Paul Berger of Stamford has been elected president of the Board of Directors of Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy of Connecticut, it was announced recently by outgoing BCHA Board President David Pitkoff.
In addition to Dr. Berger, other newly elected members of the BCHA Board include vice presidents Dan Haron, Greg Teitel and Linda Russ, Board treasurer David Zizmor and Board secretary Meredith Cohen.
“Dr. Berger is one of the true gadols [greats] of our school having previously served as president of the Board,” said Mr. Pitkoff in a letter to the BCHA community. “His leadership and commitment to the mission of our school is unparalleled.”
Rabbi Tzvi Bernstein, who currently serves as dean of BCHA and will take over as interim head of school in June, when Jackie Herman retires, agrees.
“BCHA is very fortunate to have a long history of brilliant, caring and dedicated Board presidents who have contributed great amounts of time and all of their talents to ensure that BCHA accomplishes its mission to provide an excellent Judaic and general studies education to the children of our community and the greater Fairfield County and Westchester County region” says Rabbi Bernstein. “Dr. Berger has already distinguished himself as such an individual when he first served as president from 2006-2010, [when] I was privileged to serve under him as a member of the Board of Directors. I am excited that I will once again have the opportunity to benefit from his very capable leadership.”
A native of Providence, R.I., Dr. Berger and his wife, Dina, moved to Westport from New York in 1979. The couple moved to Stamford following his retirement in 2010 from Bridgeport Hospital, where he served for 30 years as chief of oncology. The Bergers’ three children – a daughter and two sons – are all BCHA alumni, married and with families of their own.
Through the years, Dr. Berger has remained an active member of the BCHA Board. So when the school asked him to once again serve as president, he couldn’t say no.
“It’s an interesting time; a time when we’re going through a lot of transitions. And it’s a time of peril and opportunity and difficult times for day schools, specifically in terms of the cost of school and trying to make day school education available to as many people as possible without sacrificing the quality of the education,” he says.
On the other hand, he points out, “A lot of people from New York are moving to Stamford [in search of] a better quality of life. So, it’s an opportunity to make things grow.
He looks forward to working with Rabbi Bernstein, as well as Rachel Haron, currently principal of the BCHA Lower School, who take on the role of interim associate head of school.
“We were looking for the right person and we had a very talented person in Tzvi Bernstein,” says Dr. Berger. “He’s exceptionally smart. He gave up a very successful law career, because at that point in his life he just wanted to dedicate his time to Jewish education. We’re lucky to have him. And we’re lucky to have Rachel [Haron] as well. She’s a wonderful person and so very talented.”
Dr. Berger calls his predecessor, David Pitkoff, “The best president Bi-Cultural has ever had,” adding, “He’s a special, special man.”
Likewise, Mr. Pitkoff feels confident he is leaving the school in good hands.
Says Mr. Pitkoff: “We are thrilled to have such an amazing and talented group of leaders as we move towards an even brighter future.”