NYHS search committee chooses a new head of school


After nine months, the NYHS head of school search committee elected Rabbi Yehuda Gabay to lead the school. 

A search committee of 10 community members was formed to lead the search for the new head for school. The committee worked alongside Lydia Musher from Traditions Search Partners, which specializes in finding educators and heads of school. The committee advertised for the position and recommended three finalists. One candidate dropped out for unknown reasons; a fourth finalist who joined the search late, Rabbi Boruch Perton, also dropped out. The committee ultimately presented Gabay and Rabbi Chaim Weiss to the community as finalists. 

Weiss, Gabay and Perton all had the opportunity to come and visit the school. They each got to meet with teachers, parents and students so that they could get to know each other. They all spent a Shabbat here and were hosted by Seward Park families. When Gabay visited Seattle, he felt like he was “part of the family,” he said. “They welcomed me and my family with open arms.” 

Gabay, originally from Panama, has experience leading Jewish schools. His previous titles include associate principal, general Judaic director, and Judaic teacher. His most recent position was associate principal at Cincinnati Hebrew Day School. Gabay received his rabbinical ordination in 2007 from Aish HaTorah. According to his resume, Gabay plans to lead with “compassion, fortitude, and integrity.”

I’m excited to start working with students and staff, I’m a lifelong learner so I’m excited to learn from the community and school and to give back

— Rabbi Gabay

After current head of school Jason Feld announced he was stepping down, NYHS board got straight to creating a search committee composed of dedicated volunteer participants from around the community including parents, teachers and board members who reflect a wide range of interests and perspectives. Rachel Rosenfeld, the head of the search committee and vice president of the board, explained that before they could even start the search for a new head of school, Musher conducted a survey for the community last summer, asking what they were looking for in a head of school. 

The NYHS head of school search committee had a difficult decision to make, but they had various qualities in mind for the future head of school. The committee’s main focuses were finding a positive Orthodox role model, embracing the diversity of the school, maintaining and strengthening the school’s academic rigor, embracing the diversity of the school community by Torah values in a positive way and having the ability to work with the board as a partner on the governance, strategy and development.

“We appreciate the community’s feedback throughout this process and are excited to welcome Rabbi Gabay to our school community,” said Rosenfeld. 

Rabbi Chaim Weiss is currently the director of Judaic studies for K-8 at Seattle Hebrew Academy. Previously, Weiss worked as a teacher at Northwest Yeshiva High School from 2002 to 2019 and was the dean of students from 2018 to 2019. Many students expected and hoped for Weiss to be selected as the new head of school. Weiss moved to SHA in 2019.

After six years, Feld is leaving. “It’s definitely bittersweet,” Feld said. “I’m excited and looking forward to the next chapter both for myself and NYHS, and I’m going to miss the students and my colleagues and this beautiful city.” Feld is proud of the faculty he has put together and is proud of the school culture the students have built. In the coming years, Feld hopes that the school grows in Seattle in terms of the depth and breadth of its accomplishments. He also hopes that the students will continue to “make us proud and apply themselves both in and out of the classroom and be a kiddush Hashem.” 

“I think Feld has set up a lot of things at the school we hope to carry on. He’s made great connections for our students and our school and we are happy with where the school is under his leadership,” said Rosenfeld.

For the coming year, Rosenfeld said that, “there will be an on-boarding process, we will get to know them better, they will get to know the school better and we will then come up with a process for when they will start, and we will have a plan that will help everyone be successful.” The school currently has 42 enrolled students. “We would like to grow enrollment and next year is looking good,” she said. “I think the school is in a good position right now in many ways.” 

Gabay and his family are looking forward to the next step in his career and his move to Seattle. “We are very excited, very, very excited, baruch Hashem,” said Gabay.