Creating an Organizational Ecosystem

Summer 2014

Source: HaYidion, Summer 2014


For the past four years, Beit Rabban Day School, a community ECC-5th school, and Mechon Hadar, an institution of higher Jewish learning, based on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, which draws students from all over North America, have had a deepening educational partnership that has operated under the premise that “the whole being greater than the sum of the parts”. We believe this partnership has some valuable lessons for how day schools can thrive by drawing on the strengths of other communal institutions, particularly those focused on Jewish text learning.

The Beit Rabban-Mechon Hadar partnership has had several key elements:

  • Facilitated Havruta Study at Beit Rabban
  • Afterschool Enrichment Opportunities
  • Professional Development for Faculty
  • Community Educational Events

Our shared institutional priorities are obvious: the cultivation of new generations of highly educated and committed Jews who will serve as leaders of the Jewish world of tomorrow. As an organic growth of our first phase of partnership, we are excited to take the next step. This summer, we are launching a new initiative anchored in a joint staff position: a Director of the Jewish Curriculum Project at Mechon Hadar and Jewish Studies at Beit Rabban. The initiative will advance Beit Rabban’s agenda of raising the bar further on Jewish Studies at the school while simultaneously aiming to contribute to a national conversation about goals for Jewish education in classical texts.


Our goal is to integrate two central projects: intensive teaching and supervision in the classroom at Beit Rabban, and articulation of standards and benchmarks for fluency in Jewish learning in the early childhood and elementary years (N-8). By developing this second element within the context of a “lab school,” the outcome will be informed by the dialogue between the material, the teachers, the students and the other key stakeholders of the school.


Lessons Learned About Collaboration

To this endeavor, we also bring some lessons learned over the past few years of our partnerships that can be applied to other types of collaborations that may be helpful and preempt misunderstandings or frustration.

  • Ensure clarity of organizational vision and mission.
  • Define the scope of the project.
  • Give the initiative a home.
  • Plan for ongoing evaluation and communication.
  • Engage stakeholders.
  • Share the success equally.
  • Add new partners.

Organizations like RAVSAK create framework for collaboration within the field, and HaYidion serves as an important platform for the sharing of ideas, successes and approaches that can inform the discourse within this important sector of the day school world. We hope that both the experience of our expanding partnership and this new initiative will help inspire others to look to others in their community and beyond to dream together, leverage one another’s assets, and accelerate innovation in the field. Having more of us working together truly creates a world that is very good indeed.


Read the entire article in HaYidion.

Updated: Jun. 25, 2014