“The school we want to send our children to doesn’t exist. We need to start a school!” 40 years ago a group of friends discovered their shared vision as they stood around Lori and John Ulmer’s kitchen island. Amongst that group was Shauna Tepperman, a driving force in making that vision a reality, who became Netivot’s first president. Remembering the early days, Lori recalls, “We had nothing. I went through my house and filled the classroom with toys. We all did; it was all hands on deck to get the school up and running.” From the discussion in the kitchen came a parlor meeting, then they hired a principal and the rest is history! John remembers a meeting with the founders, “It was Rabbi Diamond who suggested the name Netivot HaTorah!” John reflects on the evolution of the school: “Seeing the school stay true to its values from the beginning of Torah, Israel and Derech Eretz has been meaningful. At the same time, it’s improving year after year and it’s beyond what we could have dreamed.”
Neither Lori or John grew up in Orthodox homes and as newly married couples they met and befriended Rabbi Elliott and Rochelle Diamond. Their religious lives changed after they enjoyed a Shabbat meal at the Diamonds, and later hosted the Diamonds in their apartment in Boston. These events, and keeping a full Shabbat, were pivotal moments for Lori and John in their decision to become Orthodox.
Lori and John met at Osgoode Hall Law school. John is a senior tax partner at Davies. Lori practiced as a lawyer but decided to leave to start her family and then changed professions to become a parent educator. She taught parenting classes with Rochelle for 14 years and then gave private counseling for several years.
Lori’s deep commitment to her community was reciprocated back to her in 2017-18 as she underwent treatment and surgeries for cancer. As a breast cancer survivor, Lori shared her Hakarat HaTov for her family and the community. “Their outpouring of love and Tefillot meant so much to me and gave me strength.”
Lori and John Ulmer have 4 children, all Netivot graduates. They have 16 grandchildren; 4 live in Toronto (Greenspans) and are current Netivot students.