HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal



This issue examines how schools are adapting to the challenging circumstances of conducting business during the Covid-19 pandemic. Articles explore ways that school leaders are managing to organize stakeholders in a crisis; that schools are collaborating with each other and internally as a community to strengthen all systems; that educators are reinventing Jewish education through these exigencies by using online tools and shifting their pedagogies. Authors seek to find changes in the present that may have lasting value for a future, post-Covid reality.

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In the Issue: Remodeling

by Elliott Rabin, Editor Nov 16, 2020 Prizmah

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

There is no gainsaying the challenges that schools have faced this year. Illness, tuition, expenses, technology, mental health… Each word conjures a thousand pictures of heroic efforts made across the school to support, adapt, persevere. No one has gone unscathed, and no scathe has gone unnoticed and unattended by school professionals.

From the CEO: Scaling the Mountain Ahead

by Paul Bernstein, CEO, Prizmah Nov 16, 2020

In the world of mountaineering, there are three rules: It’s always further than it looks. It’s always taller than it looks. And it’s always harder than it looks. I have never imagined being able to climb a mountain, an achievement I believe to be beyond my capabilities, my stamina and, to be honest, my vertigo. And yet there are many extraordinary people who scale the peaks, many of whom perhaps at one time felt as I do, as if such a challenge is beyond their reach.

From the Board: Empowering Boards to Step up

by Yehuda Neuberger, Prizmah's Board Chair Nov 16, 2020

I have been so impressed with the determination, resilience and creativity of our day school community in attacking the challenge of returning to in-person instruction and/or providing the best-possible virtual learning. And I couldn’t be prouder of the myriad ways that Prizmah’s professional staff has enabled schools to cope with, and even grow from, the Covid experience.

Commentary: Day School Parenting Under Covid

Nov 16, 2020

It was my daughter’s birthday a few days ago. When she woke up, my daughter was so excited to see the decorations; my wife also surprised her by making crepes for breakfast (with fruit, whipped cream and nutella).

Then the Zoom calls started to happen. My daughter was pumped chatting with her swimming friends, and then jumped on another call with her school friends. Presents and signs started to show up on our front lawn.

The Advice Booth: Admissions Programs During Covid

by Yael Steiner Nov 16, 2020 Prizmah

As the director of admissions at my school, I typically run recruitment events so that prospective families in the community can get to know our school. I’m looking for creative ideas to engage prospective families that go beyond a typical Zoom session, as we know that families have serious Zoom fatigue. What would you recommend?

Good News on Alternative Tuition Models

by Amy Adler and Dan Perla, Prizmah Nov 16, 2020

The Covid pandemic has had a significant impact on Jewish day schools, increasing enrollment at some, forcing others into a virtual existence. It has also caused many schools to reexamine their tuition and fee structures.

Research Corner: Measuring the Pulse of Jewish Day Schools

by Odelia Epstein Nov 16, 2020

At Prizmah, we believe in the power of data-informed decision-making. Our Knowledge Center collects and houses data, research and resources for and about Jewish day schools and yeshivas. To support field leaders, we conduct original research, gather and share data, report on Jewish day school trends and partner with organizations to further important research in Jewish day school education.

Leadership Lessons in the Time of Corona: Practice and Theory

by Steven Lorch Nov 16, 2020 Kadima Day School, Los Angeles

The heroic stories of Jewish school leaders who transformed their schools in the face of a pandemic of daunting scale are legion. Principals and curriculum coordinators spearheaded and supported their faculties in overnight transitions from in-person learning to remote learning and in subsequent refinements of online teaching practices. Board leaders and directors of finance responded to parents’ financial distress with creativity and compassion and scrambled to access newly available financial and material resources.

Leveraging Covid: Adapting to Thrive

by Maury Grebenau Nov 16, 2020 Akiba-Yavneh Academy, Dallas

Back when the word “corona” evoked an image of an ice-cold beer, the concept of adaptive leadership was not on the front burner for most schools. Adaptive leadership enables organizations to identify changes needed to move forward guided by agreed-upon values. Thanks to its focus on leading in dynamic systems, however, it is especially applicable to this uncertain time of ongoing change.

Drawing Strength from Prior Crises

by Cheryl Maayan and Michael Rubin Nov 16, 2020 Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School, St. Louis

Winston Churchill once said, ““Never let a good crisis go to waste.” We who work in the Jewish day school world are familiar with crises, both large and small. All of them offer opportunities to learn. Our particular crisis a decade ago has made us stronger, more resilient and better equipped to learn, reflect and innovate in our day school in this unprecedented time of Covid-19.