Rochelle Zell Jewish High School began with a dream: a new high school that would weave the very best of the humanities, sciences, fine arts and Jewish studies together. This dream would be a place where students could continue their Jewish education during the years that have the greatest impact on Jewish identity.
In 2001—with spiritual and philanthropic support from the Chicago Jewish community, the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education and other prominent institutions—that dream became a reality and Chicagoland Jewish High School, as we were then known, was born.
On Sunday, August 26, 2001, an inspirational dedication ceremony was held at the site of the new school: 7800 W. Lyons Road in Morton Grove, Illinois. Rabbi William H. Lebeau, Vice Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, delivered a moving address about our school’s mission: “Our dedication today is not for a building or institution. It is to those who will learn and grow into inspired adults here. It is to the preservation of our collective self-worth as a people.”
Chicagoland Jewish High School was so successful in attracting students that it quickly outgrew its original quarters in Morton Grove, IL. In September 2007, the school moved into its permanent home—a 72,000-square-foot state-of-the-art campus located on a 7.3-acre site in Deerfield. Our facility can comfortably accommodate 200 students with room for expansion in the future.
Today Rochelle Zell students benefit from an outstanding faculty that includes seasoned professionals as well as promising young educators and role models. Small class sizes ensure personal attention. The vibrant, supportive and egalitarian community makes it possible for every student to discover his or her own unique strengths and truly make a difference. In addition, Rochelle Zell students receive comprehensive and personalized college counseling services from a team of professionals with years of experience in the field.
Rochelle Zell graduates are bright and articulate young men and women who have enrolled at the nation’s leading colleges and universities. They are well-rounded and confident and possess a strong sense of values and a commitment to tikkun olam. They also have a profound sense of their identity as American Jews.
In the years since our school opened its doors to 26 students, the response from the community has been overwhelming. During the 2016-2017 school year, total enrollment reached 168 students drawn from Jewish day schools and public and private schools in 22 communities throughout the greater metropolitan area of Chicago and beyond. Rochelle Zell students represent every stream of Judaism and are affiliated with synagogues throughout the Chicagoland area.
On November 18, 2015, our school began a new chapter in the school’s 15-year history. On Sunday, May 29, 2015 at a dedication ceremony for the institution’s new name, we dedicated our school as Rochelle Zell Jewish High School in honor of the memory of Rochelle Zell z”l and the extraordinary support of the Zell Family Foundation. In her lifetime, Mrs. Zell advocated for excellence in education and for sustaining Jewish values, consistent with our mission to create a culture of academic excellence that prepares students to live as responsible and involved Jewish citizens in the modern world.
Today, Rochelle Zell Jewish High School is a model of educational excellence. The school offers students an exceptional college preparatory curriculum that includes honors and AP classes in all subject areas as well as an intensive, integrated and comprehensive Jewish studies curriculum. The dual curriculum is supplemented by strong athletic and fine arts programs and numerous extracurricular, social and leadership opportunities.
As the school continues to grow, the curriculum, athletic programs and extracurricular activities will also expand to meet the needs of the school’s diverse student body. What will not change; however, is the school’s commitment to maintaining a culture of academic excellence that inspires students to think critically and achieve their full potential while preparing them to live Judaism as responsible and involved citizens in the modern world.
"Clearly, there are the lessons that are in our textbooks, like algebra, chemistry and Spanish. But at RZJHS, we also learned essential midot, or values, such as diligence and morality, that you can’t find in a textbook."