Rabbi William Altshul
Mar 20, 2014
Rabbi Altshul was born in Baltimore, Maryland and attended the Talmudical Academy of Baltimore for both his primary and secondary education, graduating in 1967. He went on to study at Yeshiva University where he took degrees in both English Literature and Jewish Education and received his rabbinic ordination, studying under Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein and the late Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. He spent his junior year at the Bnei Akiva Scholarship Institute in Israel, and was an active member of the Bnei Akiva Youth Movement for many years.
He began his full time career in Jewish education in 1974 at the Maimonides School in Brookline, Massachusetts. In 1979, he joined the staff of the Vancouver Talmud Torah which, at the time, was the only Jewish day school in British Columbia, Canada, and soon after became its principal. Under his tutelage, the school received its advanced accreditation from the Provincial Ministry of Education. In 1983, he accepted an offer to become the Headmaster of the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington. During the eight years he spent at the Hebrew Academy, the school grew from an enrollment of 400 to 550, and firmly established its secondary division. It received State Certification for its unique Special Educational programs, and achieved national prominence in 1987 when it received the U.S. Department of Education's Award for Excellence.
He was a member of the Executive Board of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, 1985-91, Chairman of its Holocaust Committee from 1986 to 1988, Vice-chairman of the Soviet Jewry Committee, and Chairman of the Israel Commission in 1990-91. He visited the Soviet Union and taught refuseniks on behalf of the Council in November 1985. He was a founding member and rabbinic advisor of the Kemp Mill Synagogue.
In August 1991, he immigrated to Australia to accept the call of Mount Scopus Memorial College to become its fifth principal. Mt. Scopus is Melbourne's largest Jewish Day School with over 2000 students and is acknowledged as one of the leading schools of its kind in the world. He helped found Kehillat Bet Aharon and was a widely sought after speaker and lecturer. During his tenure at Mt. Scopus, Judaic Studies programs were introduced and expanded, divisional campuses consolidated, budgetary reforms initiated, and major personnel changes were effected. He engaged in regular educational consultations on behalf of Mount Scopus College at the Melton Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He co-chaired the Biennial Conference of the Association of Principals of Jewish Day Schools of Australasia in May 1994.
In January 1997, Rabbi William Altshul became principal of the Joel Braverman High School of the Yeshivah of Flatbush in Brooklyn, New York. During the years of his principalship, he instituted major administrative changes and new initiatives were undertaken in technology and professional development. In the summer of 1999, he was chosen by the Avi Chai Foundation to participate in the Summer Institute of the Principals’ Center of the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, MA.
Rabbi Altshul also served as an Adjunct Instructor of Jewish Education at Stern College and at the Azrieli Graduate School of Education of Yeshiva University, where he served as a Mentor in the Intensive Training Program for Jewish Day School Administrators, sponsored by the Avi Chai Foundation. In 2001, he returned to Maryland to become the Headmaster of the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, MD. In 2003, he was awarded the Bernard Revel Memorial Award in Religion and Religious Education by the Yeshiva College Alumni Association.
In August 2006 Rabbi Altshul and his wife Sharon made aliyah to Israel and settled in Jerusalem. He served as the Director of the Ludwig and Erica Jesselson Institute of Advanced Jewish Studies at Bar Ilan University from 2007-2014. He currently does educational consulting and academic translation, and is active in Tzohar's Marriage Initiative.