Shalhevet At The Crossroads

Shalhevet is the Jewish school of the future and always will be.

Billionaire Ameriquest founder Roland Arnall has been Shalhevet’s major funder for the past five years (to the tune of about $6 million).

He first stepped in when Shalhevet had a major federal tax shortfall. He then did a series of matching donations.

Or at least that’s how they were spun.

I believe that the term "loans" might be more accurate.

Roland wants to wean Shalhevet off his money.

Don’t we all?

Founder and school head Jerry Friedman claims he’s given the school millions of dollars. The board searched for the notes to verify the gifts and couldn’t find them. So, what the hell, they resolved the issue by saying Friedman had given $1.1 million to the school and a document was created to that effect.

I believe that this money is also technically a loan.

Friedman’s money has priority below that of the bank and below Roland’s if the school tanks.

The understanding is that neither Jerry nor Roland will call in their notes unless Shalhevet goes under.

Jerry has often said he wants his $1.1 million back.

Shalhevet’s property has been appraised for nearly $20 million.

Friedman hasn’t given any serious money in years.

This Spring he quit the school and then came storming back, determined to undo changes. Nobody wanted to fight him in court over it because that would’ve destroyed the school.

Jerry says this is his last year.

Shalhevet’s deficit for this year is running at $2 million.

Esther Feder is the president of the school board. Her family has a lot of money.

Shalhevet just got spruced up for the new year. The money to do that probably came from the Feders.

Shalhevet’s new K-8th school is flourishing. A lot of families came over from Harkham Hillel as part of the white flight from the dusky Persians and Israelis.

Shalhevet’s high school needs a minimum of 80 students per class. This year’s senior class has about 30 members. The reduced numbers can be largely attributed to the marijuana brownies scandal of four years ago.

As I wrote in 2003: "A girl on a recent Shalhevet trip ate marijuana-laced chocolate brownies. She panicked and was hospitalized. She was fine. Afterwards, she refused to reveal who baked the brownies. Shalhevet, the most left-wing of Orthodox day schools in Los Angeles with an identical co-ed curriculum, has a zero tolerance drug policy, meaning anyone caught with drugs is expelled."

I believe that the solution to Shalhevet’s enrollment problems is embracing its inner slut. If I was a hormone-driven Jewish boy and I heard that Shalhevet girls were sluts, I’d lobby my parents to go there.

More fornication and less Kohlbergian moral development should fatten those coffers and help the Jewish people reproduce.

Many Shalhevet students in 11th and 12th grade are leaving the school to study at Santa Monica Junior College, which does embrace its inner slut.

Tuition at Shalhevet runs $23,000 a year. YULA is about $20,000 a year.

Jerry Friedman holds up Harvard-Westlake as the model. For K-8th grade, he looks to Maimonidies and Hillel and matches their tuitions.

Morale among Shalhevet’s teachers has been low the past couple of years. They want to get rid of Jerry Friedman and principal Sam Gomberg. A number of the school’s best teachers quit (Dr. Yoss, Steve Lux, Petrella).

Jerry tends to wander in at 10:30 a.m. He enjoys a leisurely lunch and then is gone by 3 p.m.

Even when Sam’s there, he’s not really there. He just closes his door and goes to his private place.

Sometimes he’ll come out and talk about the Kohlberg information he’s found online.

When Sam and Jerry did get involved, the teachers felt bruised and battered.

There was a lot of talk about moral development but not much demonstration of moral leadership.

The school lacks a rudder.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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