HaYidion: RAVSAK's Journal of Jewish Education: Size Matters

Summer 2014

Source: HaYidion – Summer 2014


This issue of HaYidion is devoted to the effects of the size of Jewish community day schools on their impact. This issue of HaYidion will make the case that Jewish community day schools of all sizes have similar impact. They also have challenges, some in proportion to their size, others common to all. Unique to this issue is the inclusion of articles about schools outside of North America. One is a school enrolling more students than there are Jews in the country, and another that enrolls 80% of all Jewish children. There are several fascinating proposals advanced by our authors, including one that challenges funders to recognize the vibrancy and importance of small schools as a collectivity and to provide support nationally to ensure their continued vitality.


Regardless of size, however, day school leaders, both lay and professional, seek connections and networks. Luckily, for all of us, RAVSAK serves as the glue that binds us, and whether you are the only school in a small city or a large school with many colleagues in a major metropolis, you need those ties. Issues related to size as well as many other challenges are more easily handled when the experience and advice of others in similar situations can be accessed. Once again, RAVSAK plays an impactful role in facilitating these connections. And as we know, impact matters much more than size in the day school world.


Among the articles in this issue are:
  • Small Schools, Big Challenges, Bigger Opportunities 
    N. Shira Brown 

    Forty-two of the 130 schools in the RAVSAK network of Jewish community day schools are considered “small,” enrolling fewer than 100 children. Yet the role they play in the bigger picture of Jewish education is just beginning to be recognized and appreciated.

  • Small School Bigger Job
    Elaine Cohen

    Cohen describes the long list of expectations that small-school heads often confront, and the inner resources they need for their role. Her advice is geared especially for boards to help their heads succeed in this daunting work.

  • Financial Challenges and Opportunities for Jewish Day Schools in Small Communities 
    Daniel Perla

    Small schools often find themselves in an economic bind, having much less revenue and comparable expenses compared to larger schools. Here is a diagnosis and some suggested remedies. 

  •  18: The Chai Year Transitioning from Growth to Sustainability
    Mark L. Goldstein and Marilyn Forman Chandler

    In small Jewish communities, day schools and federations need to work together fully as partners that strengthen each other. Here are a number of important ways to connect these silos.

  • Making the Most of Technology in Small Schools
    Russel Neiss

    The author argues that for all that they may lack in funding for technology, small schools may have an advantage in getting it right: introducing technology where and when it supports strong education.

  • Jewish Learning for What?
    Jonathan Woocher

    The letter C appears to have assumed an especially prominent place in discourse about education today. There is, of course, the Common Core, the latest attempt to define and implement a set of national standards for what students should know and, even more importantly, be able to do with that knowledge, with a strong emphasis on so-called higher order thinking skills. And, there are, in various configurations, the four (or five, or six, or seven) Cs that name critical “21st century learning” skills, items such as creativity, collaboration, curiosity, communication, critical thinking, cross-cultural understanding, and others that have been suggested, seen as vital for students to be able to thrive in a rapidly changing world.

  • A Small Jewish Community and Its Day School: A Jewish Social Contract
    Joshua Elkin

    While this portrait is adapted from a larger case study project developed for the AVI CHAI Foundation, which focuses on strengthening the Judaic mission of day schools, all articles in this section are studies of day school adaptability, ingenuity and foresight.

  • A Small Jewish Community with a Big Educational Impact
    Raquel Katzkowicz

    The Jewish community in Quito, Ecuador, has found an original formula for education for all with a distinctly Jewish secular atmosphere.

  • Meeting a Need by Addressing Special Need
    Interview with Ilana Ruskay-Kidd

    The head of a new school for students with language-based disabilities explains the kinds of conversations, choices and relationships that have informed the school’s vision and formation.

  • A Primer for School Growth
    Daniel Alter

    The joy of watching a day school grow comes with a great many challenges that are often unanticipated and difficult to prepare for. Alter offers a roadmap based on his school’s own navigation of this process.

  • School Grows in Washington: Insights on Opening a Second Campus
    Ronit Greenstein

    The move from one campus to two solves space issues while challenging a school’s sense of unity and intimacy among students and faculty. Greenstein describes changes and innovations her school developed to meet these challenges.

  • Endowment A Strong Base of Funding for the Future
    Lynn W. Raviv

    Raviv portrays the different ways that a school endowment can strengthen a small school. Besides sustainability, endowments can drive educational growth, community building and much more.

  • Tuning the Choir: The Multicampus School
    Geoff Cohen and David Ginsberg

    In this piece, the authors describe the administration of the largest RAVSAK member, Cape Town’s Herzlia with 10 campuses.

  • Leading Large Jewish Day Schools: Seeking Answers Together
    Mitchel Malkus

    Malkus, a new head at one of the largest American day schools, has undertaken an initiative to engage leaders of large schools in a discussion to share challenges and successes. Here are some common threads thus far.

  • Sizing Things Up: Two Leaders of Large Day Schools Share What Works
    Shana Harris and Cathy Lowenstein

    Two leaders of large schools in Canada exchange reminiscences about their careers and thoughts about the components that have enabled them to succeed and their schools to thrive.

Updated: Jun. 18, 2014