Shana Tova from Prizmah!

School is back in session, and we at Prizmah are also starting the year with enthusiasm and excitement.

I am pleased to announce that Yehuda Neuberger, a Prizmah board member since the organization's launch, has been named Chair of the Prizmah Board of Directors. Yehuda’s deep involvement in and impact on the Baltimore Jewish community and day schools, along with national organizations including AIPAC and the Orthodox Union, demonstrate the incredible passion, wisdom and skill that he brings to Prizmah. Together, we will lead Prizmah towards greater fulfillment of our mission to support the Jewish day school field. 

Just a few days from now, right after we hear the blasts of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, we traditionally say aloud these words from Psalms 89:16:

אַשְׁרֵי הָעָם יֹדְעֵי תְרוּעָה   
Happy are the people that know the t’ruah

In a simple phrase, we capture so much of what we hope and pray for at this sacred time of year. We aspire for joy, not individually in this context, but on behalf of the community (“happy are the people”). And, we understand that joy, for the community, comes through knowledge (“people that know the t’ruah," not just hear it), from direct experience of the shofar blasts and all they represent.

As an organization dedicated to Jewish day school education, Prizmah embraces the idea that strong Jewish communities and strong Jewish day schools are inextricably linked. We believe deeply that knowledge does in fact lead to joy, individually, communally, and as a people. 

In support of that conviction, Prizmah is launching an initiative seeking to transform the way that the impact of day schools is appreciated, and hence day schools are valued, in the broader Jewish community. By studying day schools, their students and alumni, and their extensive impact, we are embarking on a major campaign to make a powerful case for Jewish day schools.

We know that Jewish day schools and yeshivas play a crucial role in ensuring a vibrant Jewish future; we see first-hand, for example, the disproportionate roles that alumni play in Jewish leadership.  The communal narrative does not fully appreciate this impact when talking about the challenges, so we need up-to-date, powerful data to support our cause. We must conduct a large-scale research project, measure day school education’s impact on individuals, communities, and the broader North American Jewish world. More than a research endeavor, this initiative, which will include rigorous data collection and analysis as well as gatherings to disseminate the findings in schools and communities throughout North America, can turn the tide for communal perception of Jewish day schools for years to come. Evidence-based knowledge will reveal just how important day schools are to our community’s joyful future. 

With enthusiasm for the launch of this initiative, and in the spirit of “ashrei ha’am”--“happy are the people,” I wish you a very festive Rosh Hashanah and look forward to another year of growth and extraordinary impact.

Shana Tova, 
Paul Bernstein