For Prizmah board member Laurie Hasten and her husband, Bernard, the Jewish future depends on strong Jewish day schools. “Day schools ensure Jewish continuity through education; our schools enable children to connect to their heritage, love Israel, and understand their responsibility to the Jewish community,” she said. As a day school graduate herself, Laurie appreciates the value her parents placed on Jewish day schools and the example they set for her own leadership. “Both mine and my husband’s families were very involved in Jewish education,” she said. “As the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, I knew my whole life the importance of Jewish education and community.”
Especially at times of communal crisis such as now, being part of a responsive community is a core value of Jewish day schools. Even after her “five years of a two-year term” as board chair of Hillel Torah day school in Skokie, IL, and with a granddaughter now in kindergarten at the school Laurie maintains a deep relationship with the school. “My kids have graduated, but I haven’t yet!” she admitted. “Hillel Torah is still my favorite place to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut, and I go back every year to daven with the kids.”
Laurie has been called a “model lay leader,” developing close relationships with the head of school and leading from within. As Prizmah was established and grew in its influence, Laurie witnessed and experienced just how valuable it became to school professional and lay leaders. “Prizmah’s bandwidth and both the quantity and quality of resources are appreciated deeply by schools, all of which are facing complex challenges. When I was invited to join the board two years ago, it was a true honor,” she said.
“What day schools provide to children and families—a sense of connection at their own level—is similar to what Prizmah provides the field,” said Laurie. “Prizmah meets schools where they are and advocates for the impact all schools are targeting: a strong and vibrant Jewish future.”