We live in a time when Jewish day school leaders are heavily preoccupied with questions of affordability and the utilization of new technologies to enhance student learning. That these two issues should garner much attention is understandable in the current climate. But even as schools grapple with them, a set of perennial challenges remain, and these concern the schools’ Jewish mission, values and content – the core reasons day schools exist.
Guided by a profound commitment to the vital importance of Jewish Literacy, Religious Purposefulness and Peoplehood, The AVI CHAI Foundation has sponsored this Case Study Project to examine how schools enact their Jewish missions. The 19 schools included in these case studies vary considerably in size – some have hundreds of students and others just a few dozen; geographic location – the heaviest representations are clustered on the East and West coasts, but some schools are in the mid-West, South and Canada; and affiliation – our sample includes Orthodox, Schechter and Community day schools. Some are the only day school in town; others function in an environment where quite a few other day school options are available. Almost all schools are named, as are their personnel. None is perfect, and indeed the purpose of these cases is not to hold up exemplary schools, but to bring to life the ways real schools address challenges common to many others.