Ohr Chadash Setting New Roots

Second-grade teacher Mary Sue Rubenstein uses a globe for a geography lesson. Students point out countries they have been to and where the equator goes, and learn about North and South America. (David Stuck)

Second-grade teacher Mary Sue Rubenstein uses a globe for a geography lesson. Students point out countries they have been to and where the equator goes, and learn about North and South America. (David Stuck)

Ohr Chadash Academy will be moving to a new space for the 2014-2015 school year to accommodate its growing size.

The K-8 Orthodox day school will be moving to the second floor of Temple Oheb Shalom, the former home of the Shoshana S. Cardin School, which closed in 2013. Ohr Chadash, which has been open since 2011, currently operates out of the JCC on Park Heights Avenue.

“The fact that we’re able to move is really proof that Ohr Chadash is a thriving school,” said board member Terri Rosen, the school’s marketing chair. “By moving, it will allow us to expand our educational and recreational programming, which will make our school even more attractive to parents.”

The new space is about 15,000 square feet and could accommodate around 20 classrooms, depending on how much space is used for administrative offices and other needs, said Ken Davidson, executive director of Oheb Shalom. With movable walls, the space offers flexibility in configurations.

“The thought process behind it being built that way is schools change and need change,” explained Davidson. “It was designed and was always conceived as educational space.”

With the space vacant since last June, Oheb Shalom has been able to renovate and clean up the space, Davidson said.

While Oheb Shalom is a Reform congregation and Ohr Chadash an Orthodox school, both organizations see the partnership as a positive development.

“Each of [our boards] came up with the same thought independently, that rather than be a conflict, this could be an opportunity for us to create relationships and hopefully improve relationships,” said Davidson.

Ohr Chadash will also offer a pre-kindergarten class through Oheb Shalom’s Learning Ladder program, giving students and parents opportunities to interact with each other.

The new space will allow Ohr Chadash to have a computer lab with more than 20 computers, a science lab and more administrative office space, as well as access to outdoor fields and courts for soccer, football, basketball and tennis, said Rabbi Moshe Margolese, the school’s acting principal.

Margolese attributed the school’s growth to its educational approach and its intimate atmosphere, with classes of about 20 students or less.

“Ohr Chadash prides itself on excellence in education in both Hebrew subjects and general education subjects and a balanced approach on meeting each kid’s needs but still having that community feel,” he said. “I think people like the balance that we have, and I think people like the realness that you feel when you come here.”

Rena Einbinder said her daughter, who is in the second grade at Ohr Chadash, loves the school, and as a parent, she appreciates the educational
approach.

“The teachers try to find the holiness in general studies as well as [in] Judaic studies,” she said. “They approach everything from a Jewish point of view.”

“There’s a warmth here,” said Becky Reeves, school coordinator. Her youngest son attends the school, and while he once dreaded going to school, he now comes home happy, looking forward to the next school day.

A recent fundraiser raised almost $80,000 thanks to a matching donation.

“It was a huge energy builder for our school,” said Rosen. “All that fundraising, obviously, is really going to help us make the program more excellent.”

mshapiro@jewishtimes.com

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