While many people attribute the pervasiveness of Mother's Day and Father's Day each year to Hallmark's marketing budget, I take a longer view and see these days as linked to the fifth commandment, "Honor your father and your mother." Jewish tradition demands honor and respect to parents year-round; for two days this time of year, we are driven to pay them special attention. In the day school world, where parents are generally the ones who make the choice to enroll their children and who make any number of compromises and sacrifices as a result, we do well to consider ways we demonstrate appreciation for parents, and in turn, ways that they contribute to successful schools.

Generations/ELI National Conference

"From Strategy to Success" was the theme of this year's Generations National Endowment and Legacy Institute (ELI). Professionals from 24 Generations schools (current and alumni) attended the conference at the Luxe Hotel in Los Angeles.

Some conference highlights:
  • Community Building through Conversation: Forget Hamilton, Let's Talk About Jefferson! Using Thomas Jefferson's approach to dinners to help learn how to engage supporters to deepen community and create excitement for our schools
  • Who's the Hero of Your Story? with Lisa Colton How to frame a school's story to maximize investment
  • Tales from Higher Education: A Different Take on the Integrated Ask with Rhea Turteltaub, UCLA's Vice Chancellor, External Affairs Insights on how the advancement team at UCLA builds individual cultivation and stewardship plans for major and planned gifts prospects
  • How Donors Set Philanthropic Priorities: Recent donors from Generations schools describing their motivations for giving and investing in their community's day schools
Learn more about Generations and the way endowments are changing the long-term financial picture for many schools.  


New School Administrators

Prizmah Smart Search is delighted to have assisted the following school with the recent search and hire process:
  • SAR High School - Rabbi Danny Kroll as Assistant Principal

To learn more about Prizmah's leadership search and placement services, please contact
Rabbi Maccabee Avishur.

Reshet Prizmah

Wondering how the Reshet Prizmah groups actually create opportunities for school leaders to learn from each other and deepen their practice? Take this recent example from the Judaic Studies Reshet:
Within a week of each other, two Reshet webinars were attended by 37 people from 28 schools. The first webinar, Creative Approaches to Engaging Students in Egalitarian Prayer, featured faculty members from Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School, Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation's Capital, and The Leo Baeck Day School in Toronto discussing their school-made siddurim. A few days later, Rabbi Dr. Jay Goldmintz from Ma'ayanot Yeshiva High School and Mrs. Elisheva Kaminetsky from the Stella K. Abraham High School For Girls, Hebrew Academy of Long Beach joined a conversation around the question Does Kavanah Count? Cultivating Spirituality in Traditional Tefillah. Each call included ways for participants to ask questions, and after a particularly lively chat, one Reshet member approached Prizmah's facilitator about sharing the chat with the rest of the Reshet and then forming a working group on the more specialized topic of engaging students and faculty in tefillah. In this way, the members of the group worked with Prizmah to create a way that their network could focus on a specific topic and extend the learning from these webinars. 
This visual captures the flow of how members who experience value from the Reshet through the Reshet actually create additional networking and learning opportunities.
Join the Prizmah Team!

Are you passionate about Jewish education and love the idea of providing support to Jewish day schools around the country? 

Prizmah is looking for a few talented individuals to join our team. 

Click here to view descriptions of current job openings and please  share across your personal and professional network.

Denver Jewish Day School 
Puts Parents to Work

One of the more common roles parents play in Jewish day schools, either informally or "officially," is as ambassadors to the prospective families. Shayna Friedman, Director of Admission at Denver Jewish Day School , recently shared their school's experience with parent ambassadors and how  Atidenu  helped them rethink their model, resulting in healthier recruitment and retention.


Many families in our school are uncomfortable or unskilled at integrating the Jewish values we teach with their home environment. I don't want to be "preachy" but would love to partner with parents to help them extend what the school aims to instill. Help!

  - A hard working Division Head

This is an ongoing issue in most community day schools. Three thoughts:
First, are these Jewish values more ritual or more leaning toward the ethical sphere? While I feel that often this type of dichotomy is false and can be educationally harmful, it is nevertheless one that is a reality in the minds of many. Red flags do not go up as much with parents when you push them to do more chesed or tzedakah, but when we push lulav or kashrut too hard, it runs the risk of backfiring.  
Second, try to remember that while parents may have a wide variety of reasons for sending their children to day school, our schools should be unapologetically wanting to promote Jewish growth. This is who we are and why we do what we do. That said, to paraphrase my teacher and rebbe Rabbi Avi Wess, I have always kept in mind the importance of exposing families to the beauty of Jewish values and practice, rather than imposing any particular practice. This lens often helps as a barometer for how we present our Judaic program and what type of followup we encourage at home.

Finally, know your people and your community. There is no replacement for this. If you know your families, you will know what buttons you can push and what you cannot. This applies to every realm and certainly one as fragile as the issue of home practice in the Jewish community school.  

- Rabbi Aaron Frank, Head of School, Kinneret Day School, Riverdale, NY

Have a burning question that you'd like a Prizmah expert to answer? Send it to 

Due Friday, May 26
The AVI CHAI Foundation is happy to announce an expanded partnership with BetterLesson to  support Jewish day school teachers to personalize student learning in their classrooms. AVI CHAI will cover participation costs for up to 10 teachers per school to receive a year of 1:1 personalized coaching from blended learning experts, and incorporate new blended learning strategies into their practice to personalize student learning in their classroom. Applications from Head of School and teachers are due Friday, May 26. Details available here.
Deadline July 10
In honor of its Chai (18th) Year of grant making, the Hadassah Foundation is sponsoring a video and essay contest for high school students. All entries must be submitted electronically by July 10, 2017. Winners will meet one-on-one via phone or teleconference with Anita Diamant, bestselling author of The Red Tent and The Boston Girl, and Amanda Lipitz, a Tony Award winning Broadway producer and Executive Producer and Creator of MTV's groundbreaking series "Legally Blonde the Musical: The Search for Elle Woods." Winners' work may also be featured in Hadassah publications. Learn more here .

June 5-6
The 31st Annual Conference for the Network for Research in Jewish Education will be held from June 5-6, 2017, at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. Held in collaboration with the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry, the Conference will offer a unique opportunity to engage with educational phenomena in all their manifestations, settings, and contexts, and to place our engagements with Jewish education in broader scholarly and social contexts, in an effort to continue challenging and advancing our field.  Learn more details, and register here .
ON THE MAP  is an award-winning Israeli documentary that tells the against-all-odds story of Maccabi Tel Aviv Basketball's 1977 win of the European Cup. The film is both educational and entertaining as it depicts Israel and her people's rise from the depression that followed the Yom Kippur War and Munich, to become an international powerhouse, both militarily, after Entebbe, and in sports, after Maccabi's '77 win. The lessons learned from Maccabi's story are relevant today more than ever, politically and socially, as well as for young Jews who are making decisions that will affect their paths in life, during and after school. For more information about screening  ON THE MAP  at your school, please contact Tamar Simon.
Last year, the Miami Federation gave area day schools a grant to use toward enhancing marketing. Inspired by MetroWest, New Jersey day schools, CAJE, Federation, and the schools worked together to create Project GO: Great Options for Jewish Day School Education an online resource for families looking for Jewish educational options. Please share with your local networks as a resource for anyone moving to South Florida. While it highlights Miami K-12 day schools, there is a link to the CAJE website that includes directories for all school types (ECE, congregational schools) as well as for day schools as far north as West Palm Beach. 
Support your school's Yom Yerushalayim programming or plans for commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War with 50 Reasons for Hope , an exciting online multimedia resource center that showcases content about Jerusalem's diversity and multiplicity of expression for a wide audience. With "50 Reasons for Hope," those who love Jerusalem from afar can download a collection of digital resources including lesson plans, study sources, video and web-based photo exhibitions, recorded lectures, and other useful and inspiring sources. 

Reshet Prizmah Webinar Schedule

Trends in Israel Education with Ramah Israel with Rabbi Randy Brown of Ramah
Thursday, May 25 
12-1 pm ET / 9-10 am PT

Interested in learning more about Prizmah's full calendar of events and participating in conversations like these?  Lay and professional leaders of Prizmah member schools are invited to join one of Prizmah's 20 networking groups. 
Click here  to learn more.

Mazel Tov to Donna Von Samek, Prizmah's Creative Director and her husband, Adam, on the birth of a new baby boy.
Mazel Tov to Mrs. Sara Duani, Jewish Studies Curriculum Coordinator and Jewish Studies teacher at Yeshiva Har Torah in Little Neck, New York, who was recently named a Young Pioneer in Jewish Education by the Jewish Education Project . Read more here .

A dose of cuteness:  Atlanta Jewish Academy hosted Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett on May 8 . Watch the Kindergarten class of Yael Katz and Hadas Bernstein singing 
Do you have good news to share with the day school field? Send the details to [email protected] to be included in a future issue of the Prizmah Newsletter.