On March 1, 1951 a small group of devoted people signed the original charter to organize the Springfield Hebrew Day School. Ira J. Bernstein, Aaron Kurn, Bernard Bernstein, Helene Bernstein, Louis Izenstein, Julius Kimball, Morris Hyte, Sylvan Saffer, William Schreiber, Julius Kaletsky, and Maurice Kurn took on the responsibility of hiring teachers, enrolling students, raising funds, and seeing that the education was the finest in both Judaic and General Studies. The school was housed in, what is today tenderly referred to, the old Kodimoh (a synagogue in Springfield.
By 1955, the school had six complete grades. On June 20, 1956, diplomas were presented to the first Hebrew Day School graduates. In 1959, there was interest in starting a seventh grade. After much discussion and debate, a final, closed, tie vote of ten to ten occurred. The president broke the tie. By 1963 enrollment had expanded and additional classrooms were needed. Space was procured in the Perets school building on Sumner Avenue.
In 1964, through the Menkus family, land was acquired in Longmeadow, earmarked for the future home of the school. It was then time for a new image. After much deliberation the name of the school was changed to Heritage Academy.
In March of 1964, Kodimoh was moving to its new building and so Heritage Academy needed to find new quarters. Finally, after months of searching, grades one, two, three and four were held at B’nai Jacob Synagogue; grades five, six and seven at the Jewish Community Center; and kindergarten was held at the new Kodimoh. The rent soared.
It was on April 30, 1966, that board president Dr. Morris Borenstein held his famous Saturday night meeting at Kodimoh. The purpose of the meeting was to get a mandate from the Board to go to the leaders of the community and ask them to raise enough money to pay off our obligations and to close the school at the end of the year. Heritage Academy had a staggering deficit; there was no central location; community resentment blistered . . . The motion to close the school was . . . tabled! What did Morris Borenstein do? By June he had appointed a committee to find a new building for Heritage Academy, and launched with the aid of professional fundraisers a $100,000 building drive. Only in America. Only Morris Borenstein. Only Heritage Academy.
After much searching, the small, devoted, determined group of six or so did indeed find the Wesson Mansion on Maple Street. It was purchased on December 7, 1966, eight months after the famous April 30, 1966 meeting.
In 1982, the current site on the campus of the Jewish Community Center was purchased and the first real, official, Heritage Academy school building was erected with Alan Budnick chairing the campaign.
By the 1990’s, due to increased enrollment, more space was needed at the school. On October 23, 1995 a new addition to the original Heritage Academy building was dedicated. The new Weisfogel-Grinspoon Wing was named in honor of Rabbi Alex Weisfogel, who tirelessly raised over $250,000 for the school, and local businessman Harold Grinspoon. Harold Grinspoon and his wife, Diane Troderman, offered a $400,000 challenge grant to the school, which provided the impetus for the building campaign. The original structure was renamed in memory of the late Karl Zuckerman, a long-time supporter of Jewish education, and former president of the school.
As Heritage Academy has entered the 21st Century, once again the board and administration has explored the school’s image, and place within the Jewish community. The school is now known as Heritage Academy Jewish Community Day School – Beth Morasha.