Paula Gottesman, Prizmah board member, along with her late husband Jerry z”l, have been leading day school philanthropists for decades. She shared, “There are many ways to use your resources, but none more rewarding than nurturing a project you believe in. My husband and I were fortunate enough to be able to promote our concerns in concentrating our efforts on Jewish education, but I never expected to feel joy from seeing their success.”
Through community partnerships and the work of their foundation, Paula and Jerry have collaborated with four day schools to establish a community endowment initiative in Greater MetroWest. Their inspirational work has since become a catalyst for unprecedented cooperation and innovation when it comes to day school affordability for middle class families, and a model for other Jewish communities across North America.
Paula is simultaneously pragmatic about the immediate needs of schools and visionary about their potential. “We know that strong, successful schools can endure,” she said, even if future challenges are not yet known. “By nature, Jewish day schools are always paying attention to the next generation; they are centers of Jewish community. We need to invest today in the best teachers, heads of schools, and facilities so that these schools can thrive for years to come.”
Paula continues her support of MetroWest while also making an impact field-wide. “Donors most often give parochially to schools or other institutions in their immediate community where they feel a personal relationship.” Nearly twenty-five years ago, though, Rabbi Yitz Greenberg broadened Paula and Jerry’s vision of day school philanthropy when he asked them about joining PEJE (Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education) with other North American funders to support day school education. It was their relationship with Rabbi Greenberg that really encouraged this new partnership.
This informs the advice she offers to both solicitors and funders: “Start from a connection that matters—an interest in a particular school or cause or a personal relationship. Identify what matters to you and to those you are supporting—whether it is scholarships or security or another area of need.” She continued, “It’s such a reward to see the schools in our community thrive, and an unexpected pleasure to witness the impact of our contributions.”