BY ARLENE APPELROUTH / AJT //
Miriam Feldman is an educator with a vision who has created a school with a mission. The founding principal of Temima High School wants to educate Jewish women at every level, offering support from the cradle to the grave.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the Orthodox girls high school in Toco Hills, takes place, Sun., Nov. 3 at 4 p.m.
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Feldman’s dream of having a school which includes a women’s center within the walls of the new 18,000-square-foot building will be one step closer to reality. The 18- year -old school currently holds classes in portable trailers on the campus of Torah Day School of Atlanta.
“It is the only private school in Atlanta that doesn’t have its own building,” said Jean Katz, who, with her husband Richard, has been involved with the school for years. “The girls have gone to school in awful conditions, but that hasn’t stopped them from becoming successful,” she said.
The Katzes became interested in Temima when Atlanta Sholars Kollel Rabbi Menachem Deutsch invited Dick to a Temima graduation ceremony.
“My first thought was ‘you have to be kidding me,’” reminisced Katz, whose children were well past high school age when the invitation came. “But my wife was out of town and I went. That graduation knocked my socks off.”
The successful Atlanta businessman was impressed, wanted to leave a legacy and he accomplished that with a pledge large enough to have the school named after him and his wife. But it was considered unusual that the Katzes, major donors, were not active in Atlanta’s Orthodox community.
Temima, the Richard and Jean Katz High School for girls, has a reputation for excellence. Although the majority of its 53 students are from Atlanta, girls from other Orthodox communities also enroll and board with Atlanta families.
Rabbi Deutsch, who is credited with recognizing and acting on the need for a girls only school, formed a committee to begin the process. He speaks in superlatives about Temima, which he claims is, “the best orthodox high school for girls in the country.”
In addition, a unique self improvement program, called SIP, is what differentiates Temima from other schools that serve orthodox girls. Developed by Feldman, the SIP program prepares students emotionally and philosophically for life.
There is a common misconception that Orthodox schools only prepare their graduates for marriage. The majority of Temima graduates not only earn bachelor’s degrees from secular universities, but more than 70 percent have also received graduate degrees.
Julie Silverman, Temima’s director of development, pointed out that despite the physical limitations of Temima, which has been meeting in portable trailers, the school has produced an “incredible cadre of alumnae.”
One Temima graduate is currently in medical school. Another is a lawyer. Careers as speech therapists, occupational therapists and other professional categories are the norm, Silverman said, adding that 97 percent of Temima graduates earn bachelor’s degrees and between 70 and 80 percent earn graduate degrees.
One thing that differentiates Temima grads from students attending other college-prep private schools is that Temima graduates attend seminaries in Israel for one or two years prior to completing their secular education.
“Our school encourages girls to be the best they can be. They pursue that dream, coupled with living a vibrant Orthodox Jewish life,” Silverman explained.
The dual curriculum is rigorous. A typical school day lasts for nine-and-a-half hours. In addition, there are many team building programs designed to teach time management skills and how to live and work within a community.
Principal Miriam Feldman is an icon in the Orthodox Jewish world. She was born into a family with “yichus,” which refers to one’s lineage. Her father, Rabbi Yacov Weinberg, was the head of the Ner Israel Rabbinical College, or yeshiva in Baltimore. Her grandfather was the founder of that yeshiva.
Sunday’s groundbreaking ceremony is open to the greater Atlanta community. It will take place at 1839 LaVista Road. A reception will follow in the social hall of Beth Jacob.