Friday, January 13, 2012

Not One Dollar for Hebrew School

A city, somewhere between LA and NY invited me to speak about my work.

When I cam off the plane, I asked permission to say what I really thought.
"Yes, feel free to stir the pot."

Ok get the spoon:

That evening, in the elegant livingroom of a donor, where the Miro painting was quite at home, I said to a group of 20 people:

"I don't think you should give one dollar to Hebrew Schools.
No more support of Hebrew Schools that exist where children learn in afternoon classrooms and parents attend three times a year 'holiday celebration/performances.'"

I shared the story of how New York's Federation set an agenda on new models of education with their funding. This is where money was going: models that engage today's learners and show a positive measurable difference in their lives.

Money is a spotlight on what is important. It can set an agenda. Some people get frustrated with funders who set the agenda.
But in this case, I say thank you UJA Federation of New York.

When a community continues to give money to support the status quo it achieves its goal.
"Not a dollar for the status quo."

No one threw me out of the lovely living room. They served me fresh berries and lemon curd (yum).

The next morning I asked permission again.

"I'm going to speak to the educators, is it ok if I say the same thing?"

Yes, here is your spoon, mix it up.

The next day in the am, I put on my "talking in front of people suit," and spoke to 35 educators.
I said it again and quickly hid behind the blackboard posted in front of the room.

And you ready for this?
The educators lured me out of hiding with, "Make sure you say that when you go later in the afternoon to group that makes money decisions."

"Make sure the funders know we want to sit with our rabbis and lay leaders and plan together a better picture. We need real partnership."

"Make sure the funders know innovation can't happen just on the backs of the educators. Tell them about CoalitionEducators and changing the staffing pyramid so there are the resources to make the change."

Small group of rabbis heard me too.

At the end of the day, the last group heard my message.
Yes to many dollars that can help break the walls of traditional drop- off -sit-in-chair and try to learn "about being Jewish.
Yes to dollars and human capital to make needed change.
No to one more dollar for the status quo.

A kindly gentleman escorted me to the door.
Back to New York where a community was bold and said, no more status quo.
A good place to travel. Got a spoon in my pocket.