HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal

Strengthening Community

Strengthening Community

What do we mean when we call our schools a “community”? How does the Jewish diversity that typifies community day schools coalesce into its own community? What happens when the various communities that exist both outside and within the school come into conflict? Discover ways of understanding and strengthening the community of your school and its position within the larger surrounding communities.


by RAVSAK Staff Oct 21, 2010

This column features books, articles and websites, recommended by our authors and people from the RAVSAK network, pertaining to the theme of the current issue of HaYidion for readers who want to investigate the topic in greater depth.

School and Shul—Conflict or Synergy?

by David Prashker Oct 21, 2010

Karen Bloom (the name’s made up but the story’s real) gave up going to synagogue the day after her brother’s bar mitzvah—she was eleven at the time. Mom and dad had done their duty by their son, a girl doesn’t need a bat mitzvah, and in the retail trade in a predominantly non-Jewish neighborhood, who can afford to close the store on Shabbat or High Holy days?

From the Desk of Arnee Winshall, RAVSAK Chair

by Arnee Winshall Oct 21, 2010

Shalom Chaverim, As we enter the High Holiday period—ימים נוראים—what better topic for RAVSAK, The Jewish COMMUNITY Day School Network, than that of “strengthening community.” Many of us will spend hours and days together in our synagogues, spiritual communities, and homes reflecting, praying, learning, catching up with friends and being with family. This is one of the times when we most appreciate being part of a community, a Jewish community, and when, if we are not connected to one, we most miss it.

From the Editor

by Barbara Davis Oct 21, 2010

"Community” is the theme of this issue—but what does this word mean? Fifty years ago, sociologist George Hillery listed 94 elucidations of the term in his article “Definitions of Community: Areas of Agreement.” A similar listing in 5771 would be even longer and would arguably find fewer areas of agreement, as a search of the web turns up definitions as disparate as “community begins, but does not end, in our face to face relationships with the persons who are closest to us” and “a community is a group of two or more people who have been able to accept and transcend their differences regardless of the diversity of their backgrounds (social, spiritual, educational, ethnic, economic, political, etc.).”

Youth Philanthropy Tightens Bonds Within School and Beyond

by Barbie Prince Oct 21, 2010

As Jews, we have a long history of taking care of others. What we don’t have is a mechanism to teach our students how to be philanthropists in order to sustain the culture of giving. Students need to learn how to choose which organizations to support, how to ask others to join them in supporting organizations and how to raise money effectively. Project ROPE (Roots of Philanthropic Education) is an excellent educational vehicle through which our students can grow in philanthropic knowledge and implementation.

Learning by Giving: Jewish Teen Philanthropy

by Stefanie Zelkind Oct 21, 2010

Jewish teen philanthropy takes many forms, from dropping coins in a tzedakah box to schoolwide mitzvah days, from bnei mitzvah service projects to youth group dance-a-thons, and from individual giving accounts to giving circles. Yet all have something in common—they all are built upon a traditional Jewish mandate to give and a desire by young people to help others. Most philanthropy programs focus on fundraising; this article will focus on Jewish teen foundations, a relatively new programmatic model that focuses on grantmaking, or giving away funds in an intentional and strategic manner.

Building a Strong Relationship with Local Rabbis

by Allison B. Oakes Oct 21, 2010

The Eleanor Kolitz Academy (EKA) is the only Jewish day school in San Antonio. As such, our mission is to serve the entire Jewish community; for the benefit of the school and the community, we cannot afford to do anything less. However, carrying out this mission is not easy, nor has the school always been wholly successful. Like many schools in small Jewish communities, our large mandate has bumped against the realities of denominational politics and school culture. Working closely with all of the local rabbis, we have developed a new strategy designed to meet the needs of the different factions in our community. Our hope is that the new regime will strike the right balance between advancing the religious pathways of our diverse student body while preserving the sense of unity, of klal Yisrael, so central to our mission.

Obstacles and Opportunities for Collaboration within a Jewish Community

by Bob Greenberg Oct 21, 2010

"Necessity is the mother of invention,” the adage says. An equally strong case can be made that “necessity is the mother of collaboration.” But just as transformative invention depends on the cultural characteristics of an historical time period, in which individuals and society are prepared to accept change and embrace something new, collaboration requires an institutional culture that is open to the opportunities and risks of partnership.

Making a Community Board Work for a Community School

by Gale Osborne Oct 21, 2010
RELATED TOPICS: CommunityBoard Governance

It has been twelve years since Charlotte Jewish Day School became a community school servicing children in grades K-5. This was the result of a herculean effort on the part of the community and a very successful Chabad Day School. After an exhaustive study by the Federation, which included a demographic study, the Chabad school transitioned to become a “community school.” The new school was to operate under a community board of directors, receive Federation funds and relocate to a new facility on the JCC campus. (It had previously served children from all Jewish denominations but received no community funding.) One of the first challenges was to build a “community board” to direct the school and help foster acceptance in the community.

Securing the Jewish Present

by Shaul Kelner Oct 21, 2010
RELATED TOPICS: Small SchoolsCommunity

Chadesh yameinu kekedem. “Renew our days like those of yore.” Sung plaintively as the Torah scrolls are returned to the ark, this appeal captures one particular Jewish orientation to time. We venerate ancient days and hold forth their image as a model for a messianic era yet to come. From this perspective the present seems of little significance in its own right. It is simply a mile marker on the road from the past we lost to the future we strive to reach.