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Questions We’re Asking this Passover

With Passover coming up, I’ve been thinking a lot about the meaning of the word “Seder.” In our Gateways Haggadah, we learn that “Seder means ‘order’ in Hebrew. We call the Passover celebration a Seder because we follow a schedule and do everything in a particular order.” Many of us are cleaning and organizing our homes, taking everything out and holding it up to the light, attempting to establish a sense of order during this particularly disordered time. That’s exactly what we are doing right now at Gateways, through our strategic planning process that we embarked on these last couple of months and plan to conclude later this spring. We are examining everything we do, measuring each piece of our work against our mission to enable students with diverse learning needs to succeed in Jewish educational settings and participate meaningfully in Jewish life.

And in the spirit of our Passover tradition to ask questions at the Seder table, we are asking many questions during this process. We had a special opportunity to ask some of these questions during a fascinating and enlightening panel discussion featuring national experts in education and inclusion, which we hosted with our board members and staff in attendance. The questions we posed to this panel focused on understanding examples of successful partnerships and synergies on the local and national level, trends that might continue in the post-pandemic world, and how we could learn from organizations that have successfully made their missions everlasting even as philanthropic priorities shift. If you’d like to learn more about our panel, please email me.

Other questions we’ve been exploring include: When it comes to the ability to participate meaningfully in Jewish life, what are the greatest barriers facing children with special needs or disabilities and their families? What trends are relevant to those of us in the disability inclusion field? What does Gateways do best? As friends and supporters of Gateways, I hope you will share any other questions you think it’s important for us to explore during this time.

This strategic planning process will enable us to hone our focus on a bold future, to continue our role as leaders in the movement to ensure a meaningful Jewish education for all learners, and to reaffirm our commitment to the Gateways mission. I look forward to sharing the Strategic Plan with you when it is completed, and I welcome your participation as we tackle new challenges and pursue new opportunities on behalf of our community’s children.