Yaffa and Rabbi
the Meer Family
Akiva on West 12
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
Midway through its 48th school year,
Akiva has 310 students, including 66 pre-
schoolers and 55 high school students.
Enrollment is up the last two school years
in part because Modern Orthodox parents
relocating to Metro Detroit have sought a
compatible Zionist day school.
"Yeshivat Akiva truly embodies the prin-
ciple that you can be a committed Orthodox
Jew and fully engaged with the world:'
Kiugerman said. "Our graduates go to their
Israel programs and colleges of choice with
I Lana Goldmeier, who has walked the
Akiva hallways from preschool to 12th
grade, says finding a balance between
secular knowledge and spiritual wisdom
is never an issue.
"When reading Inherit the Wind," she
said, "students will engage in a discussion
with a rabbi about how evolution and
religion do not have to be irreconcilably
different. Or a speaker will come to school
to increase our awareness of anti-Israel
propaganda and how to respond once we
leave the hallowed halls of high school."
She added, "On a more personal note,
the teachers at Akiva open their homes to
groups of students for Shabbat, Chanukah
celebrations and Purim seudahs [meals].
8 March 15 • 2012
the solid learning foundation that Akiva
Kiugerman held pulpits in Brooklyn,
N.Y., and Norwich, Conn., and served as
Hillel rabbi at the University of Maryland
in College Park. He received rabbinic
ordination at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan
Theological Seminary at Yeshiva University
in New York, where he earned a B.A. in
Jewish studies. He earned a M.A. in educa-
tion from George Washington University
in Washington. He's seeking a doctorate in
Jewish education through Gratz College in
Elkins Park, Pa.
Akiva Pr6ident Seth Korelitz said it's rare
to find combined in one educator a mastery
of both general and Jewish studies — "a
true Torah scholar who also is fluent in
educational theory, educational best prac-
tices and child development."
Klugerman sees the big picture, but also
is hands-on "as exemplified by his ability
Recently, when one of our teachers was
injured in a car accident, our school put
up a united effort to provide babysitting,
meals and daily visits.
"We are truly a family"
Next school year, Goldmeier will study
at Midreshet Harova in Jerusalem.
Akiva's extended family from Israel, she
said, reinforces student love for the Jewish
state. "Every few years:' she said, "new
families come to Akiva, giving a genuine
Israeli spirit to our American classrooms.
Not only is the Hebrew language inte-
grated in an authentic conversational way,
but also Israeli culture becomes a reality
as we get a taste of Israeli life:'
Each year, Akiva also welcomes
19-year-old Israeli women and men to
add the spirit of Israel. "Through tutor-
ing students one on one, organizing fun
events or just providing friendship:'
she said, "these Israeli emissaries make
Israel more than a dot on the map. This
connection continues when many of our
students spend a gap year in Israel or
choose to make aliyah. Those teachers
become our family"
Akiva teaches that knowledge means
action, Goldmeier stressed. "As a student
body:' she said, "we tutor students on a
monthly basis, visit Yad Ezra [the Berkley-
based kosher food bank] and prepare
activities for visits to a JARC home [the
Farmington Hills-based agency serving
people with developmental challenges]."
"Akiva," Goldmeier concluded, "rein-
forces my strength in Judaism, emphasiz-
es strength of giving and perpetuates the
strength of a connection with Israel."
Other Akiva student thoughts:
• Naomi Craft, 1 lth-grader — "I plan
on going to Technion-Israel Institute for
Technology in Haifa after graduating
from Akiva. The choice was an easy one.
Some schools have language immersion;
Akiva provides 'way of life' immersion.
My choice is, therefore, a natural one.
Zionisim permeates the air of Akiva; it is
hard not to absorb the feeling. My Jewish
identity and my love of Israel acquired
through my Akiva education have just
become a part of who I am."
to mentor the teachers and administrators
under his supervision:' Korelitz said. "When
we realized we had a chance to bring Rabbi
Kiugerman here, he immediately rose to the
top of our list."
The financial challenge at Akiva is daunt-
ing, as it is at any Jewish day school. More
than 50 percent of students receive some
form of scholarship; in the last five years,
total assistance has grown more than
Captain's Watch on page 10
• Chaviva Bluth, 11th-grader — "Rabbi
Klugerman has made a lot of changes
in the school curriculum, intensifying
both our learning and appreciation for
Judaism. The inter-relationship of the
subject matters I have learned this year
not only has made my faith stronger by
giving me an understanding of our past,
but also has shown me how our knowl-
edge of our past can explain our present
and help us learn how to build our Jewish
• Elizabeth Kirshner, 12th-grader —
"Akiva has presented me with outstanding
role models. My rabbis and teachers each
use their unique approaches to learn-
ing and distinct worldviews to shape my
perspective, inspiring in me a new sense
of curiosity and passion toward Torah
and Israel. Everyone at Akiva is extremely
dedicated to not only the academic suc-
cess, but also the continued enthusiasm
of its students in embracing our Jewish
identities. I will spend next year in Israel
and then will attend Barnard College [in
New York City]."