Raising Heroes

“Tarbut v’Torah can be the place where Jewish education does its thinking because of the entrepreneurial spirit and positive partnerships of its families and faculty,” said Rabbi Seth Linfield, who assumed the role of head of school at TVT, the fifth largest Jewish day school in the U.S., on July 1.  “It’s a beacon for Jewish education in particular in terms of values and character.”

Those values involve empowering young men and women to give meaning to and participate in Jewish communities, according to Rabbi Linfield.  He described the endeavor as “raising heroes,” which can mean being a hero in a family, arts and sciences, relationships, and “when you look in the mirror – the relationship with God and yourself, living up to your calling, partnering in the creative process to make the world better.”

Rabbi Linfield, who served as head of school at Lehrman Community Day School in Miami Beach for four years before joining TVT in Irvine, said, “It’s our job to break down the goal of raising heroes and making it practical.  The role of the head of school is to tell the community what a graduate looks like – how to do this day to day to create sets of experience.”

He added, “We want to raise serious young men and women who want to create meaning through Jewish eyes.” He believes in “active listening, defining and articulating what the ideal graduate looks like, and getting the word out about the extraordinary education at TVT.”

Rabbi Linfield knows a great deal about living up to one’s calling and creating meaning through Jewish eyes, because his background and accomplishments depict the life of a modern Renaissance man.  He graduated Phi Beta kappa from New York University with a degree in mathematics at the age of 19.  Then he went on to graduate from Stanford Law School and to attain partnership at a major Midwest law firm, Barnes & Thorburg LLP.  While an attorney, he also served as an adjunct assistant professor of management at the University of Notre Dame, Mondoza Graduate School of Business.  While still practicing law, Rabbi Linfield completed the Day School Leadership Training Institute at the Jewish Theological Seminary.  He also concurrently began rabbinic training that led to his ordination from HaRav HaGaon Shlomo Koenig of the Yoka Kollel, New York.

According to Rabbi Linfield, “However you define participation in Jewish life, the most meaningful parameter is day school education.”  He said that there are 15,000 eligible young men and women in kindergarten through grade 12 in Orange County, and less than 1,000 attend day schools.  He wants to expand the geographic reach of the school to families from outside of the immediate area.  His other goals include building stronger relationships with all of Orange County’s Jewish organizations and serving as a spiritual leader and Jewish role model for TVT students.

Rabbi Linfield also wants to combine the best aspects of modernity with tradition.  He hopes to use technology including smart boards and live streaming, as resources for the entire Jewish community to build real relationships and make the TVT facility accessible to a wide range of people.

Within TVT Rabbi Linfield wants to “emphasize that what takes place in each classroom affects each other classroom in the school.”  He added that TVT is “one school from kindergarten through grade 12 with substantive and symbolic behavior.”

According to Rabbi Linfield, “the vision of the TVT founders carries through, even though younger and newer people are involved.  That spirit is growing stronger and permeates the whole air here.”

He added that the class of 2010 was the first graduating class that started TVT in kindergarten, with about one-fourth of the class being at the school for the whole time.  “They’ve formed deep binds with Mr. (Irving) Gelman (the founder of Tarbut V’Torah) and the teachers,” he said.  “The adult relationships with parents and teachers have had a significant impact on student learning.”

Grateful for the opportunity to be at TVT, Rabbi Linfield said that he has “long admired the standards of excellence that TVT regularly attains.  I am honored to join this outstanding faculty, first-rate staff, and warm community.”  He is delighted to continue working with Derek Gavshon, who served as acting head of school and who will continue in an executive capacity at TVT.

Rabbi Linfield added that TVT has a dedicated group of funders, board members, and professionals who want to make the quality of education at TVT accessible to as many people as possible.  As he said, “Don’t deny your children this opportunity.  Let us work with you and find out how to make this possible.”

Affiliation of TVT students is a across the board in terms of Jewish practice, according to Rabbi Linfield.  “Our goal is not to produce rabbis; 98 percent of the graduates will be doing other things.  Students across the denominational spectrum should be challenged – and they should be motivated to take their parents by the hand and encourage them to participate in Jewish activities.”

Sidebar

In April Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School (TVT) hosted the 8th Annual Academic Research Conference. Expert judges handed out cash prizes for 1st through 3rd place winners in one of the only research symposiums open to middle and high school students nationwide.  This year was the biggest conference to date. Two dozen judges evaluated nearly thirty projects in a three-hour research blitz. Student research topics included applied and theoretical research in mathematics, physics, biology, genetics, medicine, and environmental science, as well as media, music and the liberal arts., as well as music and the liberal arts. Student presenters ranged from the 6th to 10th grades.

“Young researchers have spent an average of eight months conducting in-depth research, working closely with mentors from local universities and businesses,” said Academic Research Conference Chair and founder, Mrs. Alla Korinevskaya, who also teaches upper level mathematics at Tarbut V’Torah.

TVT’s mission is “to provide superior educational opportunities in a pluralistic Jewish environment.” Situated on 20 acres, TVT offers a comprehensive K-12 education, with 14 varsity athletic teams, more than 20 student organizations, and 17 advanced placement courses, with a total enrollment of more than 600 students.  Accredited by both the California Association of Independent Schools and the National Association of Independent Schools, TVT is a National Blue Ribbon School. Visit www.tarbut.com for more information and events.

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