Skip To Content
Fast Forward

A Jewish school for kids with learning disabilities is building big in Manhattan

(JTA) — (New York Jewish Week via JTA) — The Shefa School, a Jewish school for students with learning disabilities whose Hebrew name means “abundance,” is living up to its moniker. 

On a chilly Tuesday morning on the Upper West Side, Shefa staff and families celebrated the beginning of construction on a new campus at 17 West 60th Street that will expand the school from 25,000 square feet to 75,000 square feet.

The new campus — located just a block from Central Park and Columbus Circle — will be situated in a building that has not been occupied for more than 40 years. Renovation on the 12-story building will include building out classrooms, a beit midrash for study and prayer, a large gym, a cafeteria, gathering spaces for programming and celebrations and an outdoor rooftop. The project is set to be completed in the spring of 2024.

“It has been an amazing journey from a school of 24 students in a few classrooms to our own building, in a prime location, where we will be able not only to accommodate more students but also provide a robust facility, and serve as a hub for serving the larger Jewish community in better serving children with learning disabilities,” founder and head of school Ilana Ruskay-Kidd told The New York Jewish Week.  

According to the New York Post, the school purchased a 99-year ground lease for the entire building for $49.5 million. To help fund the move and the renovations, the school announced the Sowing the Seeds of Abundance: A Capital Campaign for the Shefa School in August, with an early goal to raise $20 million.

The project was first announced to families at the school last August.  

Founded in 2014, Shefa is a pluralistic Jewish day school serving students with language-based learning disabilities. The current campus  in Manhattan’s Nomad neighborhood, at 40 E. 29th St., is open to students in grades 1 through 8.

In 2018, JTA reported on Shefa’s approach to learning and how the school’s first graduating eighth grade class fared in the transition to traditional high school environments

From 24 students in the school’s first year the school has grown to more than 200. With the new campus, the school aims to expand capacity to 350 students, as well as formally establish a teaching lab for Jewish special educators and leaders, which will be known as The Shefa Center, according to Ruskay-Kidd.

“While we know that there is actually no ground to break here, this is a moment we are delineating as we have completed some significant milestones, thanks to the help of many who will be joining us at the groundbreaking,” Ruskay-Kidd said ahead of the ceremonies Tuesday meant to mark the start of the building project.

The post A Jewish school for kids with learning disabilities is building big on the Upper West Side appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.