SAR Academy to celebrate its 55th anniversary with gala

Principal wants to balance time of darkness with the light of life


For their 55th anniversary, SAR Academy will celebrate with a gala dedicated to their relationship and love of Israel.

The gala includes a dinner that is used as a celebration of the school’s history, longevity, and prosperity. Their 50th anniversary was a “jubilee celebration” and became the theme for that year. This year’s celebration has taken a much more quiet approach.

The dinner will focus on five facets of SAR’s relationship with Israel. SAR Academy Principal Binyamin Krauss said. The five facets of the event are parents or alumnae currently serving the state of Israel, resilience and loss, activism and connection, advocacy, and education.

“We hope it will still be positive celebratory and hopeful but toned down as I think the time that we’re in demands,” academy Principal and Rabbi Benyamin Krauss elaborated, “The challenge of doing a dinner this year is pretty obvious, it’s a pretty hard time in the middle of war and there’s so many direct connections to that.”

SAR Academy was founded in 1969. SAR High School was established in 2003 in an effort to continue the rigorous academics and flourishing of Jewish community that began with the academy. The original SAR school was founded with the merger of Salanter Yeshiva, Akiba Hebrew Academy, and the Riverdale Hebrew Day School - giving it the name Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy.

SAR High School, although founded later, will also join in on the celebration as the fundraising event is for all students.

In this time of war, the school has tried to foster positivity and peace everywhere they can. Rabbi Krauss said that the students gather every day on the steps for several minutes of prayer and song. This time helps them stay connected to one another and their home and has proven very meaningful. The school has also engaged in letter-writing projects to soldiers and sending students, teachers, and parents to rallies.

Every year SAR comes up with a theme they are committed to for the school year. The 2023-2024 theme is reaching out with the tagline “Reach out. Reach in. Reach beyond.” The school states that the theme “will highlight our school’s community to fostering connections and embracing both our immediate and broader community.”

The theme ties into their belief they have a responsibility to one another. Of course ,when the school created the theme they had no idea what the year held or that their theme of reaching out would be more poignant than ever in a year they spent reaching out to Israel in every way they could.

Over the last several months the school has raised more than $1 million they donated to various campaigns and projects assisting Israel. The school’s website has a page dedicated to the list of Israeli projects they have funded and how much was given to each. Among the projects they have donated to supply aid to soldiers, for an organization’s Chanukah party, to help cover the cost of shipping a grill to Israel for Grilling for IDF (Israel Defense Forces), and countless others.

“I don’t want them to process this as Israel is that scary place where people are dying I mean that’s happening right but there’s a lot more to it,” said Rabbi Krauss. It’s very important to the rabbi stories of positivity, strength, resilience, and inspiration are brought to the children whenever possible.

In past years the dinner has been a grand celebration. This year’s celebration will not include any honorees or guests of honor as they want to keep the ceremony as respectful as possible. The spotlight is really meant to stay on Israel.

Rabbi Krauss said they considered not hosting the gala due to the nature of the times but the event is also a fundraiser for the school. He said of the gala’s focus that the school has been trying to support Israel and their seemingly endless needs at this time. The money raised pays for the tuition of students and the dinner brings in much-needed funds.

According to the Rabbi roughly 50 percent of the student population receive financial assistance and with about 970 students attending SAR there is no shortage of students in need of the community’s help.

The celebration will be held on Feb. 3 at the high school. Community members can join
the celebration on with a donation of $375, which will secure a reservation for one seat. A donation of $750 or more includes two reservations.

SAR Academy, Rabbi Binyamin Krauss, anniversary, gala, dinner, Israel,