The HEBREW ACADEMY is an Orthodox day school that provides a full religious and secular education from pre-kindergarten to high school. The academy was established in 1943 through the efforts of Rabbi Elijah M. Bloch and Rabbi Chaim M. Katz of the TELSHE YESHIVA to provide a Torah-oriented education for Cleveland's Jewish youth. Classes began in Sept. 1943 with 24 students of elementary-school age meeting in the basement of the Cleveland Jewish Ctr. By 1946 the academy's enrollment was 170, and construction began on a new building on Taylor Rd. which was dedicated in Jan. 1949.

A year earlier, the Hebrew Academy had become an affiliate of the JEWISH COMMUNITY FED. by joining the BUREAU OF JEWISH EDUCATION. From its original enrollment of 24 students, the academy grew to 800 in 1993. Several new classroom and multipurpose wings were added to the original building between 1953 and 1985. The Hebrew Academy expanded its age-group offering beginning in 1951, when a Jr. High School department was added. The Yavne High School for Girls was established in 1957, and a boys' high school, Mesivta, was created in 1965. In recognition of the donation by Irving Stone of land and buildings, the latter is now known as the Jacob Sapirstein Mesivta High School in honor of Stone's father, the founder of AMERICAN GREETINGS CORP. In 1979 a foreign-student division was created to provide religious and secular classes for nearly 140 Iranian and Russian children. Rabbi N. W. Dessler, principal since 1944, assumed the position of dean in 1988. Enrollment for the 1994-95 school year was 747 and Rabbi Shalom Strajcher served as education director.

By 2022, Beis Chinuch Harav Dessler (The Rabbi Dessler Academy), officially still known as the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland, provided an intensive Judaic and General Studies curriculum from early childhood through high school to over 1,350 students. As of that year, the Academy had educated over 7,000 students. The school’s locations had expanded from its building on South Taylor Road to South Green Road in Beachwood in 2002 and to the grounds of the former Oakwood Country Club on Warrensville Center Road, purchased in 2016. The historic Oakwood Campus featured a new and spacious beis midrash (place of Torah study), a state-of-the-art computer lab, science lab and gymnasium equipped with basketball and tennis courts and an exercise room. The school’s divisions included an early childhood department; a Yeshiva Ketana (elementary division) for boys; an elementary division for girls; a boys Junior High School; and the Beatrice J. Stone Yavne High School, a Bais Yaakov community school for girls, grades seven through twelve. The boys high school division is known as the Yeshiva of Cleveland, as of 2016.

The Hebrew Academy of Cleveland Kollel, Kollel Ateres Nochum Zev, an advanced Judaic studies program for married men, is a group of young scholars who immerse themselves in the study of Torah while interacting with and mentoring the students of the Academy’s Junior High School and the Yeshiva of Cleveland. The Kollel provided a structured program for teens on the Sabbath. The Academy offered a range of support services to accommodate students with special needs.

Rabbi Simcha Dessler served as education director while Rabbi Eli Dessler was financial director. Both were sons of Rabbi N.W. Dessler (d. 2011).


Updated by Sylvia Abrams

Last updated: 3/28/2023


Black, white and red text reading Western Reserve Historical Society

 Finding Aid for the Cleveland Bureau of Jewish Education Records, WRHS.

 Hebrew Academy Records, WRHS.

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