Naomi Reem, a brilliant strategic leader and Jewish educator, has spent her professional life serving the Jewish community and developing educational frameworks that provided life-changing experiences for children and their families. She will oversee and support Brawerman Elementary School and the Early Childhood Center on all of our campuses, in close partnership with the Heads of School and be responsible for increasing coordination among the Schools, the campuses, and with the Temple, as the Schools grow and thrive.
Naomi was on sabbatical following an impressive 15-year tenure as Head of School at Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital, which under her leadership transformed from a small community day school in Washington, DC, to one of the top Jewish and independent schools in North America. A move to Los Angeles wasn't something she imagined, "But when I read the job description and researched the Temple Schools, and the LA community, it seemed like a real capstone opportunity."
What did you see in the Wilshire Boulevard Temple schools that impressed you – and what direction do you think you’ll take them?
Each one of the schools provides students with an outstanding education, strong values, and excellent academic skills – and they nurture the whole child. For me, this is the basis of a superior school; you can’t just educate the brain, but social, emotional, spiritual, and physical development. Everything the team does comes from a thoughtful place, not just because it’s something that has been done or is the first plan that came to mind.
In the 10th and 20th years, schools mature as organizations, and new systems need to be built. I want to look at the entire operation as connected pieces – to join the schools and temples in a more seamless system.
What difference do you think choosing a Jewish day school over a secular one makes?
A Jewish school shows students how to ask the existential questions we grapple with within a Jewish context. It gives our students an identity to go into the world comfortable as Jews on a soul level. The skills students learn from Hebrew and Judaic studies are fully transferable to all aspects of their intellectual lives. They don’t call us “the people of the book” for no reason!
What do you see as the school’s role in addressing antisemitism?
We address this by having our students feel comfortable about who they are, having strong role models, knowing Jewish history, and seeing the value of being Jewish. We strengthen the students so when they are faced with the world being not as kind, their internal core is not threatened by it.
How has the pandemic shifted things?
How students will interact with each other after the pandemic is still to be seen. But we know that kids are resilient and they developed true grit over the past 18 months. However, the social and emotional component of education will be more needed than ever.
What was your favorite subject in school?
Hebrew language and history.
Why do you love the Hebrew language?
Hebrew is a super poetic language. It’s a very economical language; it has very few words to say a lot of things, and it’s beautiful.