Jewish Montessori Enrollment Grows By 75% Over Five Years


Enrollment Survey Graph 2012

Washington, DC-February 3, 2013--“In spite of the worst economic downturn in 75 years, Jewish families continue to flock to Jewish Montessori Schools,” said Ami Petter-Lipstein, Executive Director of the Jewish Montessori Society. “Defying the flat and declining enrollment trends of traditional Jewish Day Schools, the results from the 2012 Jewish Montessori enrollment survey of 8 leading JM schools with full elementary programs confirm the core insight of Jewish data expert Sacha Litman: ‘Quality, not price, drives Jewish day school enrollment.’”


Jewish Montessori School Enrollment Figures (Early Childhood and Elementary Combined)


Fall 2007

Fall 2008

Fall 2009

Fall 2010

Fall 2011

Fall 2012

Alef Bet, Rockville, MD 







CMCH Atlanta, GA 







Luria Academy, Brooklyn, NY 







MJDS Toronto







Yeshivat Netivot Montessori, Edison, NJ







Shalom Montessori, Scottsdale, AZ







Torah Montessori, Chicago







Beren Academy, Houston














* CMCH is in modular space this year while building a new building. There are only 92 seats available.

^ Fall 2010, a single sex school run by AISH opened nearby in Scottsdale                                    

**In Spring 2012 TMS faced a operating budget gap that led to false rumors that the school was closing which impacted enrollment.                                                                                                                    

*** Beren's JM program is only for Grades 1-5. Beren's traditional middle school includes Grade 6-8 so decline reflects "graduation" to middle school.                                                                                                                 

Jewish Montessori: Child-Centered Education is Ideal for a Child-Centered Tradition

Jewish Montessori
Child-Centered Education is Ideal for a Child-Centered Tradition

by Daniel C. Petter-Lipstein | January 2012 | 1 Comment »

After three months and countless e-mail exchanges, my new friend Jim (who lives near the beach in Santa Barbara) informed me that he would steal away from his intense, two-day marketing seminar outside Manhattan so we could finally meet in person over dinner.  Although it was our first face-to-face meeting, we were quickly chatting like old friends.

Early in our conversation, Jim (who is a Christian pastor) described his deep respect for Jewish tradition, because it was so child-centered.  He noted how much he enjoyed attending Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, moving ceremonies where the Jewish child’s family and community celebrate this milestone in a child’s life and emphasize that child’s sacred place in the Jewish community.

The two-hour dinner with Jim was much too short.  Though we richly explored several topics, this concept of Judaism as a “child-centered tradition” left the deepest impression.  As I reflected on this idea, I realized that Jim was only scratching the surface.  Beyond the numerous Biblical and Talmudic imperatives to educate children, one could view the fundamental Jewish ritual of the Passover seder as deeply child-centered.
The four questions asked by the youngest child present, the text of the four sons, the hiding of the afikoman.  The entire evening, narrating the liberation from bondage in Egypt, is an elaborate prepared environment to engage children and inspire them to ask questions about the central historical narrative of the Jewish people.
As I pondered this theme, Jim’s educational challenge to me at dinner reverberated: “Shouldn’t a child-centered tradition like Judaism genuinely support and widely promote the child-centered educational approach of Montessori?”

Decades before the notion of child-centered learning became fashionable in innovative educational circles, Dr. Maria Montessori pioneered the Montessori method of education with the imperative of “following the child.”  Dr. Montessori understood, early in the 20th century, that children were natural learners, full of curiosity, eager to investigate and comprehend their worlds.  She developed a pedagogical approach where the teacher was not the “sage on the stage,” keeper of knowledge to be poured into the empty vessels of children’s minds.
Instead, teachers were to be trained as “guides on the side,” preparing a rich, multi-sensory environment, filled with hands-on activities that children could freely choose, explore and master.  Teachers are not the sole sources of wisdom, but rather work to provide guidance and academic, social and emotional support for the children in their care.  Indeed, in many Montessori schools, the adults in the room are not referred to as teachers, but as “guides.”
Each day, every child freely chooses his or her main activities for the day.  If a child is riveted by math, he can spend two hours doing math activities.  There is no rigid schedule, dictated by grown-ups, that says first we do reading, then math, then social studies.

When children are empowered to own their learning this way, they engage more fully, learn more deeply and generally come to school with a wide smile on their face.  Whether they are toddlers or twelve-year olds, they are treated with the same honor, respect and independence as if every day were their Bat or Bar Mitzvah.

The Montessori child-centered approach is implemented at every age level, from infant through high school.  Modified in its details to carefully meet each developmental stage of childhood, the Montessori method retains its core principles, whether in a preschool class (ages 3 to 6) or in a classroom of seventh and eighth graders.  Montessori classrooms have a mix of ages, because children learn best from each other and demonstrate true mastery, not by acing an exam, but by teaching a concept to a younger classmate.

Over the past 15 years, trail-blazing Jewish educators have adapted this brilliant educational approach to create more than 30 amazing Jewish Montessori schools throughout North America, where children learn Judaic and general studies through hands-on, multi-sensory materials, in classic Montessori mixed-age classrooms.  Whether mastering the Hebrew alphabet, the rituals of Chanukah or the principles of biology, Jewish Montessorians have created rich, exciting environments — classrooms where children become so engrossed in their work, they often don’t look up and notice that the clock says recess started 15 minutes ago.

I was privileged in early September to visit the newest member of the Jewish Montessori family, Olam Jewish Montessori, located at Beth Jacob Congregation of Irvine. Visionary founder Robyn Farber and her staff have created a Jewish Montessori preschool that is absolutely stunning and first-rate.  From the exquisite materials to the beautifully-designed classrooms to the superbly trained, enthusiastic and loving faculty, I am confident that Olam will quickly become known as a place for outstanding and incomparable Jewish education.
As Jewish parents, we are heirs to a glorious 4,000-year tradition.  Transmitting this child-centered tradition to the next generation is perhaps our most sacred obligation.  I can think of no better way to fulfill this holy duty than through the child-centered approach of Jewish Montessori.

Daniel C. Petter-Lipstein is the Chief Love Officer of the Jewish Montessori Society (JMS).  He walked into Yeshivat Netivot Montessori in Edison, New Jersey, almost 6 years ago and his life has never been the same.  He graduated from Harvard College and Columbia Law School and is a lawyer at a Fortune 50 company.  The JMS works to create a world where every Jewish child across the globe can attend a Jewish Montessori school within 30 miles of his or her home.

This article was published in Orange County Jewish Life in January 2012.

JewMo Worldwide - The Search for Educators

I got two extraordinary phone calls yesterday. The first call came from a Judaic Studies teacher in a major city who was totally FED UP with the teacher's school's efforts to extrinsicly motivate their elementary students to learn. "Why can't we allow their own, intrinsic motivation to guide them?" This teacher is "totally sold on Jewish Montessori." "No need to convince me, I just need to know what to do next."

Are there other teachers out there in the Jewish world like the one mentioned above? If you know any, send them our way. We have a lot of schools searching for teachers. Let me rephrase that: we have A LOT of schools looking for elementary educators. Lots. Really. Pre-school openings also, but openings for MANY elementary level educators.

The other extraordinary call I got yesterday came from parents in a major city in Europe. They are planning to open a new pre-school this fall, 2012, and guess what! They need teachers, too.

You'll notice a new page on our site, under "What We Do," titled Jewish Montessori Job Bank. Please send us your openings!

For information on training programs planning to open their doors this year, please email!

Excellent article about Montessori

by Alex Beam, another excellent article about Montessori.

Succeeding at their own pace
Alex Beam
The Montessori approach to education and some of its famous alumni have made great strides in recent years
August 26, 2011|By Alex Beam, Globe Columnist

One of my favorite writers, Steven Levy, has published a new book about Google: “In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives.’’ Cynics might call it a disguised ad for the cabinet of many wonders that is Google - as if the company needs promotion. It is also a heartfelt Valentine to the Montessori educational system, which, Levy writes, inspired the Google experience.

“You can’t understand Google unless you know that both Larry [Page] and Sergey [Brin] were Montessori kids,’’ one staffer tells Levy. “Montessori really teaches you to do things on your own at your own pace and schedule,’’ Brin says in the book. “It was a pretty fun, playful environment - like Google.’’

Maria Montessori was an Italian doctor who believed that young children could learn better and more quickly in a school environment that didn’t feel like a school. Hallmarks of Montessori schools include child-appropriate furniture, older children teaching younger children, and lesson plans that are invisible to the pupils.

Typically, Montessori teachers shepherd children into and out of learning experiences, at their own pace. If a 10-year-old girl is enjoying long division, for instance, she can do long division all day. No bell will ring. Spelling can wait, until next week if necessary.

I gleaned some Montessori background from Wikipedia, founded by - you guessed it - self-described Montessori kid Jimmy Wales. Wall Street Journal writer Peter Sims recently included Wales in a distinguished “Montessori mafia’’ that includes Brin, Page, Jeff Bezos, the founder of, and Will Wright, creator of SimCity and The Sims.

Forget for a moment what you think about Amazon (my friends in publishing hate its predatory price behavior) or whether you disdain Wikipedia as a sewer of error and confusion (I see it has corrected that mistake about my being born in Oakland) - both organizations are stupendous acts of applied imagination. I’ve raved, in a good way, about Google before. SimCity? I’ve been there. It’s wonderful.

You wouldn’t want to compete with Amazon, but it does keep adding fascinating new fillips to its business. My latest enthusiasm: Amazon Singles. I am dying to write one. It turns out that I’m too lazy. But I digress.

If Montessori was a stock, you would buy it. There are almost 4,200 private Montessori schools in the United States now, compared to 3,500 a quarter century ago. In the past 20 years, more than 140 charter schools have been founded on Montessori principles. A quarter century ago, 50 public schools used the Montessori method. That number is now 280.

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