HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal

From the Desk of Arnee Winshall, RAVSAK Chair

by Arnee Winshall Issue: The Whole Student

How many of you walk through your day schools and think, “I wish I could go back to school. I would have loved this environment: the hands-on learning, the singing in English and Hebrew, the community, the holiday celebrations, the art, the soccer games, the Israeli dancing, the projects, the field trips, being in an environment where I am valued, even celebrated, where I make lifelong friends”?

I recently spent a day at JCDS in Boston walking the halls with a film crew from Israel. The students were so curious and excited; they were proud and eager to talk to the visitors about what they were doing. The halls were filled with laughter and the classrooms were humming with the sounds of kids busily engaged. The visitors said exactly this to each other: “Doesn’t this make you wish you could go back to school again?”

What unites all of us in this holy work to ensure that our day schools thrive and succeed? It is the children, the students. We may disagree about how to do certain things, but when we get down to it we find ourselves nodding in unison, agreeing on the what. We all want to support the students in our communities, in our schools to become, as one JCDS alum said, “the best version of myself.”

But as Jewish community day schools, our focus goes beyond the individual. We know that the ultimate success of our schools, of our whole educational endeavor is to engage all of our constituents in being students. When school leaders join the SuLaM program, they become students. When a board member or head of school shares a dvar Torah at a board meeting, all those who are present engage in learning. When professional development opportunities are made available, staff engage in teaching and learning. And when we invite our parents into the classrooms or to adult study, they become students as well.

As part of our RAVSAK in-person board meetings, one of the most wonderful opportunities we have is to study text together, to reflect on our work in light of text and to benefit from the teaching and learning from each other that this time together affords us.

Our success as an organization, as a network and as a field is linked to the opportunities we have to be students, as we endeavor to promote the joy of lifelong learning.

At a time when Israel is facing constant bombardment, and when many of our staff, families and schools have undergone hardship brought on by Hurricane Sandy, we come together as a community to offer our prayers for the State and people of Israel and to wish everyone good health, peace of mind and the strength to rebuild those aspects of your lives that have been disrupted or even destroyed.  

As the Festival of Lights draws near, may each of us be blessed with the opportunity to shep nachas from seeing the spark of learning kindled in each of our children, and to rededicate ourselves and be renewed through the experience each of us has continuing to be students.

Wishing you all a Happy Hanukkah—חג אורים שמח!


Arnee Winshall is 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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Students are our reason for being. Judaism includes the instruction to teach one’s children in a prayer recited twice......


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The Whole Student

One way that day schools stand out is the attention they can provide to each and every student, as expressed in the classic line from Proverbs, “Educate the youth according to his or her path.” Authors here offer numerous ways for schools to address the multi-faceted student to ensure that s/he is nurtured academically, spiritually, creatively and socially. 

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