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June 25, 2015

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It has only been a few months since we were last in touch, and our work assessing the viability and potential impact of a new national Jewish day school entity has already begun to take powerful shape.

As a planning team of representatives from each of the five Jewish day school organizations, we join together with a deep array of knowledge and experience. We passionately believe in the potential of day schools to enrich and sustain Jewish life. We believe that together we have the capacity to be stronger and more viable than alone.

The notion of a single entity that would work across the entire Jewish day school field is game changing. Building on the strength of the prior collaborations between our organizations, the goal moving forward is to provide programs and services that will link day schools across denominations and geography; offer greater financial and technical capacity; and serve as a hub for sharing educational and operational best practices.

Toward that end, we are delighted to provide you with an update on the following initiatives:

  • We have hired an exceptional team of planning, communications and development professionals to facilitate our process. With their expert guidance, we are deep in conversation regarding issues of vision, structure, governance, technology, financial models, fundraising, communications, leadership and training;
  • We have begun a nationwide mapping of the programs and services available to day schools, in order to identify more acutely the strengths and challenges of the current structure. The goal is to determine ways in which this new entity could make its greatest impact and to identify partners, within and outside of the Jewish community, with whom it can advance the field;
  • We have begun to explore a framework for vision, strategies and outcomes (Theory of Change) for the day school field.
  • We have begun to share our initial vision, and the outcomes we hope this entity can achieve, with colleagues and stakeholders in the field;
  • We have hired an executive search firm to help us identify the expertise and qualities necessary of a chief executive to lead this new entity;
  • Finally, as previously announced, we look forward to holding the next NAJDS conference in 2017. In the interim, we are also postponing our individual conferences so that we can focus, collaboratively, on this new entity. Our plan is to create ongoing opportunities to keep you connected and informed about the status of this work.

We understand that this new entity must be informed by far-reaching thinking within the Jewish community and by models outside the community from which we can draw. We understand that the day school field must change, advance and adapt in order to be competitive. We also understand that Jewish day schools, rich with talented professionals and dedicated volunteers and donors, are overstretched and underfunded.

Our commitment remains to all of you, as the administrators, teachers, board members and donors of our schools. The goal for any new entity is to build on the strengths that currently exist within each of our organizations and work together to create responses to the areas of still unmet need.

Thank you for all that you do in our schools and in our communities. We look forward to being in touch over the summer and fall – for feedback and to continue to test assumptions around the concepts we are exploring.

Please note: We recognize that some of you may receive this communication more than once and, for this, we apologize. Please bear with us as we streamline communications and technology. As always, we encourage you to contact any of us with ideas or concerns.

Amy, Bradley, Idana, Jane, Jon, Dara, Jodi, Joey, Michael, Scott

Members of the Intermediary Agency Collaboration Working Group:

Jodi Hessel, Board Chair
Rabbi Bradley Solmsen, Director, Campaign for Youth Engagement, URJ

Michael Bohnen, Board Co-Chair
Amy Katz, Immediate Past Executive Director and Senior Advisor

Joseph Steiner, Board Member
Dr. Idana Goldberg, Co-Executive Director

Dara Yanowitz, Board Chair
Dr. Jon Mitzmacher, Executive Director

Scott Goldberg, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, Yeshiva University
Jane Taubenfeld Cohen, Executive Director

AVI CHAI Foundation
Yossi Prager, Executive Director, North America
Susan Kardos, Senior Director, Strategy and Education Planning