A new school year has begun, and with it the usual anticipation and enthusiasm of new beginnings. Students poured into their schools on the first day of school, faces shining, pencils freshly sharpened, and new shoes squeaking, eager to see what the year has in store for them. But there was a special aura of exhilaration in Yeshiva Ahaba Ve Ahava, a Beit Yaakov elementary and high school servicing the Sephardic community, as the students came on the first day and found many of the exciting changes occurring within the school.

Yeshiva Ahaba Ve Ahava Beit Yaakov Sephardi is located in a spacious, beautifully maintained building on East 7th Street and Avenue S in Brooklyn. It is run by the renowned Rabbi Jacob Israel, and his wife, RabbanitSmadar Israel, both of whom are highly respected and active figures in the community. The school specializes in small class sizes and individualized attention given to each student. It has a computer lab, a library, art and gym classes, and a beautiful yard for the students to enjoy.

This year, the school has hired two new principals, Miss Esti Deckelbaum for Judaic studies, and Mrs. Dini Katzenstein (formerly of the high school) for General studies. Both are experienced professionals in the field of education. The new principals work together with an outstanding staff of teachers to educate and inspire the student body.

The Hebrew department, under the guidance of Rabbanit Israel and the dynamic and innovative Miss Deckelbaum, provides
first-rate instruction in a wide array of Jewish topics, and equips students with a working knowledge of the Hebrew language.

The teachers say that the school offers a charming, warm environment in which they can foster a relationship with their students. With smaller class sizes, teachers are able to circulate around the room, checking on each student’s progress individually.

“You might think that running a smaller-sized school would present less of a challenge, but we don’t see it that way,” says Mrs. Katzenstein. “To us, each and every child is a unique individual, and it is our job to ensure every student reaches her full potential. I was hired to raise the educational level of the school, and to make sure we comply with the common core standards. In addition, we are trying to incorporate more extra-curricular activities such as art classes, music, science and history fairs, and contests, which will make school a place that children look forward to attending. Our high school provides an excellent education, as well. Last year we had our first graduating class from our high school, and we are fully certified. Our students did well on their regents, and we feel confident that our current students will do well with the new high school common core curriculum, as well. We work with students who need P3 services and offer tutoring for both elementary and high school students on premises, as well as on-site speech therapy. We are also concerned with making sure that each student experiences a sense of accomplishment regardless of her level. We welcome parental involvement, and invite any prospective new students to come see for themselves all our school has to offer. I am very excited to be on staff and implement new changes to help the school grow. And I am honored to have the privilege to make it happen. We may not be the largest school around, but we dream big!”

As this small but feisty school continues to grow, it is making a strong impression and impact upon the community, one which is sure to continue expanding in the coming years. Meanwhile, the beautiful sounds of young voices raised in prayer and learning reverberate through the hallways, testament to the fact that the new school year is off to a great start!