A vision for academic excellence and engagement
This month, Torah Day School of Ottawa (TDSO) welcomes Dr. Amos Bitzan as Chief Operating Officer and Director of Learning Initiatives. He and his wife, Dr. Marina Zilbergerts, are excited to be moving to Ottawa from Toronto with their four children. Dr. Bitzan is thrilled to be assuming this important role for our community. With a Ph.D. in Modern Jewish History and years of teaching and administrative experience at the university and K-12 levels, Dr. Bitzan is ready for the challenges of running a religiously diverse, Orthodox-focused day school in our small and strong Jewish community.
E-Bulletin: What excited you about this position?
DAB: I was excited by the opportunity to be deeply engaged with the most important responsibility of our community: to educate the next generation of Jewish children. TDSO aims to identify the unique contribution that each student will make to klal yisrael (the Jewish people) and society at large, through rigorous learning in Torah and in the academic disciplines.
I want to have a direct impact on our kids and prepare them to be able to innovate and build in the areas that speak to them - whether that is science, education, literature, finance, medicine, technology, social work, or religious and Jewish communal work.
I believe that this kind of chinukh (Jewish education) in Torah and academics requires, and greatly benefits from, an equally rigorous education in the social, emotional, and spiritual spheres: specifically, helping children practice the midot (character virtues) venerated in our tradition: chesed (kindness), kevod ha-briyot (respect for all of God’s creatures), and rachamim (compassion) - toward each other, teachers, parents, neighbours, and members of the larger community.
Ottawa is an intimate community that maintains vital Jewish infrastructure: an active Federation, shuls, a JCC, schools, eruvin (Shabbat boundary), kosher food, and a mikvah. I was excited by the smaller scale of TDSO and the Ottawa Jewish community because of the opportunity to have a much larger and more immediate impact. In addition, TDSO is lucky to have an energetic board composed of extremely talented lay leaders, many of whom have children in the school, who are deeply involved in the Ottawa Jewish community. Together we will work toward growth and excellence.
EB: What is your vision for the school?
DAB: My vision is to foster academic excellence and engagement across our curriculum, whether that is in math or Chumash (Bible). I want Torah Day School students to have the opportunity to pursue every level of study and career to which they aspire. If a student has their sights set on attending a top-tier university to make groundbreaking discoveries in artificial intelligence - I want them to be able to do this. I believe that alongside effective general education, the right kind of chinukh in Torah and midot are the best path for them to learn perseverance, to achieve excellence, and ultimately to make truly valuable contributions.
I want to give our students opportunities to lead with kindness both at school and in the Ottawa community as proud, learned, and compassionate Jews. By helping our students build enduring commitments to Judaism and its values, our students will face the challenges of the 21st century from a solid ethical foundation and will be able to enrich the world and societies around them and be enriched by them.
EB: What do you hope to accomplish in your first year?
DAB: By working with our principal, Lloyd Schoenmaker, our teachers, and members of our community I plan to build a sustainable culture of excellence in learning for all of our students, whether that is in Talmud, Chumash, science, English, or mathematics through curriculum innovation and professional development for our teachers as well as by empowering our students to become resilient, motivated, and engaged learners.
We will do this by cultivating a climate of kindness and commitment toward one another, a safe space for personal and collective growth, and by taking upon ourselves the highest ethical standards of our Torah. In addition, we aim to derive joy, inspiration, and meaning from our relationships to G-d, the entire diversity of Jewish people in Canada, the larger Diaspora, and in Israel.
Mazel Tov Dr. Bitzan on your appointment. The community looks forward to seeing the school thrive under your leadership.