July 13, 2024
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Legacy and Endowment Gifts Announced at Ma’ayanot’s Anniversary Dinner

Saturday evening, March 5, was a moving and meaningful night for the Ma’ayanot community as over 450 people, including founding parents and faculty, alumnae, current parents, the graduating senior grade and almost the entire faculty, gathered together at Congregation Keter Torah in Teaneck for Ma’ayanot’s annual dinner.

This year’s dinner was unique in that it both marked the culmination of a year of 20th anniversary celebrations and it was dedicated to the memory of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, zt”l, who served as Ma’ayanot’s posek from the school’s very inception. Ma’ayanot’s president, Mr. Saul Kaszovitz, proudly noted that this year’s anniversary campaign was also unique in that it raised a record amount of funds.

The evening’s program started with a touching anniversary video that told the story of Ma’ayanot’s founding. A moving moment in the video was when founding parent, Mrs. Bonnie Eizikovitz, spoke about her tactic in recruiting students for the inaugural class: “I told the girls if they didn’t come they would be sheep, and if they did come they would be leaders, and I asked ‘Do you want to be sheep or do you want to be leaders?’” Ma’ayanot opened its doors in September 1996 with 26 ninth-grade students who chose to be leaders.

Mrs. Rivka Kahan, Ma’ayanot’s principal, pointed out that this anniversary celebration was especially meaningful as the entire founding administration, including Mrs. Esther Krauss, founding principal, Ms. Fayge Safran, founding vice principal, and Mrs. Enid Anziska, founding administrator, were in attendance. She also pointed out this milestone anniversary provided a fitting occasion to collectively reflect upon and appreciate the extent to which Rav Aharon’s early support for Ma’ayanot’s unique vision for Jewish women’s education enabled the school to take root and flourish over these last 20 years.

Mrs. Esti Rosenberg, Rav Lichtenstein’s daughter (and rosh beit midrash, Migdal Oz) provided video remarks from Israel to elaborate on her father’s strong connection to Ma’ayanot: “There was a special connection between my father and Ma’ayanot… When my father envisioned a serious high school with women being taught Torah on a high level, I think Ma’ayanot was exactly what he had in his vision.” She went on to praise Ma’ayanot graduates as “young women who are perfectly balanced between openness and tradition… women who have a strong vision of themselves and of what they can change and contribute to am Yisrael…,” and, ultimately, women of whom her father would be “very, very proud.”

Of course, a centerpiece of the evening was the introduction of this year’s honorees, which included Tim and Ria Levart as the Keter Shem Tov awardees; Rabbi Mark and Chumi Gottlieb as the Amudei Ma’ayanot awardees; Doug and Shera Dubitsky as Parents of the Year; and Dr. Julie Goldstein, Jewish History Chair and Senior Grade Encounter Coordinator, as the Teacher of the Year awardee.

Finally, an absolute highlight of the evening was when Mr. Kaszovitz announced that in addition to their generous financial support and significant volunteer activities over the years, the Levarts have also provided for the school’s future stability by establishing an exceptionally generous legacy gift on which Ma’ayanot is a named beneficiary. In announcing this gift, Mr. Kaszovitz asked the audience to “consider what that says about the Levarts. First, it manifests a huge dedication to the cause of Jewish education, and specifically to Ma’ayanot—it is one thing to support a school that your children are currently attending, but it is quite another level of dedication to establish a fund that will sustain the school long after you and your children have moved on. In addition, it truly establishes the Levarts as leaders within our community. Many believe that endowment and legacy giving will prove to be THE solution to our tuition crisis, and I’m sure it isn’t surprising to anyone in this room that the Levarts have chosen to lead the way toward this solution.”

Mr. Kaszovitz was also pleased to announce that the Levarts’ example has already influenced a Ma’ayanot faculty member to establish a $60,000 endowment account for Ma’ayanot. Mr. Kaszovitz concluded by saying, “While this is not the time or place for a full discussion of the differences between endowments and legacy gifts, it is indeed the appropriate place to announce these gifts, and to launch what we hope will be a strong and robust future sustainability campaign.”

The evening was one of reflection, pride, excitement and, as is Ma’ayanot’s way, visioning for the future. In her remarks, Mrs. Kahan explained, “In his chanukat habayit address [for Ma’ayanot], Rav Lichtenstein reflected on the name Ma’ayanot. He contrasted a ma’ayan with a mikvah; while a mikvah refers to water that has been collected and is stationary, a ma’ayan is characterized by movement, dynamism and constant growth.” Mrs. Kahan concluded by affirming, “At the heart of all of [our] efforts lies Rav Lichtenstein’s vision of a school that would not be based simply on a Torah of mikvah, but on a Torah of growth, life and vitality.”

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