A Personal Reflection from the RAVSAK Board Chair

Rebekah Farber

I’m not sure if it’s coincidence or providence that the termination of RAVSAK as an independent entity and my tenure as board chair, as well as the graduation of my youngest child from high school, are all occurring at the same time in my life. I have been stewarding children through Jewish day schools for 26 years and working on the boards of my local schools and RAVSAK for 16 of those. So these transitions are monumental for me on many levels.


When one’s youngest graduates high school, a parent feels both optimistic and a little sad. I look forward to the opportunities an empty nest will afford my husband and me and to the sense of freedom I anticipate feeling. But I’m also melancholy at the closing of an era and the knowledge that there is no going back to the innocent years of building a family and a future.


My feelings about sending RAVSAK off to NewOrg are similar. We are moving from a singular organization serving 139 community day schools, to a large, multi-dimensional agency serving over 300 schools of many streams. I feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride for the all the work that has been done by RAVSAK’s lay and professional leadership, but I also feel a bit of sadness as our board dismantles and our staff moves on to other tasks. Change is hard. And acceptance is even harder.


Yet in reflecting on what I have learned at RAVSAK and on the values we hold dear, I feel deep confidence and optimism about the future into which we are merging. Jewish community day schools are microcosms of Jewish life. Renowned for their celebration (not just acceptance) of pluralism, they and RAVSAK are places where people of many different Jewish backgrounds work together for the common good. This must and will continue. The new organization has the remarkable opportunity to model these values on the national scale and serve as an example of how multiple approaches to Jewish life and living can coexist and strengthen each other.


RAVSAK and its constituents understand that a school with Jewish children is not the same as a Jewish school. The strength of a school is linked to the strength of its Jewish mission and how deeply it lives within the school. Thus RAVSAK has invested wisely in both the professional and Judaic development of lay and professional school leaders. This investment has had a disproportionate impact on the day school educational field and will continue to pay dividends in the future.


Perhaps most important, RAVSAK has always understood that people and relationships matter. Our schools know that when they call our offices, they will reach a professional who knows them and will do what it takes to help them thrive. Our Reshet work has enabled hundreds of new connections among lay and professional leaders, who turn to each other for guidance and information. Networking is inherent in our name, and we expect that these connections will grow stronger and broader in the future, as we transition into the new organization.


My sincerest gratitude goes to my colleagues on the RAVSAK board for their deep commitment to Jewish education and their incredibly hard work through this time of transition. The backbone of our day school community is the network of lay leaders who give their time, expertise and money to place Klal Yisrael above all else. Serving as Chair of RAVSAK has been both a privilege and an honor and I will miss this era of my life tremendously. But like my youngest child, I know the future is in good hands and I rest confidently in the knowledge of a job well done.

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HaYidion Art and Aesthetics Summer 2016
Art and Aesthetics
Summer 2016