Working as a consultant five years ago, Kiderman received an unexpected email from a philanthropist friend of his family who lives in New Rochelle.
The philanthropist, who ran a hedge fund, was concerned about the rising price of Jewish day school tuition — a concern that Kiderman shared. They met. The next day the philanthropist told Kiderman he wanted to start a best-practices organization that would employ technological innovations to help schools keep tuition low. “Would you be interested in running it?” he asked.
Kiderman, a product of day schools who had received financial aid, wanted other students to be able to attend day schools.
He accepted the offer.
The new organization — Affordable Jewish Education Project — initially funded a start-up Jewish school in New Jersey’s Bergen County, and now has a role in two other local day schools: a day school it helped found in Westchester, and the 60-year-old Hebrew Academy of Long Beach.
In each venue, AJEP helps coordinate an educational model that combines extensive use of software (reducing the overhead of large teaching staffs) and one-on-one or small group learning sessions (which individualizes children’s education and cuts discipline problems). “It’s a practical model.”
While the tuition at extant HALB has not dropped appreciably from its pre-AJEP levels, the tuition at the new New Jersey and Westchester schools is about half of that at established day schools in their areas, Kiderman says.
He and his wife have a 2-year-old son. They have no doubt where he will attend day school. “I’ll send him to one of my [AJEP] schools.”
Student of piano: With a musical talent that was evident by pre-school, Kiderman started piano lessons at 5. “I was both good, and I worked very hard.” Eventually, he became a familiar figure at school events and Salute to Israel parades. While a Ramaz student, he played at a White House Chanukah party, and at a concert in Carnegie Hall. Today, “it’s a hobby.” He plays “simchas from time to time.” … and of Talmud: He spent his gap year at Yeshivat Har Etzion, a hesder institution at Alon Shvut on the West Bank. Kiderman established a close relationship with the yeshiva’s mashgiach (spiritual counselor), who stressed his student’s responsibility to serve the Jewish people. “He pushed me.”