Strength in numbers is the idea behind a groundbreaking merger of five national organizations dedicated to Jewish day schooling. The provisionally named “NewOrg” brings together three denominational day school networks, one independent network, and one national umbrella organization to pool resources in support of schools. The collaboration not only addresses a pressing need in North American Jewish life — maintaining the excellence and controlling the soaring costs of Jewish schooling — it offers a shining example of cross-movement collaboration, a rare thing these days.
NewOrg is also vindication for a model pioneered in the Greater MetroWest community with the launch, in 2007, of the Greater MetroWest Day School Campaign. The campaign proved that three (and later four) day schools representing different streams could work together in raising money and quality, without blurring distinctions in their missions or stepping on one another’s toes. The success of the local campaign did not go unnoticed by educators and philanthropists nationwide, who called on its organizers to consult on the national merger.
The New York-based Avi Chai Foundation, which intends to spend down its assets by 2019, hopes the merged entities will be one of its lasting legacies. Success is not assured: Similar efforts have foundered over the years over turf issues and interdenominational discord. But the hundreds of day schools involved are not being asked to give up their independence, only to work together in reaching a common goal: excellent Jewish education for any child who seeks it.
In that way, too, the Greater MetroWest community has pointed the way. “The partnership with our sister Jewish schools in Greater MetroWest has validated that, paraphrasing Rav Kook, there is far more that unites us than divides us,” Rabbi Eliezer Rubin, head of school at the Kushner Academy, told us. May that be a lesson for all Jewish organizations and movements.