The Gordon School of Beth David Congregation provides an integrated Judaic and secular program of academic excellence while maintaining the nurturing environment that helped establish our reputation of creating happy learners.

It all started with loving visionaries. In 1986, Arlene Zakarin initiated a wonderful concept – Beth David would establish an early childhood center in a Jewish setting. The congregation originally envisioned a nursery school for toddlers and preschoolers. That year, 10 families enrolled their two-year-olds into the new Beth David program. At first there was no director or accreditation, just a room in a building with a concrete playground.

The following year, Janet Bass was hired as the director. In her first year, she expanded the school from one class to three – new children in classes for 18 month-olds and two year-olds, and the “pioneer children” in a class for three-year-olds.

As the school population grew, so did our need for more space; in 1989, the generosity of Norma and Sammy Gordon made possible the renovation of three additional classrooms, a new kitchen and a lunch room. The Gordon Family chose to pay tribute to Sam’s father, Robert J. Gordon. That year, the school was renamed The Gordon School of Beth David Congregation.

A day school was created in response to the request of parents and the enthusiastic support from the Beth David community. Norma Gordon contributed not just with funding, but with her time. To this day, she remains a champion of the school’s focus on meeting the unique needs of each child – emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual – to help each child develop to his or her full potential.


Registration continued to increase at an amazing rate based on the school’s reputation for providing a nurturing environment where every child can succeed.

In 2007, due to the increased need by members of the community for services specifically for children on the autism spectrum, a group of Beth David families led by former Cantor and now Rabbi Julie Jacobs, spearheaded a mission to open an additional arm of the Gordon School – a Jewish day school program for children with autism.

In 2010, the Tikvah Center opened. The program, which started with two children, has grown exponentially. The Tikvah Center is positioned for growth as the need for small-class room settings, and individualized education for students on the autism spectrum is greatly needed in Miami.