Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School was founded in 1972 by a group of visionary families in the San Fernando Valley and with the support of local Conservative and Reform rabbis. The goal was to establish a community Jewish day school that would provide exemplary programs in both General and Judaic studies. With the vision of starting a community Jewish day school serving the diverse Jewish population of the San Fernando Valley, the school opened its doors with a single kindergarten class and added one grade level each year. The school's namesake, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, was not only a brilliant philosopher and influential teacher, but he also embodied our core values: tradition, character, and community. His varied interests in religious pluralism, human dignity, civil rights, personal fulfillment, Israel, education, mitzvot, and service speak directly to the pillars on which we were founded.
With a commitment to the whole child and guided by the Jewish values of integrity, justice, intellectual curiosity, and compassion, Heschel started as a grassroots operation scattered among campuses at different synagogues throughout the Valley. Within a short time, the school began to gain recognition for its outstanding educational program developed under the leadership of its founding principal, Shirley Levine. In 1979, Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School’s three acre campus was permanently established in Northridge - the evidence of the dedicated work of parents and faculty.
Following Shirley Levine’s retirement in 2003, Betty Winn served as Head of School for a decade, and was followed by Larry Kligman ('85), Heschel's current Head of School. Larry has spent over four decades at Heschel. He began first as a student and then had the role of teacher and coach before becoming an administrator. His leadership and vision have brought academic innovation, investments in faculty and staff opportunities and development, and the cultivation and elevation of Heschel's community celebrations and events to serve as a Jewish home for our families.