Lisa Popik Coll, Prizmah’s new board chair, knew from her first date with her husband, Arieh Coll, that if things worked out, she’d be sending her children to Jewish day school. “While I grew up in a very Jewishly identified community and loved my summers at camp, Arieh made the case that in day schools, Jewish life thrives year-round,” she said.
Coll understood what this really meant when her oldest child was in fifth grade at Solomon Schechter of Greater Boston and parents were invited to tefillah where their children chanted from the Torah for the first time. Eighth graders in the room next door were tapped to help make a minyan so kaddish could be recited. “Without any typical adolescent eye-rolling, they came into the room,” said Coll. “You could literally see everything come together in that moment—the values the school had instilled, the sense of community, Jewish literacy, and the idea that each student in the school was truly a link in the great chain of our tradition,” said Coll.
Her path to day school lay leadership took off when she was invited in 1997 to a meeting for the new Jewish high school (now Gann Academy) that had just opened on the campus of Brandeis. “What struck me was that almost none of the people there had kids who would benefit from this new school. Their kids were mostly beyond high school age,” she said. “It was like the midrash come to life about Honi planting carob seeds for the next generation.” With her children still in grade school, Coll recognized that it was her opportunity to step up and take on a lay leadership role—and she hasn’t stopped since.
Coll’s leadership is powered by a passion for taking advantage of new opportunities to get involved, and she is the quintessential networker. “Through Boston-area day school advocacy and collaboration efforts, like the recently launched Stronger Together initiative, and meeting donors from across North America at Prizmah’s Investor Summits, I have found that sharing what works makes all the difference,” said Coll. As Prizmah’s chair, Coll is excited to leverage the opportunities for school leaders to continue learning from each other.
“Whether we are addressing affordability, tackling the educators pipeline, or strengthening leadership, it all starts when we share what is working in a particular school or community,” said Coll. Prizmah, for Coll, has the sacred responsibility to make sure that happens. “You will never come away more inspired about the future of the Jewish people than at a Prizmah gathering.