2018-02-28 / Home

Politz Day School celebrates 50 years of growth and achievement


Politz founder Rabbi Bernard Rothman at the dedication of the Bernard E. Rothman Torah Campus, February 2011. Politz founder Rabbi Bernard Rothman at the dedication of the Bernard E. Rothman Torah Campus, February 2011. Politz Day School in Cherry Hill is turning 50, and the school is celebrating in a big way. Three major events will be taking place in the coming months, as the Modern Orthodox day school marks its evolution from a little more than a dozen nursery school children in 1968 to a school with 200 children that goes from preschool through the eighth grade.

To celebrate the growth of the school, Politz will feature Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, at a Gala Lecture on Wednesday, Mar. 7 at Cong. Beth El in Voorhees. He will speak at 7:30 p.m. on “Will the Next Generation of American Jews Be Up to the Challenge?” His lecture will address a problem he has termed the “negative phenomenon of indifference” among young American Jews. Tickets for the Gala Lecture start at $36, and are available for purchase at politz.org/- lecture or by calling the school at (856) 667-1013.

Politz Day School 7th & 8th graders outside the Knesset in Jerusalem during their recent trip to Israel. Politz Day School 7th & 8th graders outside the Knesset in Jerusalem during their recent trip to Israel. On Tuesday, May 8, a Gala Dinner will honor Rabbi Bernard Rothman, founder of Politz; Herb Caskey, after whose parents the school’s Resource Room and the Elementary School are named; and Samuel and Faygie Konig, Holocaust survivors for whom the Middle School is named. The Gala will also recognize Arlynne Sammons, a teacher at the school, and Marilyn Mindel, a longtime supporter of Politz.

The third event will be a community-wide 5K run/- walk-a-thon to be held on Sunday, June 10 at Cooper River Park.

“This is very exciting. In the last several years the school has grown by leaps and bounds,” said Sabrina Spector, Politz president. She said that Politz is attracting students from across the spectrum, religiously, as well as from throughout the community. “We’re bursting at the seams,” she said, adding that the school is about to break ground on a beautiful gym.

“For me as a parent and as president, it is exciting to see all the things that are percolating and coming down the pipeline,” said Spector.

Spector said that this 50th anniversary year would highlight what a special place Politz is to the entire community. “We’re such an amazing place. Our kids are really flourishing. Our school is thriving. We have so much to offer,” she said. “I’m eager to let the best kept secret out,” said Spector.

Dr. Yaakov Bagley, co-chair of Politz’s 50th Anniversary Committee with Jamie Dollinger, said that Politz is celebrating the founding of an institution that gives its students the basics they need to grow up with as proud Jews and Zionists despite the increase in anti-Semitism world-wide and despite the high percentage of assimilation and intermarriage. He said the growth of Politz, with its upcoming $3-million addition of a gym, classrooms, and other facilities, is a sign of just how Politz is growing.

Bagley said that the growth of day school education is a trend that is undeniable. “People are more and more cognizant these days of the value of a solid Jewish day school education in fighting the many trends in our society and nurturing a future generation of proud Jewish men and women who will value their heritage.”

“This is a credit to Rabbi Rothman, the school’s founder, and the many lay and professional people who have worked for the school over the past 50 years,” said Bagley, who noted the planned 50th anniversary events are designed for the entire community to be able to participate in the celebration.

“It is such a family. I’m so happy there. I really do love the school,” said 50th Anniversary Co-chair Jamie Dollinger, who currently has three children attending Politz. She said that the secular learning is fantastic. “The Judaic learning, in addition to being so detailed, is so full of love,” said Dollinger. She added that the children know the teachers and are invited to their weddings. It is a beautiful experience. The children learn what it means to live a Jewish life in the classroom and out of the classroom.”

Dollinger said the 50th anniversary celebration is an opportunity to both look back and thank the people who built the school as well as look forward to partnerships and collaborations with other parts of the South Jersey Jewish community. “We can use this milestone of our 50th year as a launch to let the rest of the South Jersey community know how great we are, the level of incredible learning, and the diversity of the school within Orthodoxy,” she said.

“The beauty of being 50 years old is you have the depth of experience, the breadth of knowledge of what happens to children—the educational tradition, plus what is evolving— how to build for the future, the technology, and the social changes,” said current Head of School Rabbi Avraham Glustein of the constantly evolving educational scene. He said that building on the school’s excellent staff and traditions enables the school to embrace technology, online teaching platforms for one-toone learning, and collaborative learning.

As an example, Glustein pointed to the current expansion, which will include a makerspace/ STEAM lab. “Politz is embracing the future, but is also rooted in Jewish and educational tradition,” he said.

Politz Day School was founded in Camden in 1968, said Rabbi Bernard Rothman, the founder and first principal of the school. He said that it started with a little more than a dozen children in preschool. The following year it moved into a house on Cooper Landing Road in Cherry Hill, which was serving as a branch of Cong. Sons of Israel. “The shul itself moved to Cherry Hill in 1971,” said Rothman.

Rothman said that there had been a community Jewish day school in Camden that was founded by Rothman’s predecessor at Cong. Sons of Israel, Rabbi Naftoly Riff, and Cong. Beth El Rabbi Harry Kellman, but that had folded in the 1950s. Rabbi Kellman later founded what would be named Kellman Academy in his honor. It later became Kellman Brown Academy. Rothman said that Orthodox families were sending their children to school in Philadelphia and there was a desire for an Orthodox day school in Cherry Hill.

From its beginnings in Camden, the school has grown. One reason, said Rothman, is that today in the Orthodox community day school education is a given. Rothman, who later became dean of the school, said that he and the school leadership over the years always cultivated excellence, looking for the best teachers in both Jewish and secular studies. “We strive to make it as advanced and innovative as possible,” he said, noting that the school has been recognized by the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE).

“Our parental leadership works hand-in-hand with Rabbi Glustein and Marilyn Roth,” said Rothman of Head of School Rabbi Avraham Glustein and General Studies Director Marilyn Roth. Rothman added that people from throughout the community have brought their skills to Politz’s leadership. “In every sphere, you need outstanding people who give their heart to the school,” he said.

Rothman said that Politz is one of the reasons people are attracted to the community. The school, he said, has a very bright future.

For more information, contact Politz Day School at (856) 667-1013. 

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