A new era has arrived for Rambam Mesivta Maimonides High School.
Since its founding in 1991, the school has occupied a building on Frost Lane, in Lawrence, that was owned by its next-door neighbor, the Brandeis Hebrew Academy. Rambam paid rent to Brandeis, but continued to grow, and discussions about finding a permanent home expanded two years ago.
The all-boys yeshiva, offering Jewish studies and college preparatory classes, serves students from the Five Towns, Great Neck, Plainview, West Hempstead, Brooklyn, Queens and other communities.
Now it has a building of its own, on Mott Avenue in Lawrence.
“This has been a process,” said Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman, Rosh HaYeshiva, Rambam’s dean. “We’re about 99 percent complete. We are waiting for two religious items to come in.”
The process started in the 2020-21 school year, when Rambam was near the end of its lease with Brandeis, and was considering the next step. School officials ultimately decided to construct a new building. They broke ground in the summer of 2021, and after a final year in the Brandeis-owned building, the new school was completed last September. For the first two weeks of the 2022-23 school year, Rambam rented space in Congregation Beth Sholom, in Lawrence.
The construction cost $12 million, and was supported by fundraisers and donations from graduates and parents, Friedman said.
The new school, at 284 Mott Ave., is roughly a six-minute walk from the old location. The 38,000-square-foot building has much more space, and enables the school to offer more opportunities in limudei kodesh, education in religious subjects such as Torah, as well as college preparatory classes, while maintaining traditionally small classes.
“It’s never easy having a change,” Friedman said. “That meant transporting all the equipment, and that itself took a long time.”
This will be the first full school year on Mott Avenue.
“A lot of pieces came together to make it work,” Friedman added. “We’re very happy that we’re here.”
The building’s newest features include a beis medrash, a hall dedicated to Torah study; a lab for the study of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM; larger classrooms; a state-of-the-art gym; and a Holocaust center, to showcase the challenges and sacrifices made by survivors.
“Part of the idea of the school is standing up for Jewish pride and Jewish values,” said Rabbi Avi Herschman, an assistant dean. “Rabbi Friedman, who is the founder of the school, Rabbi (Yotav) Eliach, who is the school’s principal — (their) parents were both survivors of the Holocaust, as well as my grandparents.”
“It’s education and teaching the kids about the events that happened, about the history of what happened and standing up against antisemitism,” Herschman added.
The center serves as a library, and offers a glimpse into pre-World War II Jewish life, antisemitism and Torah commitment.
Herschman, a 2009 graduate of the high school, said that it’s a very special feeling for him to be a part of the school and its journey of relocation.
“Honestly, I get to kind of give back what I received,” he said. “It’s a very special feeling.”
Aaron Friedman, the director of operations and Zev Friedman’s son, said that students were looking forward to the school year, which began on Sept. 7.
“The excitement level is through the roof,” Aaron said. “The boys are ecstatic and supercharged up for learning, achieving new things academically, in terms of their Jewish studies and athletics. It’s a real big boost for everyone.”