Shalhevet Could’ve Had Dr. Gil Perl

Here’s a copy of attorney Marc Rohatiner’s resignation letter from the Shalhevet school board. He protested the way school founder and longtime CEO Jerry Friedman made sure that Gil Perl didn’t get a serious interview at the school.

Gil Perl is a superstar in Orthodox Jewish education.

Rabbi Avi Greene was hired instead to run religious education at Shalhevet. He was only 27 at the time. He lasted the term of his contract — three years. Now he has plans for Jewish education that seem ideally suited for difficult economic times.

His time has come.

Shalhevet could’ve had Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz as head of school. They chose Rabbi Elchanan Weinbach instead. He’s there every day. Rabbi Steinsaltz would’ve appointed a representative and flown in to give lectures every couple of months.

Shalhevet is the only Orthodox day school I am aware of where boys and girls hug each routinely in the hallways. Every other school, including the liberal Ramaz in Manhattan (with atrocious Jewish education and superb secular education) and Ida Crown Jewish Academy in Chicago (with weak Jewish education, but the strongest that the parents will put up with), discourages this. It’s not the Orthodox way.

The best critique of the type of Lawrence Kohlberg-inspired moral thinking taught at Shalhevet was in the satirical newspaper The Burning Joint, which came out more than two years ago. It had a cogent well-argued three pages on the topic. More than 90% of the contents of this paper was dead-on accurate, according to my sources.

That there has been no follow-up issue is a serious loss to Jewish journalism.

“There are certain things that an Orthodox school can not have a discussion about,” says an Orthodox dissenter with Shalhevet. “You can’t have a discussion about whether to keep Shabbos or not. You keep Shabbos or don’t keep Shabbos, but you don’t have a townhall discussion over it at an Orthodox school. What kind of Orthodox school allows secular teachers the same vote as rabbis? How are they allowed to speak with as much authority?

“Shalhevet had a townhall meeting on Proposition Eight (against same-sex marriage), with secular teachers speaking with as much authority as religious teachers. In the Talmudic tractate Chullin 92A-B, it says there were three good things about the Romans, and one of them was that they did not marry two men. The Jewish tradition is clear about same-sex marriage though whether religious views on the sanctity of marriage should be enforced through secular law is an open question, you can make a case against that.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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