BJE Builder - Mark Shpall, Head of School at de Toledo High School

Jewish education is the context in which all of Judaism, and its unique universal and particular contributions to humanity and to our Jewish community, continue to exist and thrive. Over half of humanity regards the values of Torah as the foundation stones of civilization. Our Jewishly educated children become the guardians of that civilization. More importantly, their Jewish educations allow them to create anew in every generation innovative pathways to maintain the relevance of those values, and to continue enriching the civic and spiritual life of the great American experiment in democracy. And, of course, Jewish education makes it possible for Jewish youth to experience a lifetime of joy, of blessing, of connection, of community, of righteous deeds, of support for Israel, and of creation of Jewish homes where future Jewish children develop roots, culture, and vision for lives of meaning and purpose. 

To be a Builder of Jewish education is to be among those who hold in their minds, hearts, souls, and actions the value of Jewish education. It is one who develops visions, structures, effective pedagogies, and powerful contexts and cultures in which children learn, thrive and are inspired to make contributions of meaning and purpose to our world.

To be a Builder of Jewish education demands a vision of the "why" of Jewish education; it demands endless energy, joy, and passion for children and for Judaism; it demands educators who can inspire their students, their boards, their faculties, their colleagues, and the parents toward embracing the value of Jewish education; and it demands deep knowledge and skills that enable the transmission of Jewish education now, and throughout the generations. In the time of Covid, and at all times, Mark Shpall, the faculty, and the board of de Toledo High School are the guardians of this great Jewish educational enterprise.

de Toledo chose to set the 20-21 school year theme of Pivot, knowing that waves of change were coming and that staying flexible was not only necessary but an opportunity to show that a school that makes its decisions based on values could maintain its compass even during unprecedented times. When a dancer or athlete pivots, he/she turns, sees things from different angles, and choices multiply. Like most value driven choices, dTHS took a 360-degree perspective on the shifting needs of our educational community. Everything from financial aid, facilities, schedules and new approaches to the social and emotional well-being of students learning in an online environment was affected. Throughout dTHS has engaged its stakeholders with transparency and constant communication. The school’s motto of ‘building community for me and you - one mind at a time’ has proven its wisdom. By caring for each unique soul connected to dTHS we’ve been able to bring the community closer together - despite having to stay apart.

Mark Shpall is being recognized at BJE's Out of the Box Gala on February 5, 2021, along with other educational leaders throughout Los Angeles. For more information about who is being recognized and how to participate, please go to

To learn more about de Toledo High School and be redirected to their website, click here