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A Letter from Wendy S. Light
National Education Consultant
Framework for Excellence
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

May 9, 2003/ 7 Iyar 5763


Mazel tov to each and every one of you at Northern Hills Synagogue on achieving the honor of becoming a Framework for Excellence School. I share your sense of pride and accomplishment. This mighty little Religious School with its extraordinary dedication and singleness of purpose created a network of interested and caring volunteers who lovingly joined together with the professional staff to create, guide, implement, oversee and evaluate one of the finest religious schools in this entire country. Your celebration is a true congregational victory.

We at United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism have learned so much from you. Initially we thought that the Framework would be a good standard of measurement of larger schools…schools of 150 students and more. We thought it would take us a few years and we would adopt a less strict set of standards for the smaller schools. We now know that that effort will not be necessary. You have changed our minds. You have raised the bar for all small schools. No longer can it be said that you can't have a good school without lots of students. Northern Hills Synagogue has proven this wrong. No longer can it be said that you can't have a good school if you don't have large sums of money in your budget. Northern Hills has proven this wrong. No longer can it be said that you can't have a viable educational program with goals, objectives held together by an outstanding curriculum, because Northern Hills have proven them wrong. No longer can they tell us that it is an impossibility to find really good, knowledgeable, dedicated teachers. Northern Hills has proved this wrong too.

If you want to see what an excellent school looks like you don't have to look far. Northern Hills has set the standards for Jewish educational excellence. Aside from all of the wonderful official documentation that was presented for Framework approval, it is so clear that Northern Hills is a unique institution. Talk for a minute to Rebecca Starr. She is an educator who is driven to accomplish nothing less than the best for all of her students and their families. She is constantly striving to raise the standards to their highest levels never satisfied with a program that is simply 'good enough'. Spending time with Rabbi Gershom Bernard, a mensch of mensches, one goes away reflecting his Judaic passion and his love for his students, his congregants, his shul.

Walking through your synagogue building with Barry Wolfson and hearing about plans for the future, I couldn't help but be struck by the pride he has for his shul and how he helps others to envision wonderful possibilities.

For Sonia Miliod, the love for her shul is in the details. No one is going to ever tell her that her dreams were impossible. She knows better. Compliment these hard working individuals with an incredibly dedicated Education Committee, hard working, caring individuals selflessly giving hours of their time, sitting through hours of unexciting meetings, talking, deliberating, prioritizing and doing some positively unglamourous work. What a phenomenal group effort. Today's celebration belongs to each and every one of you.

Just an aside for a moment, I want you to know that the Framework documentation book that I received from Rebecca Starr is some 4 inches thick. It is worth its weight in gold and was simply a small taste of the richness of the programs that are being offered here.

Northern Hills Synagogue Religious School is a model school. All of you here are responsible for this successful effort in some major way. You should all feel very proud. In these days in which we count the omer it is appropriate to take a minute to reflect upon and count our blessings. For the students, parents, congregants, teachers, professional and administrative staff, these blessings are many. My very best wishes to each of you. As my own children would say after a job well done: "Ya done good!"

Yasher Koach. May you continue to go from strength to strength.

Wendy S. Light
National Education Consultant
Framework for Excellence
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism


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