NewOrg Decision Press Release

January 19, 2016

Dear friends and colleagues,

Mazal Tov!

We are delighted to announce that Day Schools of Reform Judaism (PARDES), The Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE), RAVSAK (The Jewish Community Day School Network), the Schechter Day School Network (Schechter), and the Yeshiva University School Partnership (YUSP) have all agreed to move forward towards the formation of a new, integrated North American Jewish day school organization.

And, thank you!

Thank you for your patience during the planning process. Thank you for participating in the focus groups and surveys and one-on-one-conversations. Your feedback and overwhelming support for the concept of a new integrated organization is why we are at this point. Thank you for your best thinking and experience; it has all helped to shape and guide our work. We cannot adequately express our appreciation.

The decision by our respective leadership to move in this direction is an affirmation of the centrality of day schools in Jewish life and reflects our dedication to seeing Jewish learning, literacy, culture and commitment flourish in a rapidly changing world.  At the same time, it reflects the conviction of many in the day school community that we can all benefit from the knowledge, expertise and ideas of others, even if we express our Jewishness differently.  As one organization, we can unify to strengthen day schools, the core of the Jewish educational enterprise.

This new organization, which we are calling NewOrg until we finalize its name) is committed to supporting and enabling financial vitality and educational excellence in Jewish day schools, and to building and strengthening a vibrant, visible and connected Jewish day school field. By pooling the talent, expertise and resources that have been dispersed among our organizations, NewOrg will be able to offer an expanded set of programs, services and networking opportunities to benefit the more than 375 schools and close to 100,000 students one or more of us already serve, and any other schools interested in participating. In short, we are confident that NewOrg will be greater than the sum of its parts. We hope you share our enthusiasm.

Each of our five organizations plays a unique role with the schools we serve, and we are building NewOrg to do that and so much more. NewOrg will maintain and expand on stream-specific offerings, while scaling and developing field-wide programs; it will offer the small network feel, but with the benefits of leveraged resources and expertise. NewOrg will take the best of what each of our organization has to offer its schools, and then innovate and scale it for all schools interested in participating. It will network colleagues and schools of different ideologies and geographies to address shared challenges and capitalize on shared opportunities, while still providing distinct services and counsel to schools from within similar streams. NewOrg will advocate for all day schools. It will convene professional leaders, lay leaders and donors to advance the field, and bring in more resources. And, NewOrg will wield its extensive organizational reach and influence and bring it to bear on behalf of the needs of individual day schools.

We are grateful for AVI CHAI’s pledge of support to our new organization and look forward to partnering with other generous philanthropists – institutions and individuals – who are dedicated to building strength, excellence and vitality in Jewish day schools. A feasibility study we conducted as part of the planning process indicates potential for significant philanthropic investment in NewOrg.

We have initiated a global search for a Chief Executive Officer to lead the new organization and have engaged DRG, a leading executive search firm for the non-profit sector to assist us.  The initial board of directors of the new organization will be composed of one lay leader from each of the founding organizations, as well as from AVI CHAI. A large group of lay-leaders and donors have expressed interest in supporting and being engaged with the organization and will form the pool from which additional board members will be drawn. We have also begun a branding process to select the new organization’s name and develop an identity that reflects a unified, cooperative and fresh vision for the Jewish day school field.

We expect the new organization to launch, subject to the finalization of the formal agreement and necessary state approval, in Summer 2016.

Until then, the five founding organizations will continue to offer their affiliated schools the same services as before. While there will be a transition, our intention is to keep it as seamless as possible. Please be in touch with the executive director of your affiliated organizations with any questions. You can find additional information and updates at www.newjdsorg.org.

As always, we value and thank you for your partnership.

Sincerely,

The Planning Team

PARDES:

Jodi Hessel – Board Chair;

Rabbi Bradley Solmsen, Director, Campaign for Jewish Youth Engagement – URJ (bsolmsen@urj.org)

PEJE:

Michael Bohnen, Board Co-Chair;

Amy Katz, Past Immediate Executive Director and Senior Advisor (amy@peje.org)

RAVSAK:

Joseph Steiner, Board Member;

Dr. Idana Goldberg, Co-Executive Director (idana@ravsak.org)

SDSN:

Dara Yanowitz, Board Chair;

Dr. Jon Mitzmacher, Executive Director (jmitzmacher@schechternetwork.org)

YUSP:

Dr. Scott Goldberg, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning – Yeshiva University;

Jane Taubenfeld Cohen, Executive Director (jcohen11@yu.edu)

The AVI CHAI Foundation:

Yossi Prager, Executive Director, North America

Dr. Susan Kardos, Senior Director, Strategy and Education Planning