Heilicher Receives $1.4 Million Gift for Judaic Studies Program

The Amos and Celia Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School proudly announces a $1.4 million charitable gift to the school from Rabbi Mitchell Smith in honor of his parents, Harold and Mickey (z”l) Smith. 

This is the second major gift to Heilicher by Rabbi Smith this year. The current gift is an augmentation of a $1.1 million donation that Rabbi Smith gave to the school in January to create the Harold and Mickey Smith Judaic Studies Endowment Fund to support the school’s Judaic Studies program in perpetuity. In addition to the endowment, the new gift also provides yearly operating support for Judaic Studies.

In recognition of Rabbi Smith’s extraordinary $2.5 million commitment, the Judaic Studies Department at the school will be renamed the Harold and Mickey Smith Judaic Studies Department.

“It is so fitting for the Jewish Studies Department at Heilicher to be named for our parents, as over their lifetime they have been among the staunchest advocates for Jewish education in the Twin Cities,” said Rabbi Smith. “They always felt that Jewish education is the surest guarantor of meaningful survival of the Jewish people in a free society. In particular, my father’s belief in the critical need of Jewish institutions to adapt to the future while rooted in the past is embodied in his own life, spanning the days of his heder education on St. Paul’s West Side to the application of modern technology to teach and transmit those same values as they best relate to our own day. We are pleased to see our parents’ legacy and their vision secured in this gift.”

“It is a great honor to receive this extraordinary gift from the Smith family in support of Judaic Studies and to rename this central pillar of our educational program for Mickey and Harold,” said Yoni Binus, Head of School. “Their vision and unwavering support strengthens our vital work to prepare Jewish young people to become lifelong learners, critical thinkers, and mensches.”

L to R: Heilicher Head of School Yoni Binus, Rabbi Mitchell Smith, and Harold Smith (seated)

L to R: Heilicher Head of School Yoni Binus, Rabbi Mitchell Smith, and Harold Smith (seated)

“This gift strengthens the core mission and values of Heilicher,” added Wendy Lovell-Smith (no relation to the Rabbi Mitch Smith family), President of the Heilicher Board of Trustees. “It is such a meaningful tribute by Rabbi Smith to his parents, honoring their lifelong commitment to Jewish education.”

Heilicher has secured more than $4.3 million to date for its $8.5 million endowment campaign, entitled “As They Planted for Me.” Community support through endowments will keep Heilicher education strong, vibrant, and accessible now and into the future.  

About the Smith Family

Harold Smith is a long-time community leader and philanthropist who, with his late wife Mickey, has been a staunch supporter of many causes and organizations in the Twin Cities and beyond, including Herzl Camp, Beth Jacob Congregation, the Talmud Torah of St. Paul, the Harold and Mickey Smith Gallery of Jewish Art and Culture at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Harold and Mickey Smith Enhancement Center at Hadassah Medical Center, and Heilicher

Rabbi Mitchell Smith, Harold and Mickey’s son, is an ordained rabbi, author, and consultant who has held many positions of distinction both in Israel and the United States. He holds advanced degrees in counseling and educational psychology with a specialty in sports psychology and exercise science. He currently resides in Delray Beach, Florida.

About the Amos and Celia Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School

Founded in 1984, the Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School provides academic excellence in K-8 elevated by a deep commitment to Jewish core values. The school nurtures students to become lifelong learners, leaders, critical thinkers, and mensches (good people). Heilicher supports students as they strengthen their academic knowledge and develop their Jewish identities. Heilicher graduates enter the world with the curiosity, critical and ethical decision-making skills, and global competency to succeed in their future endeavors. Heilicher is currently accepting applications for the 2020/21 school year at www.hmjds.org.