By COLlive reporter
Behind the walls of an unassuming single-story building on Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles’ Pico-Robertson neighborhood, you will find dozens of smiling faces and hear the sounds of young children engrossed in learning. Listen a little closer and you will uncover a world filled with Hebrew alphabet, davening and Torah study. What you have discovered is the new Nagel Jewish Academy, a unique Jewish educational program.
The school, which provides after-school classes for Jewish children who attend public school, was pioneered by wealth manager Levi Nagel and his wife Chaiky, Lubavitch residents of Los Angeles, who are passionate about providing a Jewish education for every Jewish child.
With funding provided by Nagel, the school opened its doors for the first time this September, under the leadership of principal Mrs. Chana Leah Margolis, offering after-school classes for Jewish children between the ages of 5 and 10 who do not currently attend a Jewish day school.
It began with a mere twenty students enrolled, but the popularity of the program has seen it grow to well over one hundred students in a matter of weeks.
“The Nagel Jewish Academy was founded with the belief that every Jewish child is entitled to a proper Jewish education, despite the fact that the parents decide not to send their kids to Jewish day school due to financial hardship or otherwise,” explains Margolis.
Nagel Jewish Academy, which is free of charge and accepts all Jewish children regardless of religious affiliation or background, is making Jewish education easily accessible to all. The teaching staff cater to each student’s individual needs and abilities, ensuring that each child receives a Jewish education equal to that of Jewish day schools.
A teacher at the school recalls that one particular student had been having a hard time settling down, so she had taken him out of class for a one-on-one davening session. The student, despite growing up in a religious home, was only able to remember the tune to the Aleinu prayer but he was unfamiliar with the actual words. After a few days of tutoring, the student had grasped all the words, and in his excitement he exclaimed, “I can’t wait to go to Shul on Shabbos and say Aleinu!”
Although the school year only began a few months ago and classes have not been in session for long, teachers have worked hard to provide students with a complete learning experience. During the month of Tishrei, students enjoyed baking their own holiday delicacies and were given the opportunity to take home their own shofar created by the visiting shofar factory. With the Yomim Tovim now over, students are learning how to read and write in Hebrew and are studying Chumash and Parsha according to a Jewish day school curriculum.
One of the goals of Nagel Jewish Academy is to make Jewish learning fun.
“It is imperative that in this day and age children are presented with a positive experience and encouraged to have a positive attitude towards Judaism,” says Mrs. Margolis.
Margolis describes how a young student approached her after class one afternoon asking if he could possibly have his own pair of tzitzit. “It is this enthusiasm that is spreading throughout the Los Angeles Jewish community and encouraging other parents to send their children to Nagel Jewish Academy,” she says. “Parents are rearranging schedules and driving an hour from the valley to ensure their child attends Nagel Jewish Academy.”
Although the school year has already begun, the school has been inundated with applications and calls from interested parents. It has therefore become evident that additional locations are needed to cater for all the extra students. The current location is fully sponsored.
For more information or to register, please call 310-883-4490 or email [email protected].