Posted on June 10th, 2014

Meet NATE Leaders: 10 Questions with Lori Daitch

Lori-Daitch-258x300What is your leadership role within NATE? 

I am the co-coordinator of the Operations side of leadership. Operations focuses on the day-to-day details in the running of NATE. The following teams fall under the Operations umbrella: Advocacy, Communications, Finance, Membership and Professional Learning.

What is it like to live in California where it never rains and the sun is always shining? 

Well, first of all, it does rain but not nearly enough. As a matter of fact, we are in a serious drought. And yes, it seems that the sun is always out on New Year’s Day when all of you are watching the Rose Parade, but I promise, it is not always out. I do confess I often have a major case of “the guilts” and find myself saying, “I’m sorry” before I tell people from other parts of the country that I am from The Santa Monica Synagogue.

It seems that you wear many hats in your job. Can you describe what you do in addition to running the school?
I think we all end up wearing many hats in our jobs. We are all event planners, travel agents and caterers. However, due to the size of my congregation, I do take on some other responsibilities that would possibly be done by an executive director. Each year I run our synagogue’s women’s retreat. This is truly a labor of love. I love giving our female congregants this weekend away where they can unwind, bond, be pampered and learn in a relaxing, informal environment. Another interesting part of my job is that I seem to have become the staff member who oversees our annual fundraiser. Did I mention I am the answering service? Yes, our synagogue emergency number rings to my cell phone. Thus I am often the first one to hear of a death or illness in the community. While these are not pleasant calls to get, the truth is I am grateful that I am able to be there for our members before immediately passing it on to the Rabbi.

What is your favorite part of your job? 

I think it is everything that takes place outside the confines of our building, such as retreats, field trips, events and, of course, traveling with our teens. I adore New York and being able to see it through the eyes of our youth each year is a joy each and every year. We also take our 10th graders to Washington, DC, and after all these years, I am still in awe when I listen to them lobby their representatives on the visit to Capitol Hill.

Who/What inspired you to go into Jewish Education?

When I was in 10th grade, my mother enrolled me in a program called Havurat Noar at Temple Judea in Tarzana, CA. I loved the class, the teacher and being with my friends. The problem was that it was actually a program for 9th graders. When I was sent to the then Principal’s office, she asked me if it bothered me that it was a program for 9th graders and that I was the only 10th grader. I said, “No, I love the class and am happy to be with my friends.” She replied, “Then go back to class.” So simple, yet so powerful. That Educator was Judy Aronson. Judy has since then been my mentor and friend. She has taught me about flexibility and has helped me to see my talents. That year in Havurat Noar led to 9 weeks in Israel followed by continued involvement in my synagogue, youth groups and working in the Religious School office. I also became a Havurat Noar teacher and counselor where I met some of my closest friends, many of whom are still in my life. Since then I have been fortunate to have worked my way to where I am now. I am blessed to have wonderful colleagues like Judy who continue to teach me.

OK, you’ve told us a lot about work and how you got there, now let’s get personal…..

Favorite Hobby?

Cooking and entertaining. I also love going to the theater, movies and traveling.

People in your life?

A wonderful, very close family that I adore. I am the youngest child of three. I have two older brothers, both of whom I am very close to. I am lucky enough to live about 15 minutes away from my mom who is awesome! Sadly, we lost my dad 10 years ago but I continue to live with wonderful memories and values he instilled in us. I am the Aunt to 4 nieces (ages, 22, 18, and 9 year old twins) and 1 nephew (11). I am also the proud godmother to Blake who lives in Philadelphia and Eliza who lives in Las Vegas. In addition, I have an incredible group of friends, each special in his or her own way.

What are you currently reading for fun?

I am reading a novel called Delicious! By Ruth Reichl. Ruth Reichl is known for being a restaurant critic for both The NY Times and The LA Times. She was also the editor for Gourmet Magazine. While this is a work of fiction (her first), I believe some of the story comes from her own life.

What are you reading for work?

The ARJE lead team just finished Relational Judaism by Ron Wolfson.

Any last things you want to share with us?

Well, I would love to put my ARJE Operations hat back on and invite any of you not currently involved in ARJE to think about getting involved in some way. I cannot begin to tell you what getting involved in ARJE did for me professionally. I have formed relationships with colleagues all over the country. I am able to apply what I learn as a ARJE lay leader to my own job and pass them on to my own synagogue lay leaders. It has elevated me professionally. Feel free to contact our volunteer coordinators Vanessa Ehrlich or Lynda Gutcheon for more information on how to get involved.