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Twentieth Anniversary Edition of Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Masterwork Includes New Preface by Author, Afterward by Chief Rabbi Sacks

Yeshiva University will be publishing a 20th anniversary edition of YU Chancellor Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm’s masterwork, Torah Umadda, with a new preface by the author and an afterward by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom. The volume is scheduled for release by Maggid Books, an imprint of Koren Publishers Jerusalem, on December 1, 2010.Torah Umadda

First published in 1990, Torah Umadda focuses on how “human intellectual enterprise” outside of the study of sacred biblical and Talmudic texts, specifically education in the arts and sciences, fit within the framework of Torah Judaism. Throughout the work, Rabbi Lamm posits that the confrontation between Judaism and secular culture results in heightened creativity within Judaism.

In the book’s new preface, Rabbi Lamm explains that this philosophy has advanced considerably since Torah Umadda first went to print and he believes that it is only a matter of time before its greatest detractors enter the fray.

“I do not know of any plans to build formal, university-level academic institutions catering to the Ultra-Orthodox community but it stands to reason that once the mold is broken, the heretofore solid wall of opposition to Torah Umadda will crumble in North America and in Israel,” submits Rabbi Lamm.

“It may take a while but it will come because there is a need for it, because the Torah needs it as it has needed students throughout the ages, because the world needs it to function in a manner that will cause kiddush ha-Shem [sanctification of G-d’s name] for Jews and Judaism in our age and for all time.”

The 20th anniversary edition of Torah Umadda represents the work’s third printing and the first time it has been available for purchase from major retailers in over five years.

The new edition of Torah Umadda is the second of many planned projects from the new partnership between Yeshiva University and Koren Publishers Jerusalem. In October, Koren released Mitokh Ha-Ohel, a collection of original essays on the weekly parashiyot [Torah portions] authored by rabbis and professors from every division of Yeshiva University and plans to release a multi-volume set on topics of contemporary Jewish law, authored by the University’s Roshei Yeshiva, in the coming months.

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Institute for University-School Partnership Receives $1.6 Million Grant from Avi Chai Foundation to Strengthen Day School Finances

In support of the necessary goal of achieving financial stability and sustainability of the Jewish day school movement, the Avi Chai Foundation has made a $1.6 million grant to the Institute for University-School Partnership at Yeshiva University to support YU’s comparative financial benchmarking work with 30 Jewish day schools in five communities across the country. The goal is to greatly improve their financial operations and planning and help make them more affordable without sacrificing quality.

The three-year capacity building grant, which is designed to match an equivalent amount of funding from local sources, including local foundations and federations, establishes a comprehensive program that involves comparative financial benchmarking, long-term financial planning, and extensive consulting support for those schools.

Local communities, with the support of their area philanthropists who view sustainable day schools as a key communal priority, are actively pursuing participation in the program, and the Institute is currently working on the selection process. The Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE) will provide consulting support to the program

YU and Avi Chai view the program as a “Phase I” effort, which, if proven successful, would ultimately be scaled up to encompass 200 schools in 30 communities.

“This initiative marks the first time such an all-encompassing effort of comparative financial analysis and long-range planning has been established on a communal level,” said Dr. Harry Bloom, the Institute’s director of planning and performance improvement.  “It will provide great transparency into day school finances, from costs to revenue, so that they may achieve significant improvements based on hard facts, while preserving educational quality. Ultimately, our goal is to help these 30 schools achieve a 10% improvement in their finances, with a collective target value of $30 million in benefit to them.”

“We are delighted to be working together with Yeshiva University and the Institute for University-School Partnership towards our shared goal of building a strong and sustainable day school field,” said Yossi Prager, executive director of Avi Chai North America.

The initiative is an expansion of a pilot program facilitated by the Institute in several communities across the country, including Bergen County, NJ.   That effort employed a “Benchmark Survey” to identify significant school-specific revenue enhancement and expense reduction opportunities.

“The YU Benchmarking survey helped our schools learn a great deal about themselves,” said Dror Futter, co-chair of the Cost Reduction Committee, Jewish Education for the Generations in Bergen County.  “The information gathering effort required by the study yielded insights by requiring schools to look at their own information in new ways and different categories.  The comparative aspect of the study helped each school identify areas for savings and increased effectiveness in both their operations and fundraising.”

Dr. Bloom noted that comparative financial analysis is a promising tool in the independent school world and has been used by the National Association of Independent Schools and PEJE.

“Hence the need for this new initiative,” said Dr. Scott J. Goldberg, Institute director, who stressed that, “comparative financial analysis and long-term financial planning are part of a multi-pronged solution to day school sustainability, including endowment building and efforts to increase government funding.”

He added that it is “critically important that Jewish day schools achieve baseline financial management and fundraising efficiencies, and build organizational capacity.  In so doing, they will be better able to offer a quality product at a reasonable price, level off the rate of future tuition increases, engage in more sophisticated financial sustainability activities, and bring transparency to day school finances in a manner that inspires the confidence of philanthropists, parents, the community and other funding and investment sources.”

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December 2010
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