Our History

Reform Beginnings

The Leo Baeck Day School was founded in 1974 as a Reform Jewish day school that would provide a modern alternative to the more traditional day school options in the Toronto Jewish community. Our very first home was in the basement of Temple Emanu-El. While we have inhabited various facilities throughout the decades as our school has grown, we’ve remained true to our founding belief in child-centred pedagogy and progressive Jewish values.

In Search of Innovation

The spirit of innovation led us to seek authorization as an International Baccalaureate World School in 2010. The global outlook of the IB program pairs powerfully with our own Reform Jewish lens, providing our students with a rich and dynamic learning environment that emphasizes critical thinking, social consciousness and self-reflection.

In 2016 we underwent the rigorous process of accreditation as a Canadian Accredited Independent School (CAIS). The CAIS seal denotes our commitment to going above and beyond in delivering an effective and impactful education by evaluating every aspect of our school’s operations.

Looking Ahead

2017 ushers in a new and exciting era of growth for our school.

In response to demographic shifts in the Toronto Jewish community, our North Campus is relocating to a beautiful new home within the centre for Jewish life in York region.

At the same time, with the publication of our 2017 Strategic Plan, we renew our organization’s vision and identify the top priorities for our school over the next five years.

Looking Back:

Who Was Rabbi Leo Baeck?

The namesake of our school, Rabbi Leo Baeck, was one of the outstanding German-Jewish scholars of the 20th Century and a leader of Progressive Judaism.

Leo Baeck (1873-1956) was an historian of religion, and a philosopher, as well as a rabbi. He published numerous articles in the leading German-Jewish journals of his time. His most famous work, Wesen des Judentums (Essence of Judaism), was published in 1905 and went through many editions in different languages.

When the Nazis seized power in Germany in 1933, Baeck devoted himself to defending the Jewish community. As president of the representative body of Jews in Germany, he was given many opportunities to escape. He refused, insisting that he would stay so long as there was a minyan in Germany. In 1943 he was sent to the Terezin (Terezienstadt) concentration camp. He survived the horrors by helping others, teaching, and refusing to lose his sense of self or dignity. His philosophical beliefs were not swayed by the Holocaust. He always maintained that evil was the result of humans using their free will to not do the ethical.

Surviving the Holocaust, Baeck moved to London and eventually became Chairman of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.