Endowment campaign for the benefit of the school.
…Most importantly, tonight is a night for celebration...we celebrate Westchester Day School. For those here who are not directly involved with WDS, let me describe to you the majority of people in the room. These are people who love Westchester Day School. They are current and past board members, all whom are either parents of current students, parents of alumni, grandparents and professionals who would like nothing more than for WDS to be recognized as the elite Jewish educational institution that it is.
And in that last sentence, the most important word might be “institution.” Because that is what WDS is. It is everything good that is connoted by that word. It’s not fledgling. It is 66 years strong. It has stood the test of time. It has weathered economic storms, physical storms, fire and ice. It has outlasted all of the latest trends long forgotten. A few examples:
This year we graduated our first 3rd
generation student, Gabi Sadinoff, daughter of graduate and current board member Sara Meyers Sadinoff (’84), granddaughter of graduate Joan Meyers (’57), Aleha Hashalom. It’s hard to say which one of them has made the school prouder but it’s easy to say that as a group, they prove the value of the institution.
The school’s new president, Josh Trump, is not just the parent of 4 exceptional children, is not just a student himself who attended the school through 6th
grade before his family relocated to Florida. He is a second generation president of the school. His mother was the first female president of the school (in the late 80’s). It’s hard to say which of them has made the school prouder but it’s easy to say that as a duo, they prove the value of the institution.
And finally, as odd as this may sound at first, I have never attended a shiva like the shiva of Shelley Lippman, WDS’ beloved science teacher for the past 40 years. One by one, alumni told Mrs. Lippman’s family members how much she influenced their lives. “I am a doctor because of Mrs. Lippman.” “I am a 4th
year med student because of Mrs. Lippman.” “I am a nurse because of Mrs. Lippman.” “I was a science major in college because of Mrs. Lippman.” “I became a teacher because of Mrs. Lippman.” “My favorite class in middle school was Mrs. Lippman’s.” It felt like what the shiva of a great rebbe must feel like, the influence that one person could have on so many lives. A middle school teacher. Not a high school teacher. Not a college professor. A middle school teacher. You know what Shelley Lippman was? An institution. Shelley did the heavy lifting but the longevity and sustained excellence of Westchester Day School enabled her to do that.
And what Shelley did is really a microcosm of what a day school is supposed to do: to connect its students to the world around them and to give them the tools and desire to impact that world; to turn math into problem-solving, social studies into activism, Gemara into critical thinking, Tanach into a love of Israel, literature into creativity, science into curiosity, writing into communication, Tefila into spirituality, Halacha into commitment. In short, to lay the groundwork that you all had, that brought you to positions of leadership in the Jewish community.
That takes an institution.
And institutions don’t just survive day to day, hand to mouth. They plan for the future. That’s the way they last long enough to achieve greatness. That enables a school to make a lasting impact, to nurture students and teachers, to think long-term, incubate ideas to help better the world in which we live.
The founders of the school operated that way when they donated the land. The property itself is a form of endowment. It certainly reflects an endowment mentality. And that should be the way we think at WDS.
A friend of mine who visited the campus once, said that the castle building looked like Hogwarts. “Oh my God,” he said. “You’re the head of Hogwarts! You’re Dumbledore!” And there is some truth to that. Not that I am Dumbledore but that there is magic that happens at WDS. You or your children have all been under that spell at one point or another or else you wouldn’t be here tonight.
So tonight we celebrate…great day school lay leaders and the great institution of Jewish education that is Westchester Day School.
May God give us the strength and years to see our dreams realized and may he bring peace to the state and people of Israel.”