HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal
From the CEO: Building the Field of Jewish Day Schools Together
In the telling and retelling of the building of the Mishkan through the book of Shmot, there is much to learn about how Bnei Yisrael succeeded in this great endeavor, amidst so much detail about the architecture and contents. Hashem says that “every man whose heart makes him willing” is to be part of the work. Later, “Moshe called the whole community of the children of Israel to assemble” to convey the mitzvot, asking “every wise-hearted person among you [to] come and make everything that Hashem commanded.” The parsha emphasizes how every man and woman who was motivated came to help. And the entire community witnessed and supported their efforts.
The message of Bnei Yisrael’s vital building task in the wilderness is that they were stronger together. Building the Mishkan was not the work of a few individuals or a select group; neither do different tribes or other sections of the community separate from the common goal.
Today, our day schools lie at the heart of the Jewish community. To best serve them, five organizations each with a powerful legacy—PARDES, PEJE, RAVSAK, Schechter and YUSP—are coming together. Our goal in unifying through Prizmah is to provide the programs and services, knowledge and resources that enable communities and schools to thrive. We will aim to address their needs in governance and development, teaching and learning, leadership development and placement, 21st century learning, fieldwide data and research, and broader support.
Not only do we believe in the opportunity that comes through unity of these five organizations, but in the power of peer-to-peer learning among school leaders, addressing their common challenges together. The North American Jewish Day School Conference, taking place on February 5-7, 2017, in Chicago, is the largest day school gathering, a chance to learn with colleagues and peers. And throughout the year, Prizmah will provide the networking opportunities and convenings that aim to help school professional and lay leaders to find the answers to their burning questions, from colleagues right across the spectrum of Jewish day schools, with the help of the Prizmah team.
Prizmah’s focus is on achieving educational excellence and financial vitality among all Jewish day schools. The evidence points to the vital role of strong Jewish day schools in fostering a vibrant Jewish future. We will raise the profile and understanding of that impact among community leaders locally and nationally who can and should enable schools to succeed.
Prizmah’s goal is to understand and serve the individual needs of schools—meeting schools where they are at, helping them reach the milestones that are right for them.
I feel honored to be able to serve in the founding team of Prizmah. I am the product of an amazing Jewish day school. Along with my family, I appreciate the way that my day school experience shaped my life. I am the proud parent of day school children and, like all of us, feel the power of Jewish day schools in my blood.
We are now at the start of a new chapter in strengthening Jewish day schools and the day school movement. I hope to connect with you at the North American Jewish Day School Conference, if not before, and encourage all to become members of Prizmah and get involved with us in shaping the future of Jewish education. We are stronger, together.
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Dear friends, I am delighted to be writing to you in this space as the founding board......
Prizmah represents a collaboration of colleagues from five legacy organizations, so collaboration is a natural theme for this first Prizmah issue of HaYidion. Articles demonstrate an eagerness to embrace new educational paradigms, to rethink the foundations of day school education, to dream big and do the patient work to follow through. The writers here evince several principles in action: a willingness to take risks; acknowledging and defying challenges; thinking holistically/globally; and connecting or smashing silos.
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