Our guest columnist is Eric Blomquist, Director of Development and Operations at Schechter Manhattan.
In the year since I came to Schechter Manhattan to work on the 2018 Gala, what has impressed me most about Schechter Manhattan is what a warm, caring community it is. There is a generosity and a spirit of giving. Instead of hearing “you need to do this…. I hear …. “how can I help?” It is rare to find this in any community and I feel blessed that I get to experience this daily. This generosity of spirit and giving shows itself in many ways. The Parents Association is always ready to lend a hand and find volunteers to take on projects; families contribute gifts in honor of milestone events for other children and families in the school; and students help other students learn and grow. In my role as Director of Development and Operations, I see this community feeling in the way people make gifts to the school. Parents whose children graduated many years ago continue to remember Schechter Manhattan in their annual giving and we now have young adult alumni who have begun to do the same. Eighty-nine percent of our current families have supported the school this year. Everyone does what they can to ensure that Schechter Manhattan continues to provide the best Jewish education available.
All of this and the dedication of our donors, parents, faculty, and administration was brought home to me last Friday night in Schul. The Parashah was Terumah ( Exodus 25: 1 – 27) which opens with a call for the Israelites to bring to God what the standard English translation calls “gifts.” While the rabbi spoke about the building of the Ark and related the verses to today’s world, I began to think about the many gifts given to me over the past year and the very special community I have been fortunate to find myself a part of. It made me grateful that I have an opportunity to work with, encourage and guide the many people in the New York Jewish community who are eager to see that Schechter Manhattan succeeds and continues to graduate young people poised not only to do well in life but also to do good in the world.
Currently, I am hard at work getting ready for the 2019 Schechter Manhattan Gala, and I am especially excited by the powerful community involvement of our honorees. Suzanne Katz and Richie Friedman are Schechter Manhattan parents and active Jewish leaders. Among their many contributions to the New York Jewish community, Suzanne is the immediate past President of the Schechter Manhattan Board of Trustees and Richie is the current President of the Board of Camp Ramah in the Berkshires. Cantor Nancy Abramson trains future hazzanim in prayer, nusah, and religious leadership in her role as the Director of H. L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Her early support of Schechter Manhattan as a member of the clergy team at the Park Avenue Synagogue in the 1990s made her a friend of our mission and community from the beginning. Suzanne, Richie, and Nancy represent beautifully the spirit of giving to the community that we value so highly at Schechter Manhattan. We received many nominations of Schechter Manhattan alumni doing great things in the world, and expect to announce the name of the recipient of our Alumni Leadership Award shortly. All of these people reflect the Schechter Manhattan value of giving, and we are delighted to be able to give back to them in turn.
We also have dedicated parents who give generously of their time. Members of the Auction Committee are hard at work securing exciting donations from local businesses and contacts from around the world for the live and silent auction, while Gala Committee members solicit journal ads, work on videos, event logistics and the best way to present to our attendees all that makes Schechter Manhattan special. The Gala is not only a chance to come together and celebrate as a community, it is our most important fundraiser. It is both a wonderful evening and an opportunity to enable access for all students to a Schechter Manhattan education. You will receive a formal invitation and links for purchasing tickets and journal ads in the coming days. In the meantime, please mark April 8, 2019, on your calendar and plan to join our whole community in supporting Schechter Manhattan.