A school, like a person, takes on the personality of the people, places, events and ideas, which comprise it. Kadima Day School is no exception. The laughing, curious faces of the children, the sense of home no matter where our home has been, the innovative programs we have dared to make real, and our constant goal of quality education all go into making a very special place with a very special history.
Our school’s history – so real and close to us and yet so much a part of the greater, always unfolding history of the Jewish people – began in September 1970 when seven young boys, one young girl and one teacher joined in a partnership of Jewish values and learning under the guidance and leadership of Rabbi Eli Schochet of Congregation Beth Kodesh (CBK) and the perseverance of Penina Schochet. That seed of learning took root and grew…and like the Tree of Life has brought sustenance and fruit to the West Valley Jewish community.
By the end of the first year, another teacher joined what was then called Kadima Hebrew Academy and the school’s enrollment continued to grow. Parents and their children were hungry for the sense of a little piece of Zion in the sprawling San Fernando Valley. With the growth of student enrollment came new teachers and educators: Men and women who brought with them the best examples of Jewish values, education and a burning desire to make the history of the world and our People come alive and take on relevance for our children. We expanded our curriculum and classrooms.
Kadima Hebrew Academy became an affiliate of the national Solomon Schechter Schools under the auspices of the Conservative movement. The Schechter Schools are named in honor of the great scholar Solomon Schechter (1847-1916). Dr. Schechter represents the balance of tradition and modernity exemplified by the Conservative movement. The Schechter Day School Network of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism charters the Solomon Schechter Day Schools, in North America. Though each school is independent and follows its state or regional independent school association standards, minimal national standards are set by the Association regarding Judaic studies.
In 1977, a hardworking and dedicated group of parents and community leaders expanded their vision, and Kadima Hebrew Academy took leave of its congregational affiliation and became a community-based school under the guidance of Rabbi Shy Porat, of blessed memory. It had been a bold step, but one that was in line with the phenomenal growth of the school. During Rabbi Porat’s brief tenure as Headmaster, he brought learning to life. Kadima Hebrew Academy students simulated the Exodus on a school trip to the desert. Rabbi Porat dressed as Moses and students baked matzo in the sun. He epitomized the concept of learning through hands-on experience.
The word “Kadima” means “forward” and the next two headmasters worked on stimulating growth and moving the school forward to new quarters-from Congregation Beth Kodesh (CBK) to Sherman Way, and from Sherman Way to Oso Avenue in Woodland Hills. Rabbi Philip D. Field became Headmaster in 1979. He encouraged and supported the school’s growth and Kadima Hebrew Academy moved from CBK to modules on Sherman Way in Canoga Park. In the early 1980′s, Peter Rosenbaum became the new headmaster. Under his administration, Kadima Hebrew Academy moved to a larger location, to Oso Avenue in Woodland Hills.
In 1984, Dr. George Lebovitz joined our Kadima Hebrew Academy staff as headmaster. During his leadership, our student body grew from 129 to 335 students. Dr. Lebovitz’s commitment to Judaism and the Solomon Schechter Program has created an environment of continued growth. The last ten years has seen the addition of our pre-kindergarten program, additional classrooms, extended day care, after school activities, Assistant Principals for Judaic Studies, Mrs. Malka Scheinok, and General Studies, Mrs. Susan Stelzer. In addition to Judaic and General Studies growth, added a Library, computer room, science program, art program and two music programs. Our campus also began providing nutritious, kosher daily hot lunches cooked in our own Kadima Hebrew Academy kitchen.
After nine and one-half years on Oso Avenue, Kadima Hebrew Academy again undertook a bold move and leased a larger public school campus located further west at Shoup Avenue. Kadima Hebrew Academy obtained a loan from the Jewish Community Foundation to renovate the new site, which had been vacant for nine years. Under the leadership of Dr. Lebovitz, parents, students and teachers packed, renovated, moved and dedicated Kadima Hebrew Academy’s current campus. In September 1995, Kadima Hebrew Academy inaugurated its Middle School with the addition of a seventh grade. In its first year, enrollment reached 49 in sixth and seventh grades. A full time science program with two teachers and a dedicated laboratory with state-of-the-art equipment and lab tables were instituted for students in grades three through seven. The computer lab was renovated and thirteen high-tech computers with CD ROMs, color printers and Internet access were purchased, courtesy of the P.T.A. Overall school enrollment soared to 360 students.
In September 1996, Kadima Hebrew Academy’s first class of eighth graders began their last year at Kadima Hebrew Academy, culminating in a trip to Washington D.C. in May. To accommodate the growing students of the Middle School (grades 6-8), new modules were purchased for classroom space and a multi-purpose room, to be used by all grades. A special dedication was held in April to thank the Jewish Community Foundation for their $10,000 grant for the modules. Mezuzot donated by Kadima Hebrew Academy students and families were placed on the new doorways. In October of 1996, the U.S. Postal Service issued its first ever Hanukkah stamp. Kadima Hebrew Academy was designated as the official “Hanukkah Stamp Station” by the Postal Service commemorating our students’ letters that promoted the issuance of the stamp. Special collector’s envelopes were designed and sold with the U.S. canceled stamp (ref. pages 14A).
In the spring of 1998, a special celebration was held as Kadima Hebrew Academy presented the Jewish Community Foundation with the last check to pay off its five-year loan, which renovated the Shoup campus. In the spring of 1999, Dr. Lebovitz retired after 15 years of service. After a year long national search for a new leader, Dr. Barbara Gereboff from Phoenix, Arizona was chosen to lead Kadima Hebrew Academy into the new millennium as our new Head of School. Dr. Gereboff is a superb educator, scholar and Jewish role model whose approach to children, education and Judaism is based on collaboration and community building. Dr. Gereboff’s commitment to the Schechter movement and day school education has energized faculty, staff, students and parents, bringing new educational practices and programs onto our campus and encouraging new lay leadership. Under Dr. Gereboff’s direction, the middle school program has been modified to better serve the developmental needs of this age group. During this period, the school achieved WASC and BJE accreditation. Dr. Gereboff and her staff expanded the arts program, teacher development opportunities, after school programming, and fundraising.
In the fall of 2004, we once again moved; however, this time it was to our own new campus. Through the generosity of Shawn and Dorit Evenhaim, we now operate at our beautiful Evenhaim Family Campus at 7011 Shoup Avenue, West Hills CA 91307.
In the summer of 2009, Kadima welcomed William B. Cohen, as Head of School. Mr. Cohen was chosen for his demonstrated leadership success, sophisticated educational philosophy, positive energy, deep managerial acumen, strong character, and compelling vision to provide Kadima with the leadership it needs to continue to establish itself as a locus for educational and academic excellence in the West San Fernando Valley. Under the leadership of Mr. Cohen, Kadima was able to expand accreditation by the prestigious California Association of Independent Schools, CAIS; grow the Early Childhood Education Center; create a focus on expanded academics and experiential education; and lead the school in a modern direction with the change of the school name to Kadima Day School with a recommitment to the values of day school education established by the Schechter Network.
Gregory Kovacs has joined Kadima as our Head of School as of July, 2015. With over 15 years of leadership experience in both for profit and non profit industries, Greg has developed an expertise in operations management, business development, fund development, strategic planning, program design and management, leadership development, and education. Greg has held positions as the founding Executive Director for the Paintrock Canyon Program, as the Vice President of Operations for the Camp Coca-Cola Foundation, and as the Executive Director of the C5 Youth Foundation. A native of Southern California, Greg holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science and Economics from the University of California, Irvine, as well as a MBA from the University of Southern California. In addition, Greg has been recognized by the American Society of Public Administrators, (ASPA) with the Outstanding Organization Award in 2013 and the Eleanor Eels award for program excellence in 2007-08 by the American Camp Association. Greg has also served on the UCLA Nonprofit Management Certificate Program Curriculum Advisory Board (2012-2014), the CABT – College Access Brain Trust Committee Member (2011-2013), and the American Camp Association (ACA) Board of Directors (2008-2011).
This is not the end of our story. Our school is young. Our dreams are still bold and we continue to grow. We are only as wise as the wisdom of our People. We are only as bold as that which we dare to dream. We are only as strong as the work and love that we put into our dreams. Active members or passive bystanders, we are all a part of this dream, this vision, and this history: the history of, the history of our people. Our mission statement conveys this vision, keeping us aware of our paramount goal: To provide a nurturing atmosphere that connects children, families and community thereby producing young people who are compassionate, moral and responsible individuals. Please refer to our mission statement. The means by which the mission of the school is achieved is a reflection of the school’s educational philosophy. Please refer to the School Philosophy.
“Through wisdom is a house built; through understanding it is established.”
Key Dates in the History of Kadima Hebrew Academy
1970 — School founded by Rabbi Eli Schochet at CBK.
1977 — Became an independent school (not affiliated with one synagogue)
1978 — Moved to Sherman Way campus.
1980′s — Moved to Oso Avenue campus.
1984 — Dr. George Lebovitz and commitment to Solomon Schechter Program.
1993 — Moved to Shoup Avenue campus.
1995 — Middle School inaugurated with 49 students.
1996 — Kadima students inspire the first U.S. postal Hanukkah Stamp.
1999 — Dr. Barbara Gereboff succeeded Dr. Lebovitz.
2001 — Kadima accredited by new joint WASC/BJE entitiy.
2004 — Kadima moves to the Evenhaim Family Campus at 7011 Shoup Avenue.
2009 — Bill Cohen succeeded Dr. Barbara Gereboff
2009 — New School Name – Kadima Day School and Mission Statement Adopted
2011 — Kadima celebrates is 40th anniversary
2015 — Gregory Kovacs, Head of School succeeds Bill Cohen