Lauren is the director of admissions and enrollment management at Pardes Jewish Day school in Phoenix Arizona. 

Amy is the outreach and engagement manager at The Davis Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Jessie is the director of admissions at Jewish Community Day School of Greater New Orleans in New Orleans, Louisiana

Engage: Creating Partnerships for School Success

Phoenix: Playing Together 

Lauren Kreisberger, Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management, Pardes Jewish Day School 

Pardes Jewish Day School and PJ Library Phoenix received a very generous gift from Prizmah’s Engage program, allowing us to create authentic relationships and partnerships to enhance community engagement. The aim was to foster greater involvement and interaction within the community. This involved not only the students, faculty and staff but also broader relationships and collaborations. 

We had the opportunity to partner with a diverse range of organizations, such as the Center for Jewish Philanthropy, Arizona Science Center, Bureau of Jewish Education, Jewish Free Loan, and community clergy, among others. These collaborations allowed us to pool resources and expertise and maximize our collective impact. Why spread the community thin with four separate events, by four different organizations with the same goal, when we can have one larger, well-planned one? 

The collaborative efforts had a positive impact on recruitment and retention efforts and contributed to the growth and, hopefully, the sustainability of our organizations. Our emphasis on community building, Jewish traditions and values, from preschool through young teen programming, demonstrated a dedication to inclusivity and ensuring that our community members of all ages felt welcome and engaged. “Havdalah Under the Stars” and “The Rabbi Slurps Spaghetti” events are great examples of innovative and fun ways to bring people together. 

This attracted new families to campus that may not have otherwise come. These events provided an opportunity for newcomers to see our beautiful campus, meet our amazing teachers, interact with our outstanding student ambassadors and learn about our educational philosophy, all while experiencing the warmth of our community. 

We really feel we have started something that is contagious in our community and we look forward to seeing where it takes us next. “Those that play together, stay together!”

Atlanta: Kehillah 

Amy Helman- Darley, Outreach and Engagement Manager, The Davis Academy 

In my work for Nurture, our school’s program that engages, connects, and supports families with young children throughout the greater Atlanta community, one of the first words that comes to mind when thinking about partnerships is kehillah. Kehillah, a term rooted in the Hebrew word for community, beautifully encapsulates the essence of unity, mutual support, and collective responsibility. Its wisdom can breathe life into our partnerships with other organizations, infusing them with deeper meaning and purpose. 

For the last year, Pam Cohen, PJ Library Atlanta Manager, and I have been working together to strengthen the Atlanta Jewish community through monthly programs showcasing the value of kehillah. The support of Prizmah through Engage allowed us to strengthen our partnership and develop more community-focused programming.  

PJ Library and Nurture are two initiatives that share similar values and missions that support and engage families with young children in the Atlanta Jewish community. We understand that families are looking for opportunities to connect with others in a similar age and stage, and together, we are offering programs to support them through fun, meaningful, and Jewish-themed experiences. 

Our Li’l Shabbat: Hanukkah Around the World is a signature program that highlights the diversity of the Jewish community in a welcoming environment. During this program, families participate in a preschool-aged Shabbat service, and then they “tour the world” by visiting different tables hosted by Davis Academy and PJ Library families who immigrated to the United States from different countries. Each host family shares special Hanukkah traditions that are unique to their homeland. Building on the success of this program last year, we are excited to expand and engage even more families this upcoming Hanukkah.

By working together, we can build on the strengths of each organization and combine them to bring high quality programming to the community.  In the spirit of kehillah, we truly are stronger when working together.

Davis Academy PJ Library

New Orleans: Community-wide Programming 

Jessie Dowsakul, Director of Admissions, Jewish Community Day School of Greater New Orleans 

A community is strengthened by its differences and brought together by a common goal. To that end, our school and PJ Library have partnered in creating inclusive, dynamic programming. Coming out of the grips of the pandemic, our population has been eager to rejoice together. Our school’s partnership with Prizmah has awarded us with opportunities to reach out to synagogues, Jewish Federation, PJ Library, JNola (Federation’s young adult group), Jewish Community Centers, and much more. By creating and fostering friendships with these organizations, we have been able to collaborate in creating dynamic programming aimed at the inclusion of all.

Our annual Family Fun Fest puts these relationships on full display. This is our biggest event of the year, and its success is contingent upon collaboration with community partners. When we chose to expand our collaboration and invite the wider Jewish population, some challenges surfaced.

One of these challenges was adhering to a level of kashrut that would be more inclusive; while the school lunches come from a Chabad-supervised kitchen, food brought in for events has typically been held to the standard of Orthodox supervision, which would exclude the many Chabad families in our community. This entailed staff learning more about what that heightened level of kashrut would look like as we sought to host events that truly included everybody.

New Orleans’s PJ Library’s local representative, Bonnie Lustig, meets with us monthly. In our meetings, we strategize the planning of our upcoming community events as we work creatively and innovatively to create fun, engaging programs. Moving forward, Bonnie and the school have created a friendship of collaboration that will hold well beyond our current work. We have every expectation that Jewish Community Day School will continue to create community-driven collaborations. We hope you can join us at our next event: a Shabbat challah making party.