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From The Voice of Her Students: In Memory of Mrs. Chaya Newman

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I am forever indebted to Mrs. Newman for the outstanding chinuch she provided to so many members of my family. As a wife of a popular Bruriah AP Psych teacher, and now a mother of another Psych and Limudei Kodesh teacher, it warms my heart to know that we are continuing Mrs. Newman’s legacy. Honestly, I could fill a book with my gratitude and personal reflection s- a great idea actually! Mrs. Newman truly was an “Eim Kol Chai” and her roshem is felt every day by our family. Yehi zichronah baruch.

Melissa (Danto) Rayman, Bruriah Graduating Class of 1987

Mrs. Newman taught me some tricks for educating my own students when she handled our ninth grade strike beautifully. We went on strike (picket signs and all) around the school – too much work, tests – the usual. Instead of reprimanding us and getting angry, she smiled, listened and took out a video camera to record us as she thought it was creative and cute. Because she handled it with grace, when the break was over, we all dutifully marched back to class without further disturbance.

Since my over 300 students (so far) have thus benefited from Mrs. Newman’s lessons, (some of whom are already teachers themselves) you can add those to her numbers. Not to mention my family – I sent my only daughter to Bruriah as well – it made me feel like a million bucks when I walked into the ballroom for the open house and Mrs. Newman not only recognized me after so many years, but greeted my daughter with such enthusiasm. That daughter is now happily married and living in Yerushalayim, ready to continue the chain that Mrs. Newman helped create.

Beth (Stadtmauer) Held, Bruriah Graduating Class of 1989

When I think of Mrs. Newman I can’t help but smile. She was a great principal, but more importantly, an amazing role model. She always made herself available to her students. In my junior year, my grandfather was niftar, which was very tough for me. When I returned to school, while my mother sat shiva, I was met with an unsympathetic teacher. I excused myself from class and marched to Mrs. Newman’s office where she offered words of comfort and let me cry my eyes out. Her words of chizuk helped me through the day.

Rebecca (Sheffey) Spirn, Bruriah Graduating Class of 1995

Mrs. Newman drove me home every day to Brooklyn, where I was boarding, for the first half of ninth grade. I was a scared freshman very far away from home but she managed to make me comfortable and helped ease my transition very much. Over my high school years I had many occasions to travel back and forth to Brooklyn with her, and benefit from her wise, honest, caring advice and ideas. She often told me I should express hakaras hatov to the family I had boarded with and always was a source of wise counsel. Most of all, she was directly responsible for making Bruriah the school it was, which was a very wonderful place and for me. I would never have been the person I am today had it not been for Bruriah. And Bruriah would never have been the place it was without Mrs. Newman.

Miriam (Weiss) Lerner, Bruriah Graduating Class of 2008

Mrs. Newman was and will always be my example of a dynamic educator. She helped build Bruriah in to a successful institution where Jewish commitment, academic rigor, and positive school culture serve as the school’s core identity. I chose to pursue a career in formal Jewish education perhaps to emulate Mrs. Newman’s dedication.

Rina Eisenberg, Bruriah Graduating Class of 2008

What was so remarkable about Mrs. Newman was that despite her own diamond-hard convictions and hashkafos, she had a big enough heart and a broad enough mind to love and accept girls of so many backgrounds, viewpoints and ideologies, and to create a school where all of them could be valued. She came into Bruriah from her own yeshivish background and created a school where girls from public school, day school and Bais Yaakov could learn and grow. The lessons of understanding, acceptance and true ahavas Yisrael that she imparted through her actions and through the magnificent school she built are what really changed the way I think and behave. My Bruriah friends and I are all vastly different, but that deepens our relationships rather than destroy them. That is entirely a credit to Mrs. Newman. She encouraged me, and so many others, to grow and to strive for more, while showing that it’s possible to reach great heights without looking down at anyone else.

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A Sarah Schenirer of our times, Mrs. Chaya Newman was a trailblazer in the field of women’s Jewish education. She inspired and guided thousands of students and fellow educators with the careful curriculum she created, and example she set. She had the rare gift of bringing out the best in her students, commanding respect while remaining as loving and accessible as a grandmother.

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