HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal

From the Desk of Arnee Winshall, RAVSAK Chair

by Arnee Winshall Issue: Special Needs
As the North American Jewish Day School Conference in LA came to a close, I found myself not only re-energized by the incredible sessions I attended, the people I met, and the sense of community that pervaded, but also reflective, thinking about the past year. It is hard to believe that just over a year ago, RAVSAK underwent a transition in governance and I assumed the board chair position with four other founding board members.

With every new undertaking, the current board of RAVSAK has the opportunity to appreciate the strong foundation built by the professionals who lead our schools and who shouldered the responsibility of leadership for RAVSAK over the past quarter century. Traveling the country this past year and visiting day schools, I am struck by the impact that RAVSAK has had on so many schools, an impact for which many of the school leaders, both lay and professional, have expressed tremendous appreciation.

In fact, it is as a result of this goodwill and true contribution to the growth and development of individual schools by a small but dedicated and powerful RAVSAK team that we have been able to attract remarkable talent to the RAVSAK board. Since its founding last January we have welcomed an additional five board members from schools across the country. The caliber of leadership that comprises the RAVSAK board at this time and the level of commitment are extraordinary. Since the last issue of HaYidion, Lisa Breslau (past board chair of Shalom School in Sacramento), Stacey Fisher (past chair of Rockwern Academy in Cincinnati) and Matt Heilicher (current board president of Amos and Celia Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School) have joined our ranks and are already having an impact on our thinking and work. In fact, the conference enabled us to spend half a day meeting in person to take stock of our progress, plan our next steps and work with development consultants in developing the case for RAVSAK and honing our skills in raising the financial support that will help to ensure RAVSAK’s continued success.

The conference exceeded all expectations with approximately 600 attendees joining us from around the world. Just as this issue is dedicated to how we provide those students with special needs the attention they deserve, the RAVSAK staff (in collaboration with those from the PARDeS and Solomon Schechter day school networks and the University-School Partnership of Yeshiva University) led the way to ensure that the needs of each school and each attendee to the conference were being met. This is Jewish education at its finest, collaborating to meet the needs of the communities we serve.

Over this year, the respect and awe I have for RAVSAK staff, board members and school leaders continues to grow exponentially. They are exemplars of the Jewish community’s finest and demonstrate their dedication to ensuring the continued value and strength of our network of outstanding schools every day.

It is a privilege to serve with and to learn from all of you.


Arnee Winshall ♦

Arnee Winshall is the Chair of RAVSAK’s Board of Directors, and Founding Chair of JCDS, Boston's Jewish Community Day School. Arnee can be reached at arnee@ravsak.org.

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Special Needs

Schools increasingly need to be aware of a growing range of conditions and challenges that students confront. These challenges present school leaders with numerous considerations at various levels: funding, admissions, staffing, curriculum, health care and more. This pioneering issue serves as a roadmap for leaders as they navigate this complex terrain.

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