The 12 young women in the Temima Class of 2017 received four letters of advice to take into the world after four years of high school: no and we.
Lori Kagan Schwarz, who was recognized during the graduation ceremony at Congregation Beth Jacob’s Heritage Hall on Thursday, June 15, as the 2017 honoree of the Richard & Jean Katz High School for Girls, told the graduates the power and importance of those two little words.
“I stand here in spite of the word no, and I am fulfilled and enriched by the impact of we,” she said.
Kagan Schwarz said you need at least one person in your life whom you can’t or don’t want to say no to. One of those people for her is Julie Silverman, Temima’s advancement director, who asked her two years ago to help the high school with strategic planning and board development, then asked her to be this year’s honoree.
“Lori’s involvement with Temima says something about what it really means to serve the Jewish community,” said Diana Cohen, a co-president of Temima. “She does not have any immediate personal connection to Temima. But when she learned about what we were trying to do and saw how she could help, she dove in with her full heart.”
Diving in helped Kagan Schwarz expand her “we,” her favorite pronoun.
Although Lynda Walker had introduced her to the high school about 10 years ago, she didn’t know many of the board members or feel much a part of the school two years ago, and she already had served as the president of two other day schools, the Davis Academy and the Weber School. Now she’s part of a group embracing initiatives to secure Temima’s future, such as a scholarship drive.
“We is what I really got out of this thing,” Kagan Schwarz said.
She advised the 12 graduates to approach their life plans just as the school board will use its strategic plan: as a guide to be adjusted continually along the way.
“I hope you find people you can’t say no to and that you try as often as you can to be part of the we,” she said.
They should try to follow Kagan Schwarz’s example, said Mark Satisky, who represented the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta at the ceremony. “Her intelligence, her determination and her compassion have allowed her to do such a huge amount for our community and to be such a wonderful leader.”
Temima has given the graduates the tools to be blessings for the community and the world “because this school’s reputation exceeds all schools of its type,” said Rabbi Ariel Shoshan, the father of one of the graduates and the son-in-law of Head of School Miriam Feldman. “Because of its first-rate Torah education and because of its first-rate general studies. And there is no such thing in this school as secular studies.”
After discussing Jacob’s Ladder and recalling that Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams’ dream was to have people call him the greatest hitter who ever lived when he walked down the street, Rabbi Shoshan said: “Where these young women walk, no one will say as individuals there walks anything. They’ll say that wherever you walk, there walks godliness, indivisible individuals standing for the mission of connection to the top of the ladder.”
Class of 2017
Meechal Danielle Lovett
Yael Meira Pollock
Tamara Avigayil Sawyer
Rachell Ora Shoshan
Nechama Liba Spotts