“The world our children will inherit tomorrow is born in the schools we build today.”
– Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Gisela & Daniel Ades
While many large philanthropic projects have ambitious goals of “changing the world,” JLA grew out of a much humbler objective: to instill a sense of identity and community in our most successful Jewish children. Miami is home to many of the most successful Jewish day schools in the country, small and large, Pluralistic and Orthodox, dotted across many of our neighborhoods. Yet, as children reach middle school, we often lose the most ambitious of them to elite secular private schools or to the public school system.
More worryingly, many of these children graduate and go on to top universities with a successful academic track record, but without a sense of purpose and belonging that we believe is so important in leading a meaningful and fulfilling Jewish life.
As we looked into addressing this challenge, we explored many alternatives. They ranged from developing improved teacher training in our current schools, to developing grants for performance-based pay for Day School teachers. We considered significantly increasing financial aid for students that agreed to “give back” to the community. We even attempted to help improve board governance and school culture at a micro-level.
Ultimately, and after almost a decade of trying to address the issue, we concluded that the problem did not lie within our current Day Schools. In fact, many of our schools are excellent at meeting the needs of most of our community. That is why we call them community schools: they try to provide a space for everyone, from the struggling child to the academic prodigy, while keeping tuition as affordable as possible. They teach Judaism and do an enviable job in keeping our community tight.
Yet, by trying to cater to as wide of a population as possible, we (as a community) struggle to truly meet the needs of those few that wish, or can, achieve more. We struggle because the leading secular schools can be selective in choosing their student body, and a Jewish community school cannot. We struggle, because the leading secular schools can charge the true cost of an elite education to the vast majority of their student population, and a Jewish community school cannot. In fact, our success in ensuring that no Jewish kid is left without the opportunity of a Jewish education is precisely why we are unable to offer an exceptionally rigorous experience to the few that would like one.
We therefore decided that the only way to solve this problem was to start from scratch and develop a bold vision for a new Jewish Day School that would challenge our most ambitious students academically while inspiring them to live a life of service to others. A school that would recruit the absolute best teachers. That would support them and compensate them in ways that few schools can. A school housed on a campus that would be better than some top-tier universities. One that would accept that we would not be everything to everyone, and therefore could be selective in admitting our student body. And so JLA started to take shape: a small , state-of-the art institution that will be focused on academics, Judaism, integrity and community service.
Understanding that providing all the above would be expensive, we committed from day one to make this a “need-blind” institution. That is, the ability to pay will not be a consideration in the admissions process, and the tuition of any child that is accepted will be reflective of their families’ ability to pay. Hopefully that will bring a socio-economic diversity to our student body that is more reflective of our overall population than that of traditional private schools.
We also hope to avoid many of the common pitfalls of communal Jewish institutions. JLA will have no broad capital campaign. Our board was selected strictly on their ability to steer the organization towards a sustainable future in accordance with our by-laws. They were selected because of the diversity of opinions and expertise they provide, and not because of their financial abilities. The school will carry no debt, and our campus will be 100% paid for by the time the school opens.
But most importantly, our objective is not to create a “Jewish version” of our top secular schools. Yes, we are looking for strong academics. But there is more than SAT scores and AP classes to developing a well-rounded Jewish young adult ready to go into demanding colleges. We will be devoting meaningful time to teaching the core tenets of Judaism. Our students are expected to develop a strong identity with the State of Israel, and every student, from 8th grade through graduation, will spend close to 4 weeks every year immersed in an integrated curriculum in Israel focused on Hebrew Language, Judaics, and contemporary Israeli culture, politics, and society. They will also, during the year, be involved in true community service on a regular basis throughout their entire stay at JLA. Being part of our community is a critical part of who we are, and who we want our students to be.
The dream of graduating 45 of our most talented children every year with an outstanding academic education, a strong sense of belonging to our past, and a desire to build a better future has encouraged us to devote meaningful resources to making this a reality. We are sure that challenges will be numerous, and it won’t be an easy road. All that we can do is work hard and never settle for anything less than the best. The best teachers, the best campus, the best students. And we are confident that with the help of Hashem, this dream will become a reality. We hope you will be part of it.
Gisela & Daniel Ades
Gisela & Daniel Ades
Daniel & Gisela have been involved philanthropically with the Jewish community for almost two decades. They have always believed that one should never have to choose between academic excellence and a Jewish education. The Jewish Leadership Academy is the product of their commitment to a more ethical, engaged and academically motivated Jewish youth.
Originally from Brazil, both Gisela and Daniel hold a Bachelor’s degree from Tufts University, where they first met. Gisela then pursued a J.D. from University of Miami, and practices as an immigration attorney. Daniel has a Masters of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School and is a partner at Kawa Capital Management.
Daniel Ades is the Founder and Managing Partner of Kawa Capital. Daniel has been responsible for overseeing the firm’s investment decisions since inception in 2007, and continues to lead the firm to this day. He has a B.A. in Economics and International Relations from Tufts University, and a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD) from The Fletcher School, with a focus on economic development. He has been a board member at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation for over a decade, was on AIPAC’s National Leadership Council and has spearheaded several community projects, including starting ParnossahWorks Miami in conjunction with the Miami Jewish Federation. He is passionate about Jewish education and the State of Israel. An avid sailor, he was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil and has been living in Miami with his wife and three children since 2003.
Gisela graduated Tufts University in 2005 with a BA in International Relations and Economics, and later received her J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law. Having worked in the Secretariat of Education of Sao Paulo early in her career, she was focused on empowering youth leaders to form and restructure student councils in public schools.
While in law school, Gisela worked at the University of Miami Immigration Clinic, helping low-income clients with their immigration needs. She continued in private practice as an immigration attorney for the next 10 years, helping clients from across the world to move and start a new life in the United States.
Gisela has also been involved with several community organizations. Together with her husband Daniel, they founded ParnossahWorks (now called JWorks), which assists members of the community in finding meaningful employment. She also served as a member of the Women’s Impact Initiative for three years, and is currently a member of the Hebrew Free Loan Committee.
Gisela lives in Miami with her husband Daniel and their three children.
Since establishing J Group Events in 2005, Jassi has built a reputation for creating events that are both visually stunning and extravagantly fun. Inspired by travels abroad, fashion, theatre, art, music, and architecture, she has truly refined her keen eye for design and passion for perfect details.
Jassi has worked with over 100 clients, from Dior to The PAMM to Cristian Lacroix to Cartier to Maria Sharapova. She has produced the MAM Ball, various Art Basel events, Galas and Fundraisers, as well as global destination weddings.
J Group Events have been featured in highly-recognized publications such as Grace Ormonde Wedding Style, Brides, Martha Stewart Weddings, Haute Living, Inside Weddings, The Wall Street Journal, and Architectural Digest Mexico.
Jassi proudly serves on the executive board of JCS South Florida and volunteers her time to WIZO, Scheck Hillel Community School, and the Blossom Project. She currently resides in Miami with her husband and three amazing kids.
Isaac “Ike” K. Fisher grew up in Hollywood, Florida. He came to live and work in Miami after graduating from the University of Florida College of Law, previously receiving his undergraduate education at The George Washington University, Washington D.C.
Mr. Fisher is a real estate investor and a principal of Capital Realty Services, Inc., a diversified real estate company providing management, leasing, financing, sales and consulting services for commercial investments. He has been a partner in commercial real estate with Robert G. Berrin through Capital Realty since 1988.
Ike is active in Jewish philanthropies and other national and community charitable organizations. He currently serves as an emeritus member of the national Board of Directors of AIPAC and is the Chair of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.
He resides in Miami, Florida and Tel Aviv, Israel. His daughter Rachel is a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin and is now a doula practicing in South Florida, while his son Cobi recently completed his service as a combat soldier (Nahal Brigade) in the Israel Defense Forces. His life partner is Lourdes Suarez, who has four adult children; Marissa, a lawyer, Katrina, a doctor, Max, and Zach, both software engineers.
Raised by a mother who was an accomplished psychologist and a father who is considered one of Israel’s most revered public educators, excellence in education and public service have always been core values in Nir’s life.
He is the co-founder of NR Investments, a real estate development firm established in 2001 dedicated to building communities and leading the way in creative thinking in the often overlooked sector of workforce housing. Prior to forming NR, Nir was the CEO of TiS America, a publicly traded software house based in Israel.
Nir and his wife Amy have three children, each born in a different country and all (still) settled in Miami with a strong connection to Israel.
A veteran of the hotel industry, Joao Woiler is the founder of CL Hotels and co-founder of Cambridge Landmark through which he has acquired and asset managed seven hotels in the US, with over 2,850 hotel rooms under different Marriott, Hyatt and IHG flags.
Joao began his career as an attorney and served as the Managing Partner of the law firm Woiler & Contin Advogados in Sao Paulo for over ten years, executing corporate and real estate transactions. He has served as a Board member of the World Trade Center Sao Paulo for 13 years and has been the investors’ relations executive for Hauscenter S/A.
Joao holds an MBA from the MIT Management Sloan School and a JD from University of Sao Paulo.
To cultivate the Jewish leaders of tomorrow, we need leaders today willing to invest in an endowment that will allow JLA to exist in perpetuity.