From the Board: B'Yachad: Together Toward a Vibrant Jewish Future

The starting point of the Prizmah strategic plan, titled “B’Yachad, Together: Towards a Vibrant Future for Jewish Day Schools,” is, in some ways, the same as its aspiration: Nothing is more important than putting day schools and the day school field on a solid trajectory over the coming decades.

All of us who worked on the plan, all of the hundreds of people who completed surveys, sat in interviews or contributed to focus groups, shared the same basic belief that Jewish day schools are a critical element for ensuring a thriving Jewish future. In the words of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, “The Mesopotamians built ziggurats. The Egyptians built pyramids. The Greeks built the Parthenon. The Romans built the Colosseum. Jews built schools. That’s why we’re still here, still strong, and still young while all those super powers in their day have been consigned to history.”

When Prizmah’s board embarked on the planning process, we knew that our relatively new organization needed its own plan, a roadmap for making the impact for which we were formed. We also suspected that this plan would serve the day school field’s needs in a deeply existential way.

By identifying and studying the many talents, resources, ideas and partnerships currently powering the diverse day school field, we came to three conclusions that informed the structure of the emerging plan:

1) There is incredible achievement and progress taking place in day schools. Dynamic leaders and innovative approaches are prevalent. At the same time, there are sobering needs across nearly every school and community.

2) The day school field is complicated and complex—geographically, financially, denominationally, pedagogically, communally. As a national organization, Prizmah must carefully develop broad solutions for different constituents and respect the individuality of each school and community.

3) The passion we feel for day schools is ubiquitous (if not universal). Across North America, we are part of a large community of inspiring day school advocates who believe in our core that day schools are essential for future Jewish identity, continuity and community.

As Mem Bernstein, Chair of The AVI CHAI Foundation, recently shared with a gathering of day school investors:

By being a national funder, I was being offered the opportunity of a lifetime. I was able to make a difference on a scale I could not have imagined. I was investing in the talents of thousands of educators and leaders instead of dozens, and I met thousands of people who, like me, believe in the power of their day schools to make all the difference.

 

With these insights, with the input from hundreds of individuals, and with the goal of forging a “north star” from which to steer Prizmah’s work in the day school field, we launched our strategic plan, focusing on four priorities: deepening talent, catalyzing resources, accelerating innovation and networking to learn.

Over the coming months, Prizmah’s alignment along these four areas will result in opportunities for individual leaders, schools and communities. As the strategic plan’s title reads, B’Yachad—Together—we will collaboratively build our schools and our field toward a vibrant Jewish future.

Visit the Prizmah website at prizmah.org/who-we-are/prizmah-strategic-plan to read the full B’Yachad Strategic Plan.

Author
Ann Pava, Sam Moed
Issue
In These Times