This is the new logo and name of the association of Conservative day schools to which Sinai Akiba belongs. In fact, Akiba was the first Schechter school—and very likely the first non-Orthodox day school—on the west coast.
Having served as president of the Schechter Network from 2008-2010, I have participated with colleagues and lay leaders from around the country in re-thinking the role of the association in an age when, blessedly, the notion of Jewish day school is no longer experimental and when a healthy competition for excellence exists among Jewish day schools of varied philosophies.
The increased emphasis on the name Schechter in the new logo, was symbolic. Solomon Schechter was not only the founder of the Jewish Theological Seminary and Conservative Movement as we know them today (both pre-existed him, but he gave them their shape and direction), he also embodied the ideal person envisioned by the movement: one who moves easily in the world of general culture while being traditionally observant, and has practical skills together with Jewish knowledge. (An engaging book, Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza, describes Schechter’s fascinating achievement in uncovering a trove of lost manuscripts that opened previously unknown worlds of Jewish life.)
Approximately 50 schools nationwide are affiliated with the Schechter Network. The Network produces the MaToK Bible curriculum, a wonderful, contemporary yet traditional approach to the teaching of Bible. It is developing a text-based environmental curriculum, provides a fellowship for an aspiring day school rabbi or administrator and provides conferences, webinars and other forums where our schools can learn from each other and from experts.
The first Schechter school came into existence in 1951. With 60 years of history, Schechter day school education is no longer an experiment. Our graduates—SAA’s and those of the other Schechter schools—are inhabiting leadership positions in the Jewish community even as they thrive in business and the professions—engaging the world, as the Network’s new tagline proclaims.
Rabbi Larry Scheindlin