Rabbi Abraham Lieberman, outgoing head of YULA Girls High School, joining Shalhevet faculty next fall

Surprise announcement bridges inter-school rivalry; Rabbi Segal says Rabbi Lieberman will add ‘experience and gravitas’ to Judaic department.


Photo: yulagirls.org

EXPERIENCE: Rabbi Abraham Lieberman has led YULA Girls High School since 2008.

Rabbi Abraham Lieberman, who has been the head of YULA Girls High School since 2008, is set to join the Judaic faculty as a full-time as a teacher next fall, Rabbi Segal announced in an email to the Shalhevet community yesterday.

In a development that surprised and pleased members of both communities, Rabbi Segal said the “world-class scholar” and “educator’s educator” would add another dimension to the Judaic faculty.

Anyone who has lived in Los Angeles over the last 10 years, or who has kept up with Jewish education globally, knows Rabbi Lieberman’s name and reputation to be synonymous with engaging and inspiring teaching,” Rabbi Segal wrote in the email.

“Rabbi Lieberman brings invaluable experience and gravitas to buttress an already electrifying Judaic faculty,” Rabbi Segal wrote. “At least as important, Rabbi Lieberman embodies the consummate example of menschlichkeit and yashrus, and serves as a powerful role model for our young students and faculty alike.”

The news came as a surprise to students, both at Shalhevet and YULA, though Rabbi Lieberman announced last fall that this would be his last year.  YULA parents and students interviewed by the Boiling Point at the time commended him for his leadership qualities and personal connections with students.

While both YULA and Shalhevet are Orthodox high schools in Los Angeles, they are also competitors in sports and other extracurriculars.  More to the point, the schools have been seen in the community to have rival visions of Modern Orthodoxy.

For example, boys and girls at YULA learn on separate campuses and study different curricula, and only recently began teaching Talmud on the girls’ campus.

Rabbi Segal did not see that as a problem.

“There has always been a deep mutual respect between us, and when Rabbi Lieberman started contemplating next steps, this was a natural fit,” he wrote in an email interview with the Boiling Point.

Differences in religious outlook, Rabbi Segal said, would be a strength.  Rabbi Lieberman’s appointment was announced in the same email as the appointment of Rabba Ramie Smith, who serves as assistant rabba at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in New  York. 

Our hashkafa is not monolithic,” Rabbi Segal wrote. “One of the strongest aspects of our team of limudei kodesh educators is the rich diversity of opinion that exists, not just in style and methodology, but hashkafa and worldview. 

“I think we have to challenge our students to wade through the complexity of Jewish thought, to see and touch and feel a multiplicity of perspectives,” he wrote.

Incoming senior Maya Schechter, who attended YULA for ninth grade, was happy to hear the news about Rabbi Lieberman.

“I’m really excited,” said Maya. “He was really awesome at YULA and so I’m glad that he’s coming here

Current YULA students had similar reactions.

“I was very shocked and surprised to hear,” said junior Lexi Shafa. “And it’s even a little hard to accept because Rabbi Lieberman was such a big part of our YULA family but I wish him nothing but success in his future endeavors.”

Principal Dr. Noam Weissman said Rabbi Lieberman would teach Talmud and Tanach classes, though he did not know exactly which ones.