Yeshivat Noam opened its doors 18 years ago to 54 students in its first location at 139 South Washington Avenue in Bergenfield, New Jersey. Today, Yeshivat Noam has over 800 students and is located at 70 West Century Road in Paramus, New Jersey. What started as four small classrooms has evolved into a 5.5-acre campus including over 50 classrooms, a beautiful beit knesset, two large gymnasiums, two science labs, a music center and art center, indoor and outdoor playgrounds and basketball courts.
Since its founding, the school logo has been a tree, symbolizing the pasuk “deracheha darchei noam, v’chol netivoteha shalom,” meaning “her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace.” In the 18 years since its founding, Yeshivat Noam has grown from a small bud into a fully grown tree, unwavering in its commitment to the academic, social, emotional well-being of the Yeshivat Noam student. The result is laughter in the classrooms and smiles in the hallways.
In celebration of this milestone, we take a look at Yeshivat Noam then and now.
Almost 20 years ago there was a community meeting to address the shortage of space in the Bergen County Orthodox day schools. Rabbi Benjamin Yudin of Fair Lawn was a driving force and recruited Heshy Mortkowitz, Ed Gerstley and others to shepherd the new school into existence. Additional founding and early leaders of Yeshivat Noam include David Blumenthal, Sam Fishman, Robert Friedman, Naomi and Marc Knoller, Cheryl and Yussie Leiser, Miriam and Danny Michael, Shari and Nathan Lindenbaum and Batya and Nachman Paul.
While a main impetus for the opening of the school was to alleviate crowding at all the Bergen County Orthodox day schools, Yeshivat Noam also set out to create a school based on a mission comprised of six core principles. These six principles, Centrality of the Child, Derech Eretz, Love of Torah, Academic Excellence, Commitment to Israel and Ivrit B’Ivrit and Parent Partnership, were crafted by Yeshivat Noam’s founding principal and current head of school Rabbi Chaim Hagler along with a steering committee of communal leaders and future parents. As Gabi Altman, founding parent and current parent today, recalls, “Rabbi Hagler used to walk around with a little folded-up piece of paper in his pocket…of the mission statement, he used to take out the paper and show everyone his vision for the school…and he never strayed from his vision and mission.”
Soon enough it was September 2001 and the first day of school was nearing. Parents from the early years remember the feeling of everyone rolling up their sleeves and helping the school open. Naomi Knoller, a founding parent and board member, recalls, “On the Saturday night prior [to the first day of school], all the parent volunteers came to the building on South Washington Ave. to basically put the classrooms together. We unpacked boxes and put the furniture together. At midnight, we stopped working and had Selichot in the building; we were down to the wire, and everyone just showed up and lent a hand.”
In the early years, Yeshivat Noam held classes in Teaneck Jewish Center as well as Temple Emanuel in Woodcliff Lake as well as in the Bergenfield building, and for a brief period in all three locations. It was not until 2011 that the entire school was on the same campus in the two buildings at 70 West Century Road in Paramus. The generosity of hundreds of donors made the dream of a campus a reality. The middle school building dedication was donated by Becky and Avi Katz in memory of their grandparents, Frieda and Munysz Grossman. Alissa and Shimmie Horn generously dedicated the Judaic studies program in memory of Shimmie’s grandmother, Genia Horn.
The students of the opening year of the school graduated Yeshivat Noam in the year 2010, and since then 695 students have graduated from Yeshivat Noam. Walking around the Yeshivat Noam campus today it is hard to imagine the small school that began only 18 years ago. Credit for that growth goes to an incredibly dedicated administration, faculty and parent body. As Tamar Rothenberg, current parent and board member, said, “What’s unique about the school…is that the administration, the teachers, the faculty
create this extremely warm environment for the students…which makes them prepared to succeed academically.”
Indeed, numerous current teachers are founding teachers in the school, and with their tireless dedication to Yeshivat Noam’s mission have helped fuel the growth of the school. The teachers have had significant impacts on the students of Yeshivat Noam, and many alumni keep in touch with their Yeshivat Noam teachers today.
According to founding principal and Head of School Rabbi Chaim Hagler, “I feel blessed and proud of what Yeshivat Noam has become. I am most proud of the middot of our students, our academic excellence, the creativity of our programming and our constant goal to help each student reach his/her potential.” In celebration of the 18th chai year, this week Yeshivat Noam hosted “Yom Ruach” Spirit Day beginning with a LIVE JM in the AM broadcast with the Nachum Segal Network and continued with a day of festivities including a choir performance, face painting, relay races and spirit-themed academic lessons. The day culminated with a school-wide parade and banner presentations.
Yeshivat Noam is now accepting applications to be part of this incredible school. Contact Esther Feil, director of admissions, to set up your tour, at (201) 261-1919 x220 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Save the date to celebrate with Yeshivat Noam at the 18th Anniversary Chai Dinner on Wednesday, March 6.