A New Year, a New Leader and a New Strategy, for PEJE

As the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE) transitions to a new leadership team, Executive Director Amy Katz, has charted five major goals for the coming year. Katz, PEJE’s former Associate Director, moved into the top spot earlier this month following Rabbi Josh Elkin’s decision to explore new opportunities. And, befitting the climate of today’s world, collaboration and partnerships are taking a front-row seat.

Going forward, PEJE plans to:

  1. Deliver cutting edge programs that enable Jewish day schools to become financially sustainable, no matter the economic challenges.
  2. Advocate boldly and broadly for the value of Jewish day school.
  3. Expand existing collaborations.
  4. Seek measurable outcomes.
  5. Enhance relationships with Partners, Board members and potential donors.

“PEJE’s history may be just a nano-second in the history of the Jewish people, but we’re in a unique position to affect future generations,” says Katz. In the upcoming year, PEJE will increase its role as a critical thought leader by: sharing knowledge and technical resources, convening stakeholders, sharing expertise through coaching and training, and advocating for shared responsibility and positive change.

“It’s clear that day schools need to attract more students and more donors,” she says. “To achieve their goals, schools must build a better infrastructure, clarify their unique selling points, strengthen their governance, and become more accountable. Working collectively, schools will be better positioned to present the value proposition of Jewish day schools to potential donors and to the larger community.”

Already, PEJE’s strategic business plan is bearing fruit. Preliminary results include:

  • For the first time, PEJE will partner with the day school networks – Yeshiva University’s Institute for University-School Partnership, RAVSAK, PARDeS, and the Schechter Network – to jointly coordinate and plan the North American Jewish Day School Conference.
  • PEJE is collaborating with the Orthodox Union to strategically address the critical issue of day school affordability.
  • Thanks to a new partnership with JData – an organization dedicated to strengthening the Jewish education sector by making available comprehensive, high-quality data – PEJE will be able to gather and benchmark critical measures related to day school sustainability.
  • The launching of PEJE’s new proprietary Development Self-Assessment Tool (DSAT), will enable all Jewish day schools throughout North America to assess core competencies in their progress toward financial sustainability – a key to helping schools become more accountable.
  • Generations, a program of the Endowment and Legacy Institute (ELI), is a major collaboration among the AVI CHAI Foundation, a federation or central Jewish agency, and PEJE. With a goal of helping schools secure their future through endowment and legacy gifts, the initiative has already leveraged community partnership investments of just under 2 million dollars.

According to PEJE, the vibrant Jewish future we envision for tomorrow is based on the actions we take today. Paramount in this process is building the capacity of Jewish day schools.

“We must appreciate what is at stake and what we can accomplish through shared responsibilities,” says Katz. “I am grateful for the participation of so many: our Partners and Board members, PEJE staff and coaches, our partner organizations, the day school networks, the federations, the central agencies, and of course, the dedication, expertise, and talent of day school leaders throughout the field. Together, as we celebrate our past and stay connected to our heritage, we must simultaneously take bold steps to sustain our future.”