Why Ben Porat Yosef Should Be At The Top Of Your List
One of the most important factors we consider when deciding whether and where to relocate is our children’s schooling. We ask ourselves, does the area offer yeshivot that will benefit my children and instill in them my family values? It’s a monumental decision, and you undoubtedly want to do your due diligence while evaluating the prospects before you.
Here in Bergen County, New Jersey, we’re blessed with a number of excellent schools for students in early childhood and grades K-8. Ben Porat Yosef, a Modern Orthodox co-educational school located in Paramus, stands out amongst them. We are proud of what defines us: an innovative skills-based learning approach in which students are empowered with the tools to understand new ideas; a genuine warmth that permeates our halls and imbues our students with confidence, empathy, and leadership skills; a commitment to celebrating both Sephardic and Ashkenazic minhagim for unique inclusivity; and Hebrew language immersion and celebration of Israeli culture.
Our academically rigorous dual curriculum incorporates elements of experiential education, interdisciplinary study, and skills-based learning so that our students can grow into confident and empowered learners ready for the challenges and triumphs of a complex 21st century world. We also take a holistic approach to learning and strive to incorporate elements of both Jewish and general
studies into lessons when possible, demonstrating to our students that our understanding of the general world is enhanced when viewed through a lens of Torah.
Kindergarten students learning about Parshat Lech Lecha inquire about how Avraham knew where he was going. They explore today’s travel using Waze and Google Maps, go on scavenger hunts throughout the school building that they map, and conduct research to find their own homes on Google Earth. They then reflect back on the Parsha and say, “Wow! What bitachon and emunah,
trust and faith, Avraham must have had in Hashem to travel to a new place blindly and without the modern tools that we have today.” We believe students learn best by doing and in the process gain a deeper and more meaningful understanding of what they are learning.
Fourth grade students learning Sefer Yehoshua delve into the story of Bnei Yisrael crossing the Yarden. The students dress up in period-style clothing, build a model of the Aron Habrit based on textual learnings, utilize the river on our property, and physically reenact Bnei Yisrael crossing the Yarden. It is truly an experience that they will never forget.
Our hands-on approach to learning is perhaps best seen in one of our most exciting days at BPY, Discovery Learning Day, in which elementary and middle school students spend the entire day studying a specific topic in science and engineering through different academic lenses, and team up in pairs or groups to test a hypothesis. In this exciting and collaborative day, science goes from an abstract idea to something living and breathing right before them. Previous topics have included solar energy, infectious diseases, organ transplants, bridge design, and catapult engineering.
Students also use digital and online educational resources to extend and enhance their traditional learning while fostering their digital citizenship skills.
We take pride in our excellent high school acceptance rates; this past year, an incredible 96 percent of the entire eighth grade were accepted to their first-choice high school. We continue to be gratified by the continuous positive feedback we receive from high school administrators who note our students’ ability to deftly handle the rigorous demands of high school, and our students’ stellar middot.
Our warm and nurturing environment is as evident in the halls of early childhood as it is in the upper level of the building where our Middle School students learn and grow. We believe that children, whether they are four or fourteen, excel when they feel safe and secure and valued for their authentic selves. We find that this warmth helps them build the confidence they need to explore their curiosity, take their learning beyond classroom walls, and acquire critical social skills with which to respectfully relate to diverse peers.
BPY’s student body represents a diverse makeup, and our commitment to celebrating both Sephardic and Ashkenazic traditions is reflected in our school’s programs. Our chazzan teaches both Sephardic and Ashkenazic selichot, tefillot, and te’amim, and our Middle School’s Chodesh
B’Chodesh program alternates between Sephardic and Ashkenazic tefillah and traditions each month. Many of our Israeli shlichim, who serve as teachers (rebbe’im and morot) at BPY, also infuse their lessons with their own cultural traditions.
By studying our rich heritage and cultures in tandem and empowering all our students to proudly explore their cultural backgrounds, our students develop their Ahavat Yisrael, a profound appreciation for Klal Yisrael and a sincere love for the entirety of the Jewish people and the Jewish experience. In this way, our students also gain an appreciation for the diversity of the human experience beyond Jewish communal lines. Difference is not feared or mocked but appreciated. We do not take this culture of mutual respect and understanding for granted, and it is something we actively work on and strive for on a regular basis from the age of two.
Our shlichim – selected from more than 10,000 experienced educators by the Jewish Agency for Israel and then by BPY with our own selective criteria – represent the best of Israel. In the classroom, they aim to speak exclusively to our students in Hebrew, empowering them with the skills and ability to learn to speak Hebrew fluently. For students who need help, our fully staffed Learning
Center offers regular support in Ivrit, as well as in a host of other subject areas. Our shlichim help infuse Limudei Kodesh with real-world observations of the sites and stories mentioned in Tanach.
They help make Yom Haatzmaut come alive for our students: they set up a shuk where students can “shop,” they recreate some of Israel’s most beloved landmarks like the Kotel and the Kinneret, and they lead our students in an exciting Daglanut ceremony.
If you’re thinking about relocating to the Bergen County community, we invite you to set up a tour at Ben Porat Yosef, meet some of our administration and faculty, and see for yourself what distinguishes BPY as a place of warmth, diversity, middot, Torah, and academic excellence.
Visit our website www.benporatyosef.org and follow us on social media @BenPoratYosef on Facebook, @BPYParamus on Instagram.