The Mekor Haim Elementary and Junior High School was founded in 1990 to instill Rabbi Steinsaltz's deep love of Torah and learning in the young leaders of tomorrow. The school is housed in the Baka neighborhood of Jerusalem. Almost all of the Mekor Haim students, who now number nearly 350, are Jerusalem natives. Although the school was originally for boys only, it has recently expanded to include a first grade class for girls, and the hope is to add higher grades in the coming years.
Mission and Goals:
Mekor Haim seeks to give each child the chance to learn. From a young age, the students are exposed to the unique educational approach of Rabbi Steinsaltz. The administration and faculty dedicate themselves to producing knowledgeable and open-minded students who are prepared for the challenges of high school, as well as for the rest of their lives. Through a rigorous academic program and a wide variety of supplemental and extra-curricular activities, Mekor Haim creates a truly well rounded Jewish educational environment.
In and Out of the Classroom:
While the program of study at Mekor Haim is structured around the standardized Ministry of Education curriculum, the Mekor Haim experience is far from standard. There is a great focus in the school on leadership development. The students are very involved in the interactive programming surrounding the Jewish holidays. Each of the older classes adopts a younger class and learns the weekly Parsha (Torah portion) with them. In addition, the junior high school students participate in volunteer programs three hours a week. Their community service work includes helping the elderly, running after-school activity clubs, and tutoring younger students in need of extra help in school. Perhaps the success of Mekor Haim leadership training is best demonstrated by the fact that young alumni return to the school each Friday to run special chugim (clubs or activities) for the students.
Mekor Haim also welcomes children with a variety of special needs, including those with deafness, Down syndrome, borderline retardation, emotional and behavior problems, and dyslexia. The school provides them with the extra attention and assistance they need, but also works to integrate them into the mainstream classes. The special needs children benefit tremendously from this integration, and all of the students learn the important lesson of respecting the differences of others and treating everyone with dignity and respect.
Rabbi Steinsaltz's Influence:
Beyond providing Mekor Haim with a visionary approach to education, Rabbi Steinsaltz is personally involved in the day-to-day activity of the school. The administration meets with the Rabbi on a regular basis to seek his guidance and advice on a variety of issues, including hiring decisions, difficult situations with students or parents, and pedagogic questions. He also visits Mekor Haim every Friday to sit in on classes, meet with teachers, and give a Parsha class to the Junior High School students. The sage influence of Rabbi Steinsaltz can be felt throughout the Mekor Haim school.
Mekor Haim Elementary School
16 Pierre Koenig Street