There’s a sixth school on the campus of JTS, and it’s the only one that doesn’t issue any undergraduate or graduate degrees. The Rebecca and Israel Ivry Prozdor High School is a community Hebrew high school that provides excellent college preparation and Jewish education to motivated students from any Jewish background, with any level of existing Jewish knowledge.
Since its founding in 1951, the Ivry Prozdor has operated under the auspices of JTS. Now a program of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education, the Ivry Prozdor offers a singular Judaic Studies experience to students in grades seven to twelve. Classes are taught by JTS rabbinical, cantorial, and education students, as well as by JTS and visiting faculty. Ivry Prozdor students encounter an academically rigorous program and a lively community of Jewish teens from all over the greater New York area. It’s all anchored by a philosophy of taking them seriously in every one of their classes, whether that’s Talmud study in the Beit Midrash or an examination of Jewish identity through the lenses of Israeli and American films.
“We get kids who are committed, who want to be challenged by their Judaic studies,” says Principal Bess Adler, who began her career at Ivry Prozdor while earning her MA in Jewish Education from The Davidson School. “What students find here is just as deep, challenging, and rich as anything in their secular educations. Our students come to debate and have their own voices.
“They don’t just learn together, they have fun together,” Bess says. Students participate in special weekend retreats and trips, group social-action projects, and holiday programs. The community and academics at Ivry Prozdor have produced generations of alumni who have gone on to make their marks in every sphere of Jewish and secular life, from award-winning authors to business and professional leaders to rabbis and cantors.
“They grow up to be the leaders of the Jewish community,” says Bess. “The kids at Ivry Prozdor are the Jewish future.”
Ivry Prozdor offers a rigorous, elective-based program to students from diverse levels of observance, educational backgrounds, and learning styles. The program requires only a commitment to Jewish learning, the ability to engage with the text, and a willingness to contribute to classroom discussions.
For current students, the available study concentrations are Israel and Jewish History and Culture, Beit Midrash, or Intensive Hebrew. In fall 2008, the Ivry Prozdor will offer even more choices and electives, including a new arts concentration.