November 21, 2018

New home for Yeshivat Ohr Chanoch

In response to a growing student body and insufficient facilities, Yeshivat Ohr Chanoch has purchased a $3 million building in Pico-Robertson. 

The Orthodox Sephardic high school, which currently shares a space with B’nai David-Judea Congregation on West Pico Boulevard, enrolls 27 students in grades eight through 12. In the spring of 2016, it will be moving to the new site at 1540 S. Robertson Blvd.

Henry Manoucheri, founder and CEO of the real estate investment firm Universe Holdings, has a son at the school and led the school’s fundraising drive, along with the school’s administration and building committee. He said he raised more than half the necessary funds.

“The facility the students are in now is subpar and old and isn’t really a setting for a school,” he said. “A brand-new, modern facility with a nice space for classrooms and a beit midrash will give the kids a good identity.”

Yeshivat Ohr Chanoch’s new location, just a short walk from the current one, will be outfitted with up-to-date technology and resources, according to Joshua Shapiro, vice principal of secular studies. There will be projectors built into the walls and ceilings, interactive white  boards and modern computer labs. 

Because there also will be a beit midrash (house of study), Shapiro said the school “will be a center for the Sephardic community.”

“It’ll be a place where there will be Shabbatons and community events. It should be a hub for the community and not just a high school. In our current building, we are not able to do that, but it’s the goal in our new one,” he said.  

Shapiro expects there will be a 20 percent increase in enrollment and that students will thrive in the space.

“We felt we could better meet the needs of the students and have a really beautiful building, which should help enrich the learning atmosphere,” he said. “It’s very important anywhere but especially in a school. The kids will feel good about the building and about coming to school.” 

Yeshivat Ohr Chanoch, which was the first Chofetz Chaim yeshiva high school on the West Coast and one of 20 in the nation, started in 2011. The schools focus on Torah subjects — such as the biblical commentator Rashi, Tosafot (medieval commentaries on the Talmud), halachah (Jewish law) and hashkafa (outlook) — and teach the students mussar (a Jewish system for personal growth), middot (values) and self-improvement. They also offer secular studies in the form of a college preparatory program. 

In terms of extracurricular activities, they take students on Shabbatonim; bring in guest rabbis and learned Torah scholars; and hold hikes, flag football games and barbecues. In the summer, they host a camp called Camp Ruach Chanoch for boys in sixth through ninth grade that features go-kart racing, trips to Six Flags, night fishing and horseback riding in Griffith Park. 

“Every boy who is there smiles and is very happy,” Manoucheri said. “The students get a lot of love and attention, and there is no negative reinforcement. The rabbis are loving and caring, and the students get a tremendous amount of attention because the student-to-staff ratio is very low.” 

Yeshivat Ohr Chanoch has seven secular studies teachers for subjects such as algebra, biology, chemistry, medieval Jewish history and physical education, as well as three rabbis who teach religious studies. There are two deans and a vice principal on the administrative side. The school was accredited this past spring by the Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges. 

Shuli Taban, the parent of a student at Yeshivat Ohr Chanoch, has high hopes for the new building. 

“I think it’s great that they will have a place to call home,” she said. “The new location will be more conducive to learning for the boys in the school. 

“It’s nice to have a place of their own. They take a lot of pride in their school as it is. Now there will be a feeling of, this is our school, these are our rabbonim [rabbis], these are our friends, and this is our building. We are not just tenants. It’ll only make the school better.”