for the school and will manage the endowment.
:The Cincinnati-based Rockwern Charitable Foundation was established by the late Dr. Samuel Rockwern. Yavneh Day School, founded in 1953, has more than 230 children enrolled in pre-school through eighth grade. [ [http://cincinnati.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/stories/2007/12/31/daily41.html "Business Courier", January 4, 2008: Yavneh Day School gets new endowment, new name] ] [ [http://220.127.116.11/search?q=cache:zr2RkOHHGLMJ:news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article%3FAID%3D/20080105/NEWS0102/801050371/1058/back01+Yavneh+Cincinnati&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=8&gl=us "The Enquirer", January 5, 2008: Yavneh Day School given $4M: Officials plan to change name to Rockwern Academy] ] [ [http://www.jewishcincinnati.org/page.html?ArticleID=163878 Jewish Federation of Cincinnati: Rockwern Foundation Makes Unprecedented Gift: $4 Million Gift Will Reinvigorate 55 Year Old School] ]
* In the current (2007-2008) year, Yavneh does not have an eighth grade due to lack of enrollments. Next year, however, things are expected to return to normal.
The Academy of Greater Cincinnatibegan renting from the building for the 2005-2006 school year.
* The main building used to be the now defunct Concord School.
* The school has undergone expansions in the past.
* Yavneh Day School has many of its rooms and lobbies named after donors.
Yavneh Day School (Los Gatos, California)
References and notes
* [http://www.yavneh.org/ Yavneh (Rockwern Academy) in Ohio]
* [http://www.americanjewisharchives.org/aja/FindingAids/cchs.htm History of Jewish education in Cincinnati]
* [http://news.google.com/archivesearch?q=%22Yavneh+Day+School%22 GoogleNews articles about all Yavneh Day Schools in the media]
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