>>Mission, History, and Values
Mission, History, and Values 2017-12-04T16:37:43+00:00

Our Mission

To provide the highest quality Judaic and General studies education and to establish a strong foundation for lifelong learning in a dynamic, supportive, and enriching Jewish environment.


Nearly 60 years ago, the community realized a need to provide a high-quality curriculum of general and Judaic studies for Jewish children. And so it was that a group joined together for a common cause: Joe Jaffe*, Rabbi Joe Schecter, Rabbi Israel Bornstein*, Soloman Yavner*, Molly* and IP Gordon*, Jack Stein*, William Mazel*, Harold Goodman*, Harold Burstein, Willie Einhorn* and Carl Katz* (* of blessed memory). Thanks to their commitment and unwavering dedication, the Hebrew Academy of Tidewater opened its doors in 1955 on Norfolk’s, Virginia’s Shirley Avenue. It may have been a modest beginning with a mere eight students, but it was definitely an historic moment for Tidewater.

Fast forward to the present and the sophisticated and academically challenging school serves students from kindergarten through 5th grade. Situated on Virginia Beach’s Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus of the Tidewater Jewish Community, HAT proudly boasts a beautiful 126,000 square foot facility with spacious classrooms, state-of-the-art science and computer labs, an extraordinary two-story library, regulation-size gymnasium and intramurals programs.

Today, the institution has some of the best general studies programs offered by any local private or public school. What’s more, the school builds upon the character and spirit of our children through the teachings of our Jewish heritage without sacrificing the integrity of their general studies.Under the direction of Mrs. Heather Moore, head of school, Hebrew Academy is a recipient agency of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, Tidewater Jewish Foundation and the United Jewish Community of the Virginia Peninsula. HAT holds a full membership in and accreditation by the Virginia Association of Independent Schools and National Association of Independent Schools. We are also a member of RAVSAK, a Jewish Community Day School network. The Strelitz Early Childhood Center is named for local businessmen Joseph (“Buddy”) and Leonard Strelitz, who until their deaths in 1984 and 1999 respectively, were among the most philanthropic and caring members of our region. Avid supporters of education and the development of the State of Israel, they and their wives, Arlene and Joyce, donated funds in 1979 to establish a kindergarten and nursery school in the town of Yahud, near Tel Aviv. It is with great pride, therefore, that Leonard and Buddy’s families have chosen to create a second Strelitz Early Childhood Center in Tidewater, forming an historic and vibrant link between the two nations that were such an integral part of the brothers’ adult lives.

The Strelitz Early Childhood Center is the product of years of experience in child development and a marriage of two longstanding, highly successful programs, uniting talented faculty and administration from both the Marilyn and Marvin Simon Jewish Community Center and the Hebrew Academy of Tidewater. The program has two divisions; Beginnings, for children under age 2, and Preschool, for children ages 2-4 years-old.

What’s in a name?

Joe Jaffe*, one of Hebrew Academy’s founding fathers, recalls the story of how the Hebrew Academy of Tidewater got its Hebrew name:“In the early 1970’s Rabbi Bornstein* and I would go out and solicit folks for contributions every Monday and Thursday. One of the contributors was a retired navy chief who bought an old church in Portsmouth and then converted it to a synagogue. In fact, the church’s baptismal water bath was later turned into the synagogue’s Micvah. One day, the navy chief, who went by the last name of Goodman, donated the synagogue to HAT and then HAT, in turn, sold the property and used the money towards building the school on Thompkins Lane. Chief Goodman’s only request was that the school be named in memory of his grandfather, Jacob Goodman. While it remains a little known fact, upon the opening of the Hebrew Academy’s doors on Thompkins Lane, it was given a Hebrew name – Ohel Yaacov – which translates to Jacob’s tent…and forevermore, it has always been named.”