For nearly fifty years, Politz Day School has been a vital and committed partner in the Cherry Hill Jewish community. Cherry Hill is populated by a wide spectrum of Jews who are dedicated to working together to strengthen local Jewish public life. While the makeup of the community has fluctuated over the years, there has always been a desire to acknowledge each other’s differences with mutual respect.
In creating a video for Politz, our challenge was how to communicate with such a broad audience. On the one hand, Politz is a community school with a religiously diverse student body. As such, our film needed to address and connect with a variety of families.
On the other hand, it was essential that we clearly represent Politz’s values as an Orthodox institution. As more and more new schools have opened in the greater Tri-state area, many of them have been contrasted with the long-standing institution of Politz. For students considering their options, trying to find the right fit, it needed to be clear that Politz Day School stood for an unwavering allegiance to Halachah.
When we began working together, Politz’s administration were uncertain how to deliver a message that fully encompassed their vision. Of late, they had begun to feel torn between the different elements that made up the Cherry Hill community. In trying to appeal to a new generation of prospects, they were concerned that they were losing touch with their core identity.
It was incredibly valuable to have an outside team tackling this problem. Since we were newcomers to Cherry Hill, we didn’t have expectations about Politz’s role in the community. We approached their mission statement with fresh eyes and were able to find a way forward as a result. Our concept was the simple truth: Politz Day School provided a welcoming environment in which kids from all different backgrounds could attain a superior Orthodox Jewish education. Instead of emphasizing Politz’s diversity or devotion, we would boldly celebrate both, as values that worked together and strengthened each other.
Working alongside Celeste Marcus, we rewrote the mission statement as a poem, which was recited with earnestness and enthusiasm by a slew of students and staff. The diversity among this group, as well as their sense of unity and mutual respect, were plain to see. We also captured a variety of classroom and extracurricular activities to enhance and support this strong rhetorical center. Toward the end, we incorporated a montage that flashed between students’ many different kippot and hairstyles, a snappy visual that cleverly summed up our theme of diversity. We then moved around to the front, showing the smiles on every single face.
This video was joyful, exciting, eloquent — and perfectly expressed Politz’s identity. In fact, the process of creating it helped Politz think critically about their goals and prepare to pursue them with more resolve than ever. Community members were moved to share the link, and the experience, across Cherry Hill.
“Sometimes when you create gala videos,” explained Alisha Abboudi, Director of Philanthropy at Politz, “you over-inflate who you are and highlight the things you want to be more true … it winds up looking and feeling fake. This video feels 100% authentic.”
Furthermore, it has the broad appeal that Politz will need at donor meetings, in recruitment, and even just welcoming people to the community. At a recent fundraising event in cooperation with Charidy.com, Politz used the film to reaffirm their relationships in the community and raised more than half a million dollars in 24 hours, an unheard of 400% increase (no, that’s not a typo) over the previous year’s efforts.
“The campaign really brought people together,” Alisha said. “And we believe the video had a lot to do with that… We’ve had inquiries from all over the country… ‘Whose idea was that? Who wrote the script? Who made your video?”
We couldn’t be more proud of our role in such a resounding success.