The Raymond and Ruth Perelman Jewish Day School's 50th anniversary celebration turned out to be the largest fundraising event in its history, netting the institution roughly $4 million.
"We are trying to reach the community with the message that day schools are part of the normal scene of American life, and more and more in the community are supporting us," said Jay Leberman, head of school for the Perelman system.
More than 500 people attended the June 4 event at Har Zion Temple in Penn Valley. Matthew and Liz Kamens, whose daughter attends the Stern Center elementary school in Wynnewood, were the evenings honorees.
According to Leberman, attendees pledged a total of $1.35 million. In addition, longtime donors Sidney and Caroline Kimmel, and Raymond and Ruth Perelman each announced that they would match the amount, bringing the total to excess of $4 million. Last year's dinner failed to raise $1 million.
Leberman said it's too soon to tell how the money would be spent, but that the school – comprising the Stern Center, the Forman Center and Saligman Middle School in Elkins Park, and the Bucks County Center which is closing at the end of the term – is always looking to beef up its endowment. It could use more money for offering tuition assistance, currently about 20 percent of the operation budget, as well as hiring more curriculum and subject specialists, he said.
"We want to address the growing [financial] needs of the middle class," said Leberman. That's because, he added, the school realizes the additional need of creating new generations of committed Jews and Jewish leaders.
Earlier this year, the school's board of directors voted to close its Richboro operation. Leberman said that despite the influx of funds, the board has no plans to reconsider that decision.