This summer I took my very first cruise and traveled to Alaska, where 6,000 hardy Jewish souls live among 722,000 other inhabitants. Five thousand of these Jews, who statistics reveal to be more observant than most other Jews (although there is no day school here), live in Anchorage, where there are two synagogues. I would have loved to have met some of my co-religionists, but a cruise leaves little time for self-directed exploration. Likewise on my cruise, I would have liked to meet more of my fellow Jews, but alas, I seemed to be traveling in middle America. How I longed to play Jewish geography! How hard I listened for an accent that said “big city,” and looked for a chai on a neck chain. When I finally heard some Israelis speaking Hebrew at their dinner table, I could have hugged them!
Responses to “The Torah of Relevance” in the summer issue
The Torah is an ancient book that presents great ideas in simple, accessible language. Thus the Torah invites any reader, teachers and students alike, to study its plain meaning or peshat. That’s the product we have. That’s what we’re “selling” and what we want our students to “buy.” When students are invited to dig into the text, and thereby gain mastery, matters of relevance melt away. Guided as they encounter the text, they will ask challenging questions, tease out meaning, argue with each other and eventually develop their own understandings of basic Jewish ideas.
By now I hope you all have received RAVSAK’s new business plan (of which an executive summary appears on pages 32-33), a plan that envisions investing more resources into the day school field, leveraging existing resources better, and continuing to build on successful strategies.
Mazel tov to new heads of school: Alina Gerlovin Spaulding, Akiva Community Day School (Nashville), Rabbi Allen Saks, Hillel Academy of Broome County (Vestal, NY), Amanda Pogany, Luria Academy (Brooklyn), Chaim Heller, San Diego Jewish Academy, Dr. David Finell, Rockwern Academy (Cincinnati), David Prashker, Shoshana S. Cardin School (Baltimore), Dr. Donald Zimring, Brandeis Hillel Day School (San Francisco), Einav Symons (interim), Kadimah School (Buffalo, NY), Jamie Cluchey, Levey Day School (Portland, ME), Kathryn Davis, Eleanor Kolitz Academy (San Antonio), Laila Lipetz, Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School (Toronto), Lara Samuels, JCOSS (London), Mia Severin, Akiva School (Montreal), Miri Ketayi, Jewish Community School of the Desert (Palm Desert, CA), Noah Hartman, Cohen Hillel Academy (Marblehead, MA), Pam Cohn, Friedel Jewish Academy (Omaha), Peter Greenberg, Kehilah Jewish Community Day School (Hamilton, ON), Dr. Rennie Wrubel (interim), Milken Community High School (Los Angeles), Rhona Birenbaum (interim), TanenbaumCHAT (Toronto).
The day-to-day interactions that the school leader should embrace require sensitivity, self-confidence and finesse in order to build and maintain the relationships that are essential to success. The HOS must possess the ability to communicate clearly and appropriately with all stakeholders, regardless of the circumstances. This can sometimes be a challenge, as evidenced by the questions below.
Networking represents a paradigm shift in the way that organizations are structured and get business done. Schools need to get on board, and funders increasingly expect to see change.
The author of The Networked Nonprofit describes the stages for organizations to become fully networked and some tools for measuring success in this area.
Hillel’s success at transforming its image and impact on Jewish students through its adoption of a networking model has potential for replication by day schools.
Teachers can use social media technology to create a learning environment fostering their own continual professional development.
A network can be proactive in identifying areas of common need and creating programs collaboratively to address them. This article describes an ambitious initiative.
Tell us something about yourself.
A fifth generation Israeli, I was born in Jerusalem to a family of teachers. All my siblings are either teachers or principals in Jewish day schools, so teaching is in our blood. I have taught English, math, and Jewish studies, to students ranging from 2 to 82.
Tzav Pius pioneered the use of the network to promote dialogue and advance social change in Israel. They’re now taking that model to the 2.0 level.
A leader in helping Jewish organizations adapt to social media, Darim Online suggests best practices to guide planning and practice in this new environment.
Crowdfunding is an exciting new tool that has the potential to do much more for your school than make money —though it can do that in spades.
The term “network weaver” occurs throughout this issue. This article provides a job description and suggestions for operational techniques for this newest of occupations.
As Facebook’s IPO shows, the bloom is off the rose. Everyone’s on it; most are disenchanted. Here are ideas for making the original social media tool work for schools.
Online media are generally complex and flexible tools that can be used in multifarious ways to meet your needs. Some strategic tech planning can increase success dramatically.
Networks of teachers, whether within one school or over a broader range, can foster individual growth while enriching the school community in powerful ways.
Early childhood, often overlooked within the spectrum of Jewish education, can be a critical time for building habits and dispositions to inspire families to choose day school.
It has to be bashert that I have the honor and privilege to join RAVSAK as its first Director of Institutional Advancement at precisely the same time that the AVI CHAI Foundation makes an extraordinary and historic commitment to enhancing and strengthening Jewish community day school education with a grant of $2,350,000. As the grandchild of a survivor of the horrors of Buchenwald, and first generation American Jew on my mother’s side, Jewish continuity has been at the forefront of my life both personally and professionally. From the time I spent a year in Israel as a fellow on Otzma II to the present, I find myself becoming more passionate about klal Yisrael, by blending it into the fabric of my being, by ensuring that we will have a Jewish future. Thus, there is no better way to achieve that then by working for an organization, whose “client is the Jewish Future.”
The following are some of the terms and platforms referenced in the articles in this issue.
We live in a time when our culture changes its mind in less than a generation. Our youth use the word “sick” to mean something is really great, and I just heard a researcher on public radio say he has done a three year study that shows procrastination is actually a valuable tool that enables better decision making.