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TABC Expansion to Honor Rabbi Yosef Adler

By: Michal Rosenberg
The Jewish Link
Planned new entrance to TABC.

Torah Academy of Bergen County is growing, giving back and planning for the future. The school leadership is undertaking a major expansion plan to “transform the religious, academic and social-emotional foundations” of the student experience at TABC. The steady growth the school is experiencing demands expanded and enhanced facilities for students to pursue their areas of interest at the highest levels.

Construction plans include pushing out a little to square off the current footprint, building a new second floor on top, and reconfiguring the main floor. SINAI Schools, which currently operates out of TABC, will move upstairs to a new, larger space and the remainder of the second floor will make up a number of classrooms for TABC students. The vacated areas on the main floor will be thoughtfully redesigned to create upgraded, modern spaces that will improve the flow of the building and enable students to pursue their passions. The plans include:

A new, larger beit midrash to better accommodate programs like night seder and student/parent functions.

A new science wing to include two state-of-the-art labs, along with classroom space, to equip students with better tools to work on special projects.

An arts and electives wing which will house an expanded music studio, broadcasting center and art studio for students to pursue their passion projects in an organized, collaborative way.

Rendering of new beit midrash, with view of main entrance.

An expanded student center for all grades to gather, eat, learn, study and connect with each other, rebbeim and teachers.

Six new classrooms for TABC’s growing number of students.

In addition to the push to add creative space and a more cohesive flow to the school building, the TABC community will extend tremendous hakarat hatov to its Rosh Yeshiva Emeritus Rabbi Yosef Adler, by naming the new construction the Rabbi Yosef Adler Building. By all accounts, it was Rabbi Adler’s educational acumen and visionary leadership that has not only brought TABC to where it is today, but elevated the level of Torah learning in the Teaneck community as a whole. TABC Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Joshua Kahn shared: “Our goal is really to build on Rabbi Adler’s legacy. Rabbi Adler’s name and TABC should always be synonymous. He raised the level of Torah learning in our community—on the high school level and on a communal level.”

Rabbi Yosef Adler

Dov Adler, Rabbi Adler’s oldest son, is working with the school to bring this idea to fruition. “It’s incredible to see this institution my father created continuing his legacy. TABC is grounded in his principles and philosophy; they’re woven throughout the fabric of the school. This dedication is an appreciation for what my father has accomplished. All the people who come through the building will see his name and know what he meant to the community, what the past has contributed to their future.”

TABC Head of School Rabbi Shlomo Stochel summed up the vision for this project: “Our expansion project will propel TABC into the position as a leader in yeshiva high school education, a true tribute to the legacy of Rabbi Adler, whose vision established our yeshiva as an innovative institution of Torah learning and general studies. With the focus on providing dedicated space for academic and elective offerings and on enhancing student experience in a modern facility, Rabbi Adler’s dreams for TABC as a communal Torah center and as an incubator for future Jewish leadership will be realized. The expanded beit midrash, updated science labs, and dedicated music, media and art studios will all serve to fulfill these twin goals of learning and leadership in an integrated, educational experience for both current and future students at TABC.”

The expansion campaign is centered on growth in three main areas: Torah, academics and student life. This focus stems from Rabbi Adler, for whom “that primacy of Talmud Torah was critical,” said Rabbi Kahn. Torah U’Madda is the foundation for TABC—the philosophy Rabbi Adler adopted from his rebbe, the Rav—and the school has always stressed high achievement in both Judaic and secular classes. As Rabbi Kahn emphasized: “The goal with this project is excellent facilities to support excellent education.” The new construction maintains the placement of the beit midrash and student center as the building’s hub, reflecting the importance of both Torah learning and relationship-building—both student/student and rebbe/talmid—greatly valued by Rabbi Adler.

The reconfiguring of the main floor also focuses on new science labs and expanded elective offerings that have garnered much interest among students. Rabbi Kahn noted that “these are passionate areas of learning and they need the space for students to really cultivate those passions,” and explore cutting-edge electives like VMB—video, media and broadcasting—Makerspace, Studio Art and Music Studio. The school recognizes the strong student interest in these subjects and the need for larger, renovated and improved facilities. This construction prioritizes designated spaces students can work in more comfortably and access more easily, while planning them in a way that encourages interdisciplinary collaboration, so students can gain from their peers’ perspectives and expertise.

Its commitment to collaboration is evident in TABC’s partnership with SINAI Schools. “It was Rabbi Adler who first brought SINAI into the building, setting TABC up as a communal institution,” explained Rabbi Kahn, creating this symbiotic relationship in which both SINAI and TABC students gain an invaluable amount from one another. SINAI will manage the design of its new home, which will occupy 7,000 square feet of the new 11,000-square-foot second floor. TABC and SINAI students will maintain regular interaction, while benefiting from having thoughtful and meaningful spaces that meet their diverse needs.

Rabbi Yisrael Rothwachs, Leo Brandstatter z”l Dean of SINAI Schools, spoke of the schools’ partnership. “Over the past 34 years, we have helped several generations of boys with complex learning and development disabilities reach their academic, social and emotional potential at SINAI’s Karasick Shalem High School for boys at TABC. Equally important, thousands of TABC students have learned through their interactions with SINAI students that people who look different or learn differently than they do are also created b’tzelem elokim and worthy of their genuine friendship and respect.”

Students experimenting in the science lab.

“We are thrilled to be able to continue to grow together with TABC,” said Sam Fishman, managing director of SINAI Schools. “We are extremely grateful to the small group of donors who made it possible for SINAI to partner with TABC in the project that is planned. These donors are individuals and institutions who care both about SINAI and TABC—and care very deeply about SINAI remaining at TABC—which, God willing, will now be assured for the indefinite future.”

TABC leadership aims to complete this project without increasing its building fund and tuition or taking on new debt. In a letter to its parent body, TABC recently shared that the school is “extremely proud and grateful to announce that with SINAI’s partnership we have already raised $6M of the $8M needed for this project.” Campaign leaders are now looking to the school, and greater Teaneck, community for the remaining $2M needed to reach their goal.

Talmidim learning in the beit midrash.

Rabbi Kahn noted that many of the donors so far have been “alumni parents or community members, which shows the tremendous support for both Rabbi Adler and for TABC as an important community institution.” In addition to it being a home for TABC, the school building is utilized by so many for myriad purposes: TABC Jr. Hockey, JYEP, Shabbat minyanim, basketball training, alumni sports leagues and smachot. Especially as the years go on, it’s fitting for all these visitors, and of course for the TABC community, to see Rabbi Adler’s name as they enter the building and acknowledge his incredible legacy.

Dov Adler shared a sentiment expressed by multiple donors. “They said, ‘Our children have benefited from a TABC that previous generations have built. It’s our privilege to help continue to build TABC for the next generation of families.’ This shows what my father means to the Teaneck community at large—the limmud haTorah, teaching Torah and community leadership. As we move forward, people should always remember and learn from who he is and what he’s accomplished.”

To make a donation please contact TABC Director of Institutional Advancement Sharon Rifkind at sharon.rifkind@tabc.org.

To read this article as it appeared originally in The Jewish Link, click here.

Learn more about the plans for the future of TABC and SINAI at TABC in this article by Joanne Palmer published in The Jewish Standard.