(718) 858-8663

Letter from the Board June 2015

June 2015

Note from Emily Reisbaum, Board President


Hello Senesh!

I cannot believe the school year is almost over and that our 8th graders are graduating! Like our students, the Senesh Board has had a very busy year of seeking meaning, building community, and learning joyfully (more on these phrases, below). Please make sure you read to the very end of this note as it contains lots of information you will want to know.

Strategic Plan Committee: Amy Glosser and Marcella Kanfer Rolnick (Co-Chairs), JJ Berney, Jordy Green, Debra Kaufman, Iris Klein, Lisa Kleinman, Nicole Nash, Emily Reisbaum. As you know, the Board is committed to preparing a serious and inclusive evaluation of our strategic course. Based on your feedback from the Parent Survey and meetings with consultant Skip Kotkins, as well as input from alumni and community members and analysis of market data, we have updated our core Mission and Values and identified four strategic priorities:

Our Mission and Values team included Emily Reisbaum (captain), JJ Berney, Amy

Glosser, Virginia Heffernan, Iris Klein, Lisa Kleinman, Nicole Nash, Holly Ojalvo,

Marcella Kanfer Rolnick, and Marion Stein. After countless hours thinking about what Senesh truly is, incorporating your feedback, and wordsmithing, I am delighted to announce our refreshed Mission and Values, which beautifully and accurately reflects the unique Senesh experience. These core principles will guide us as we move forward.


Hannah Senesh Community Day School is a progressive, independent K-8 Jewish school in brownstone Brooklyn. We teach our students to:

SEEK MEANING. Drawing from the rich traditions of Jewish inquiry and secular

scholarship, our students learn to think deeply and realize their highest academic, intellectual, and ethical potential.

BUILD COMMUNITY. Our students and families cultivate meaningful connections within the school, with Israel, and in the wider world. We share a commitment to global citizenship and social responsibility.

LEARN JOYFULLY. We approach every day with creativity, passion, and joy, and celebrate Jewish learning and life.

Values: Our values, which are deeply rooted in Jewish teachings, guide us in all that we do at Senesh.

Kindness – Chesed – חסד

We treat each other with respect and strive to demonstrate compassion and empathy.

Openness – Elu v’Elu – אלו ואלו

We seek to understand diverse perspectives and accept those with different ideas.

Responsibility – Areivut – ערבות

We take responsibility to support the well-being of others in our community and the world around us.

Perseverance – Hatmadah – התמדה

We apply ourselves in all we do and earn the satisfaction of seeing things through, especially when the challenge is great.

Journey – Masa – מסע

We embrace life as a continuous journey of learning and growing.

1. Academic and Program Excellence

Team: Nicole Nash (captain), Debra Kaufman, Jaye Liset Lynch, Nir Rikman, Phyllis Sussman.

Agenda: We will chart a course to continue to develop our academics and programs so that they enrich our students in the present, while preparing them to excel in high school and beyond.

2. Faculty and Administration Excellence

Team: Nicole Nash (captain), Dahlia Nayman, JJ Berney.

Agenda: We will revisit how we attract, retain, develop, and support faculty and

administrators with the goal of advancing faculty excellence and improving job satisfaction.

3. Relationships and Communication

Team: Iris Klein (captain), Dan Greenberg, Lisa Kleinman, Holly Ojalvo, Nicole Nash.

Agenda: Our objective is to improve communications and relationships between the administration, faculty and staff, parents, and the community.

4. Managed Growth and Financial Sustainability and Accessibility

Team: JJ Berney (captain), Gary Gottlieb, Jordy Green, Kitty Linder, Emily Reisbaum, Andy Salkin, Neil Solomon.

Agenda: We will continually monitor, assess, and selectively develop our growth options for Senesh, and strengthen our financial position to ensure the School’s long-term viability, while increasing the accessibility of a Senesh education.

In the fall, please be on the lookout for online and hard-copy publications of our Strategic Plan, in which we will more fully explain these strategic priorities.

Finance Committee: The Finance Committee (Ellen Phillips (Chair), JJ Berney, Shai Carmel, Jordan Green, Gary Gottlieb, Nicole Nash, Emily Reisbaum, and Andrew Salkin), has had a very busy and exciting year. Thanks to the inspired and tireless efforts of JJ and Gary, we are in the process of re-financing our debt, which should reduce our interest rate from 7.25% to 3% or less. In addition, through the Committee’s and Nicole’s diligence, we have already paid off a significant amount of our historical debt. As a result, we look forward to a modest amount of additional financial resources which we will use to strengthen our programs consistent with the strategic priorities. We also have completed our annual audit, and again have a balanced and responsible budget.

Development Committee: The Development Committee (Jordy Green (Chair), Neil Solomon, Lisa Kleinman, Angie Lieber, Nicole Nash, and Emily Reisbaum) had a challenging, but successful year. Jordy Green worked tirelessly to make our Gala a success. Neil Solomon ran a smooth and record-breaking Annual Campaign. Lisa Kleinman spear-headed our Legacy Campaign to surpass even our ambitious goals. Many thanks to our Gala (Aviva and Kurt Will) and Journal Chairs (Michelle Berney, Nina Rabinovitch Blecker, Corinne Kotler), our Annual Campaign Class Captains (Gelena Blishteyn, Judy Schoenberg, Saul Jacobson, Abraham Stern (for twp grades!), Jennifer Heffez, Natania Blumenkehl, Larry Weiss, and Nadya Drukker) for all of their hard work! Thanks, of course, to Angie Lieber and Nicole Nash for leading these efforts, among others!

Facilities Committee: Ofer Cohen (chair), Yossi Ariel, Boaz Gilad, Tal Golomb, and Gary Gottlieb, Nicole Nash, and Emily Reisbaum). Our buildings and properties are all in good shape, creating revenue, and we are looking at ways to maximize them both.

Committee on Trustees: The Committee on Trustees (Kitty Linder (Chair), Aliza Kline, Nicole Nash, Adam Perlmutter, Emily Reisbaum, and Tori Rosen) led the Boart to participate in Board education conferences, complete a Board survey, support the School’s re-accreditation into the National Association of Independent Schools, publish FAQs explaining the Board’s work on our website (check it out here: http://www.hannahsenesh.org/about-us/board-of-trustees/board-faq), establish annual standing agenda items to ensure continuity, and bring on two new Board members, Boaz Gilad and Neil Solomon. Slate for 2015-16: Emily Reisbaum, President; Jordy Green, Vice-President; Ellen Phillips, Treasurer; Gina Schmeling, Secretary.

Finally, thanks to Nicole for her unwavering and limitless commitment to all of the above, and more!

Enjoy the summer! I look forward to re-connecting with you in the fall!