Inspiring Evening Celebrating Jewish Education

Some 325 educators, community members, friends and lay leaders gathered on Sunday, December 8 to make this year’s 90th ATT celebration in inspiring evening celebrating Jewish education in Chicago.

The dinner came on the heels of planning a new, three-year strategic plan and an unprecedented new endowment to the ATT. Rabbi Mordechai Raizman, Executive Director of Operations, says, “This is an exciting time as we concluded an extensive and thorough look to where we are as an organization and where we are going into the future. Led by our Consultant Debra Nathashon over the last 18 months, we have created and started the implementation of a strategic plan for the next few years to better serve the day school community.”

The ATT was humbled and grateful to recognize Northwest Home for the Aged (NWHA) and Park Plaza with the Crain Maling Pillar of Education Award. ATT was selected among Chicago-area education organizations to receive multi-year grants from NWHA and Park Plaza, whose board has embarked on a groundbreaking, cross generational effort totaling $11 million to support and sustain Jewish day school education across the Chicago Jewish community. This unprecedented multi-year gift builds on NWHA’s ethos of service to the Chicago Jewish community for more than 75 years and its mission of providing high quality housing for Jewish seniors. NWHA’s flagship facility is Park Plaza, an independent living community located on the far north side of Chicago.

After deep consideration, the NWHA board devised a plan to allocate $11 million in funding over a five-year period to three recipients: The Associated Talmud Torahs’ REACH program, Solomon Schechter Day School of Metropolitan Chicago (SSDS) and Chicago Jewish Day School (CJDS). This funding, structured as endowments, will maximize each institution’s impact and ensure their long-term sustainability.

A highlight of the evening’s program was honoring three winners of the the ATT’s 10th Annual Hartman Family Foundation Educator of the Year Awards: Mrs. Sari Kravitt (Hillel Torah North Suburban Day School) whose top award was sponsored in memory of Mrs. Gayle Anne Herwitz, Mrs. Betty Hainsfurther (Arie Crown Hebrew Day School), and Miss Breindy Miller (Joan Dachs Bais Yaakov Elementary School).

Rabbi Avrohom Moller introduced the awards saying, “Robert and Debbie Hartman’s noble intention is to express gratitude to those teachers who dedicate themselves with heart and soul to the most meaningful career one can choose; the passing of our heritage to the next generation and the building of young students into successful people.”

Mrs. Kravitt describes in the video how she once attended the dinner to support a colleague who won the award in a past year and was inspired to become the kind of educator who would one day win the same award. This was extraordinary proof of the importance of the power of this generous Hartman Award that inspires our community’s educators to strive for higher goals and to reward them when they do.

The award and selection process are designed to highlight the superlative and innovative efforts of our educators. The ATT and Hartman Family Foundation hope that through the awarding of this prize not only three of the most outstanding teachers in Chicago are recognized, but the award also further elevates and ennobles the entire profession in the eyes of our community.

Awards are selected by a committee of educational consultants and community members. Selection criteria for the Educator Award include exceptional instructional skills in a nurturing environment, commitment to one’s students’ success, superior communication skills with parents, students, and peers, commitment to continued professional development, and contributions to one’s school’s learning community.

Thank you to the ATT staff and lay leadership who made this year’s annual dinner such a success.