The Leo Baeck Day School

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Leo Baeck Day School
School type Jewish day school
Religious affiliation(s) Reform Judaism
Founded 1974 (1974)
Rabbi Noam Katz
Head of school Eric Petersiel
Grades Preschool-8
Enrollment 850 (2015-2016 school year)
Language English, Hebrew, French
Color(s) Blue, Green, White, Yellow
South Campus
501 Arlington Ave
Toronto, Ontario, M6C 3A4
Principal Rochelle Chester
North Campus
36 Atkinson Ave
Thornhill, Ontario, L4J 8C9
Principal Yvette Burke

The Leo Baeck Day School[1] is a Greater Toronto Area Reform Jewish day school in Ontario, Canada composed of around nine hundred students from Nursery to Grade Eight. Named in honour of Rabbi Leo Baeck, it has two campuses in Thornhill and Toronto.


Leo Baeck is the only Jewish IB (International Baccalaureate) World School and the largest Reform Jewish day school in Canada.

The school is run by the Head of School, Eric Petersiel,[2] a principal at each campus (Yvette Burke at the North Campus and Lauren Sigel at the South Campus), and a Board of Directors, composed of parents and members of the community. The school is affiliated with the Centre for Jewish Education of the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, the Union for Reform Judaism, and PARDeS, the Progressive Association of Reform Day Schools.

The North Campus includes classes from Nursery through Grade 8 and the South Campus includes Senior Kindergarten through Grade 8. Leo Baeck publishes "Baeck and Call" a bi-annual magazine that showcases the school and its community.

School history[edit]

The Leo Baeck Day School opened in 1974 at Toronto’s Temple Emanu-El with fewer than 40 students. The founding parents envisioned a school with a reputation for excellence in both general and Jewish studies, attracting liberal Jewish families, including those who had never before considered Jewish day school education. The School was supported and funded by Reform synagogues across Toronto with the vision that it would model and teach the core values of Reform Judaism. With growth and the need for more room, the School moved to Temple Sinai and then to the portable classroom facilities near York Mills Collegiate. Next, the School moved to Kenton Drive Public School – a surplus Toronto District School Board (TDSB) building.

In 1994, the school found a permanent home at 36 Atkinson Avenue in Thornhill. At the time, the space was built as a centre for Reform Judaism and included facilities for CCRJ and community mikvah (still in use) in addition to the day school. Now called the school’s North Campus, it offers Nursery to Grade 8. In 2011, physical renewal at the North Campus included a new playground, and rebuilt sanctuary, secondary chapel, entrance and new gym floor. The building is also home to Temple Kol Ami.

The South Campus opened in 1992 at the Holy Blossom Temple, with fewer than 20 students. Steady growth of the South Campus over an 11-year period created the need for an independent facility and in the fall of 2012, the school moved into the newly renovated facility that was formerly the Arlington Middle School. A year before, Leo Baeck purchased the building when it became surplus by the Toronto District School Board. The move brought enrollment from 360 to 455 in one year, including three new Junior Kindergarten classes, extra Senior Kindergarten and an additional Grade 1 class.

New direction[edit]

In January 2011, the school was accepted as an official International Baccalaureate school for the Middle School years. The introduction of "Best Practices" in the Primary grades supports the IB philosophy, although the Primary School is not an official International Baccalaureate school. Since the initiation of the International Baccalaureate Program,[3] the school has taken a more progressive approach to learning, including the introduction of technology in the curriculum. That consists of the installation of a SMARTBoard in every classroom, hard-wired and mobile computer labs used by all grades - including a Junior Technology Lab at the South Campus, a set of iPads at each campus, use of web-based technology to enable cross-campus planning and collaboration, and the development of a new IB-based Middle School Technology course that was implemented in 2010-2011.


  1. ^ "Leo Baeck - Home". Retrieved 2014-03-05. 
  2. ^ "Top 20 Under 40 - Eric Petersiel". Shalom Life. Retrieved 2014-03-05. 
  3. ^ "Toronto Day School Gets Prestigious Accreditation". Shalom Life. Retrieved 2014-03-05. 

External links[edit]