History - Vancouver Talmud Torah

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Our History

The oldest and largest Jewish day school west of Ontario, Vancouver Talmud Torah traces its roots back to 1913, when the first afternoon/evening classes were held on Heatley Street, in what is now the Strathcona neighbourhood. By 1918 the school had a name, The Vancouver Hebrew School (the first president being Max Grossman), and by 1921 it was the official afternoon school of the Schara Tzedek (synagogue). In 1934 VTT became an independent school, and in 1943 the school became a full day school and moved to an 11-room house on West 14th Avenue.

In 1948, under the leadership of Pops Waterman, Dr. Moses Steinberg, Abe and Sam Rothstein, Irving Lipsky, Jack Aceman, Saul Shaffer, Hy Altman and many others, VTT built the original wing of our present location on Oak Street. At that time, the founders enshrined in the bylaws that VTT would serve as a community school, and would accept all students regardless of their ability to pay tuition. VTT has stayed true to that original vision, and has expanded to a school of 500+ students from a wide diversity of backgrounds. Along with the Jewish and secular curriculum, all students are taught the traditional Jewish values of derekh eretz (care and respect), tikkun olam (world repair through good deeds), and Ahavat Yisrael (love of Israel).

Since 1948, VTT has graduated more than 3000 students. Behind each one stood a loving family and caring community that spent countless hours volunteering, and generously contributed to the various fundraisers and campaigns that have built the successive wings of the school.

Today, VTT is consistently ranked among the top elementary schools in British Columbia, an accomplishment made more impressive by the fact that we do not screen on the basis of academic or financial ability. Enrollment remains consistently high and investments are continually made in technology investment, program development, professional development for faculty and support for our families.

A dedicated team of professionals and lay leaders raised over $24M toward an expanded and revitalized VTT, with construction expected to conclude in September of 2016.

VTT history highlights:

1934: VTT becomes an independent school – Vancouver Talmud Torah Association – under the Society Act of BC

1943: The school became a full day school and moved to an 11-room house on West 14th Avenue.

1948: Original wing of its present location on Oak Street is built

1962: Mortgage burned, school is debt free for the first time in a decade

1964: Pre-school, afterschool and day school enrolment increased by 30 pupils necessitating using classrooms at the Beth Israel Synagogue

1968: Building Fund launched

1970: Construction of the new two-storey addition completed, with several classrooms, office area and library

1986: Plans underway for a new five-classroom wing to replace existing portable classrooms

1987: New one-storey addition completed containing three classrooms and art room area

1992: 2nd storey of new wing completed along with new Morris J. and Dena Wosk z”l auditorium/gymnasium

2008: Enrollment passes 500 students

2011: 60% of VTT graduates attend King David High School, representing 63% of that year’s Grade 8 class

2012: The VTT Campus Campaign is publicly launched on May 16th and embraced by the community

2014: Construction on the new campus begins

2016: Expanded and revitalized campus opens