From the Board Chair: Seizing the Moment

In my previous message in this publication, I concluded with the bold statement, “There has never been a better time to believe in Jewish day schools.” That sentiment continues to resonate with me, and as I look to Prizmah’s May 15-16 Day School Investor Summit in Palm Beach, the phrase “good timing” stands out in my mind. Whether or not you have children in a day school, if you care about the Jewish future, now is a great time to care about Jewish day schools.

When day school supporters gather in Florida, we will be marking this auspicious time for day schools and making the time to do what we can to seize the moment, energize each other and prepare ourselves to take bold steps to elevate day schools to the next level. Prizmah is convening philanthropists, foundations and community leaders to build connections, learn together and generate new opportunities for day school investment. Today’s funders have a new desire to understand national patterns and trends, and the Investor Summit is designed to move the entire field forward in order to better advance their local schools.

There is much for us to celebrate, thanks to the hard work and dedication of day school professionals and lay leaders. Schools demonstrated their strength during the worst of the pandemic, and as we started to come out of the lockdown, we saw the first overall enrollment increase to the day school system in 20 years. The level and quality of education at day schools is high; we are witnessing a great commitment to excellence. Communities are recognizing the critical role schools play and prioritizing support.

At this time of strength, our function is to leverage our achievements and direct attention to what will sustain our schools over the coming years. By coming together as day school funders, we can share ideas with each other and provide strength for moving forward.

Our hope is that each of us will walk away from the Summit and be able to energize our respective communities to focus on key capacities: increasing enrollment, addressing affordability and renewing our commitment to excellence.

As we all know, significant resources, financial and otherwise, are out there. I think about my parents’ generation, for whom success meant supporting their children through college and graduate work. Today, with even higher levels of accumulated wealth, there are potential funders with resources that, if used to support our schools—through endowment gifts, capital gifts or annual giving—would make a real difference. We need to spread the word about the value of the day school system to the entire Jewish community and encourage everyone to make an affordable, excellent day school education a real priority.

Our message to our friends in our home communities should be clear: Ensuring continuity and commitment to Jewish values, our schools also help ensure that future generations have the knowledge, skills and priorities to sustain themselves. As we know from recent research, day schools also produce future leaders for our communities.

Part of spreading the word about day school value is helping to build and strengthen the relationships between communities and the schools within them. This is a win-win situation, as schools will act as a magnet that pulls a community together and makes it more cohesive. In addition, the more a school is appreciated by a community, the more likely that school is to receive the necessary support.

So yes, now is the best time to believe in Jewish day schools. Prizmah is here to help, and we look forward to deepening our relationship with all day school supporters this May and making the most of this very special moment.

Author
David Friedman
Issue
Value Proposition
Published: Spring 2022