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The Abraham Joshua Heschel School is delighted to honor Diane and David Hess at its annual Benefit Dinner on Thursday, May 24, 2018, at Pier Sixty, Chelsea Piers. Since joining the community in 2006, Diane and David have consistently dedicated their time to the school in multiple leadership roles. For their family, Heschel has not only provided a meaningful education through all four divisions, but also a treasured community. The couple has three children: Jacob is currently in Grade 9, Ethan is in Grade 6, and Margot is in Grade 3.

As it has for so many families, Heschel offered Diane and David an environment that felt right for two people from different religious backgrounds. Diane grew up in a traditional Conservative household in Eastchester, New York, and attended the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester before moving to Fieldston for high school. David's Jewish identity was more tied to being the son and grandson of Holocaust survivors. Raised in a Reform home, he is a product of public schools in Pittsford, New York. The couple met at the University of Pennsylvania.

When it came time to send their oldest child to nursery, they were set on Jewish day school. "It was such a formative element of my childhood and I wanted the same experience for our children," Diane explains. Adds David, "the only question was which school would feel right to us both." It was clear from their first visit to the West 89th Street building that they had found what they were looking for. "We felt immediately that it was a place where our children would receive a strong secular and Jewish education and that it would be a community for our family," says Diane."We cancelled the other tours," David recalls.

In their 12 years at Heschel, Diane and David have seen the school grow meaningfully without losing its commitment to the core values that won them over. They always have been impressed with the experiential focus of the curriculum, as well as the emphasis on the whole child. "Heschel has sparked a curiosity in our children and has taught them to become critical thinkers," Diane says. Heschel's special traditions, from the Publishing Party to the Humash Ceremony and Tefillah B'yahad, have left an indelible impact on the family. "Some of our fondest memories have taken place at school," Diane says. For his part, David didn't anticipate how important the school would be for his own Jewish education and connection to Israel, which he visited for the first time in 2015.

Diane started her volunteer work at the school through the Parents' Association, as a class parent and liaison representative, and then chaired the Benefit Dinner from 2010 to 2016. A highlight was the 2013 Dinner honoring Heschel's faculty, staff and administration. "It reflected our mission at the highest level," Diane says. As co-chair of Hesedpalooza, she also was instrumental in evolving the annual Book Fair into a school-wide celebration of service. Here, she worked to create a fun and meaningful day integrating all of the school's divisions. "It was a real team effort, with everyone working towards a common goal," she explains.

David was a member of the Fall Campaign Committee in 2010 and 2011, and then served as Chair of the Campaign from 2012 to 2014. "Fundraising is a fact of life at a private school like Heschel," David says. "What is always inspiring is not just that people give, but that they want to give." David joined the Heschel Board of Trustees in 2014 and currently serves on the Executive Committee. He notes that he is always heartened by "the thought and care that goes into every decision the Trustees make."

David is a partner at Centerview Partners, a New York-based investment bank. He advises large technology companies on mergers and other financial and strategic matters. Diane is a freelance journalist and regularly writes for local and national publications.

Diane and David are grateful that Heschel has fostered their children's intellectual growth and instilled in them a love of Judaism, while also playing a central role in the family's life. "It is a second home not only to our children but to all of us," David says. "The friendships we've built and the community we feel privileged to be a part of are what make Heschel dear to our family."

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