You may not know her name, but a major force behind the Solomon Schechter day schools is retiring in June. Dr. Elaine Shizgal Cohen, who for several years led the Schechter Day School Network, was honored at last month’s iJed Jewish day school conference for her work promoting and strengthening the Schechter schools as well as United Synagogue, which has housed the network.
A longtime educator and former head of school, Cohen led the 2011 rebranding of the association as the Schechter Day School Network and most recently led a strategic planning process that culminated in $2 million in grants to allow the network to expand its staff and enhance Schechter education.
Dr. Steven Lorch, president of the network board of directors, said that Cohen – despite serving as the organization’s solo professional staff – had “orchestrated a quiet revolution” on the day schools’ behalf. This includes expanding collaboration among institutions and working with other day school networks to establish a new tradition of joint North American Jewish Day School conferences. Cohen also administered and promoted a fellowship which, thanks to an endowment given to United Synagogue, prepares rabbis for day school leadership roles.