Rachael Vegas attended Levey Day School from Kindergarten through 4th grade, finishing in 1985. She went on to middle school at Waynflete and then Deering High School. She studied International Relations at Tufts University, and then went to work for Hannaford Bros. Co as a retail management trainee. After pursuing an MBA from UNC-Chapel Hill she and her husband, John, moved to Minneapolis where she went to work for Target, and is currently a Vice-President at Target in merchandising. She has two daughters, Lauren and Juliana, 10 and 7 years old. They are in 5th and 2nd grade at Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School in St. Louis Park, MN, where Rachael serves as co-President.
Levey Day School: What is your fondest memory of your time at Levey?
Rachael Vegas: My fondest memory from Levey was of my teachers: Christine Woodward and Barbara Labranche, and my best friend there, Jennifer Borelli (now Coughlin). As I help my children with their Hebrew and Judaics homework, I am grateful for the outstanding education I received at Levey. I have amazingly retained all that I learned through 4th grade and have found myself learning with my 5th grader to get to the next level!
Levey: What is special to you about Maine’s Jewish Community and growing up Jewish in Maine?
RV: Maine has a relatively small Jewish community, but it is close knit. Everyone knows everyone and there is solidarity in this familiarity. I find that people in larger cities don’t appreciate what they have. They are always looking to the next larger city and failing to see the strength of the community in front of them. I was ‘different’ being Jewish in Maine, but my children fit right into our neighborhood and social life in Minneapolis. Being a minority gives you a strong sense of ‘self.’
Levey: What does being a leader in the Jewish Community mean to you? Why do you do it?
RV: I am very active in the Minneapolis Jewish Community. I joined the Development Committee at my children’s day school when my oldest was in kindergarten. From there, I became a board member and VP of Development. This past year, I was elected Co-President of the board of directors for the school. We are fortunate to have an outstanding day school that goes through 8th grade. Simultaneously, I am on the board of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation. Two years ago, I had the fortune to be nominated for the Harry Kay Leadership program in Minneapolis/St. Paul. It was an amazing program that sought to select leaders in the community and educate them on the local and international needs and organizations that serve the Jewish People. The 2 year program culminated in a trip to Kiev and Israel. It was an amazing experience and helped inform my leadership objectives in the community and beyond. The Jewish communities around this country are at a significant inflection point. Declining enrollment trends in day schools is very concerning to me. They are foundational to the health of future Jewish communities. I am involved because I am passionate about helping to change these trends and share the experience I have had with my family.
Levey: If you had one piece of advice for fellow parents, what would it be?
RV: There are three things that have the greatest impact on our children identifying themselves as Jewish and raising Jewish children: 1. Attending day school 2. Attending jewish camp 3. Celebrating Shabbat in the home each week. If you do nothing else to instill Jewish identity in your children… do these three things.