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The Boiling Point

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$1.1 million later, Fred Toczek completes his first year as board president

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BUSY: Mr. Toczek juggles working for Shalhevet, managing clients at his law firm, and spending time with his family.

BUSY: Mr. Toczek juggles working for Shalhevet, managing clients at his law firm, and spending time with his family.

BP Photo by Eva Suissa

BP Photo by Eva Suissa

BUSY: Mr. Toczek juggles working for Shalhevet, managing clients at his law firm, and spending time with his family.

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By Eva Suissa, Opinion Editor

With determination honed from 20 years of training in Krav Maga, Shalhevet’s new board president Fred Toczek worked to raise $1.1 million this year and to increase parent involvement in the school.

Mr. Toczek practices krav maga– a form of self defense developed by the Israeli Army — at a studio in West Los Angeles.

“It definitely helps tough you up for this position,” Mr. Toczek said. “Beyond that, I don’t know if it directly correlates.”

Still, he has needed some toughness and perseverance for the job. Unlike immediate past board president Larry Gill who was involved in selling, buying and financing Shalhevet’s new building, Mr. Toczek needs to raise money for change that is less dramatic, or at least less visible.

“When Fred comes in, the challenges are not the challenges of a school in crisis, but the challenges of success,” said Mr. Gill in an interview. “How do you avoid resting on your laurels? How do you take success and build it into more success? How do you have the right amount of humility in the community?”

In his first year, which ends this month, Mr. Toczek changed the way the school raises funds by encouraging donors to make one significant donation in the beginning of the year instead of many donations all year long. The $1.1 million he raised is for the school’s regular budget, including faculty, scholarships, the senior Poland-Israel Experience, security and after-school programs.

He would like to raise $200,000 more by the end of the summer, and will try to do so at the school gala on June 14, honoring departing Dean of Students Mr. Jason Feld and his wife, Rebecca.

Remaining challenges, officials said, include increasing the school’s endowment for scholarship students and keeping quality faculty.

Head of School Rabbi Ari Segal said the endowment currently stands at $4 million, of which Mr. Toczek wasn’t sure how much he helped raise.

During his term as president, Mr. Toczek hopes to raise parental involvement as well as funds, and also to reach out to people not directly involved with the school.

“One of my biggest goals is to get much wider parental and communal participation in the school,” Mr. Toczek told the Boiling Point, “both in terms of fundraising and involvement on committees and on school related projects.”

Mr. Toczek is the father of one Shalhevet alumnus, one current student, and one hoped-for future student. Jacob graduated in 2015, Sadie has just finished 10th grade, and Ella is a 7th grader at Gindi-Maimonides Academy; Mr. Toczek was president of the Maimonides board for two years, though he couldn’t recall the exact dates of his term.

Sadie said her dad manages his time well.

“He’s a really hard worker so he finishes all his work at home,” said Sadie. “It hasn’t affected our relationship or the time I see him or spend with him at all.”

Mr. Toczek usually wakes up around six, prays at B’nai David or at home, and drives his kids and their carpools to school. Then he’ll go to his law firm, where he works with actors, directors, producers, and writers by negotiating their entertainment-related deals. He says he gets plenty of work done for Shalhevet there through conference calls and emails.

He works for the school, he says, in order to support Jewish education in general and Shalhevet in particular.

“To me, it’s the greatest guarantor of Jewish continuity, and … an important component to giving kids the tools to live a really full and proud Jewish life” Mr. Toczek said.  

“Shalhevet really is a place where everyone could find his or her voice; everyone can find his or her connection to Yiddishkeit and can really come into his or her own.”

Perhaps Krav Maga helps him manage it all.

“It’s an amazing relief, and it’s really practical,” he said.

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Shalhevet news online: When we know it, you'll know it
$1.1 million later, Fred Toczek completes his first year as board president