The iCenter: The Landing Page – An Educator’s Launch Kit

The United States, Russia, and China have all landed spacecrafts on the moon. Soon humanity will add a fourth country to that list: Israel.

On February 21, SpaceIL launched Beresheet, an unmanned spacecraft, onboard an American SpaceX rocket. It will be the first non-governmental spacecraft to land on the moon. As Beresheet launches into orbit, so does a new era of pride and wonder for the Jewish people and the world.

The iCenter—the North American educational partner of SpaceIL—released The Landing Page – An Educator’s Launch Kit to help people engage with this historic moment. The Launch Kit, designed for use by parents and educators, includes STEM activities, Hebrew materials, stories, videos, Moon Party Spotify playlists, and more. Join The iCenter for 30-minute webinars in March to become familiar with the resources and their potential uses. REGISTER HERE.

The story of SpaceIL is one that inspires. Meaningful Israel education is organic, exciting, and resonant. It emphasizes people and their interests. It is also global, setting Israel within a context of universal human narratives. Equally necessary are great stories and events that inspire and invite this generation to see themselves as part of the ongoing life of the land and people of Israel.

This achievement—8 years in the making—taps into our imagination, curiosity, and wonder—and blends STEM with Israel in a monumental way. And it does all of this in the context of an historic quest to reach for the stars.

The Wexner Field Fellowship Third Class of Fellows

The Wexner Foundation has more than 30 years of experience developing excellence in Jewish professionals and volunteer leaders in North America. To address the changing needs in the field of Jewish professional leadership, the Wexner Field Fellowship was created in 2013 in partnership with the Jim Joseph Foundation to focus on developing promising Jewish professionals’ leadership skills while enveloping them in a rich network of Jewish professionals. Wexner Field Fellows engage in a diverse, cohort-based leadership learning program. Through in-person, intensive conferences and virtual meetings, Wexner Field Fellows are exposed to Jewish educational and professional growth opportunities while addressing their unique needs of career and personal progress.

The Wexner Foundation is proud to announce its newest class of Wexner Field Fellows. Fellows were selected based on their past accomplishments, current motivation and engagement, and the exceptional attributes they will contribute to the cohort of 15 Jewish professionals of which they will be a part.


Having the opportunity through the Wexner Field Fellowship Institutes to learn in partnership with rising Jewish leaders from across North America has been invaluable to me. I have gained tremendous insights into my work, fresh perspectives and relationships that I expect will last a lifetime.
– Elana Wien (Class 2), Vice President, Center for Designed Philanthropy at the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles

As part of this three-year intensive professional development program, Wexner Field Fellows:

  • Become part of a selective cohort of lifelong professional learners.
  • Learn with amazing leadership teachers and Jewish educators.
  • Receive one-on-one professional coaching and Jewish learning, along with access to funds toward customized professional development opportunities.
  • Become part of The Wexner Foundation’s network of 3,000 professional and volunteer leaders in the North American Jewish Community and in Israel.
  • Develop a nuanced appreciation for the diversity of the North American Jewish community.
  • Focus on developing strengths in adaptive leadership, storytelling, difficult conversations, negotiation and other crucial leadership skills.

One of the best of many exceptional components of the Wexner field fellowship has been my one on one study with a stellar Jewish educator…I have become more confident in the depth of my own Jewish knowledge and understanding, and have been able to apply this in my own professional work at JTS, training leaders who serve in senior roles within Jewish education.
– Mark Young (Class 1) Managing Director, Leadership Commons, The William Davidson School of JTS

The Wexner Foundation, also in partnership with the Foundation, invests in Field Fellows for the rest of their careers through continuing interaction and alumni programming, including annual Alumni Institutes and a Mentorship program. As with the first two cohorts of Field Fellows, members of Class 3 are all dynamic Jewish professionals at pivotal moments in their careers. Fellows work in Jewish federations, summer camps, advocacy and social justice organizations, day and supplementary schools, national organizations and Jewish social start-ups across North America.

By investing in exceptional early-to-mid-career professionals, the Wexner Field Fellowship will help its participants to use Jewish knowledge to enhance their work, to think strategically about projects from conception to implementation and to finetune their leadership skills and ability to be powerful change agents in the communities they serve. Investing in leadership excellence is an investment in a thriving Jewish world.

The Yiddish Book Center’s Great Jewish Books Teacher Seminar

The Yiddish Book Center’s Great Jewish Books Teacher Summer Seminar offers teachers at Jewish middle and high schools the opportunity to enrich their curricula with materials that reflect the breadth and depth of modern Jewish literature. The four-week seminar takes place at the Yiddish Book Center’s Amherst, Massachusetts home, an inspiring environment filled with exhibits on Jewish history and culture and a vast collection of Yiddish books.

Apply Now for the Seminar July 7 – August 2

While in Amherst, participants survey modern Jewish literature from the Enlightenment to the present day, studying with leading scholars in the field. The survey includes writers from Israel, the United States, and throughout the Diaspora writing in Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, English, and other languages. (All non-English texts are provided in English translation.) Along the way, participants read works of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction by writers such as Sholem Aleichem, Gertrude Stein, Paul Celan, Dvora Baron, Isaac Babel, Franz Kafka, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Adrienne Rich, and Cynthia Ozick.

In addition to studying and discussing texts, each participant develops a set of teaching materials to be shared on the Yiddish Book Center’s Teacher Resources website. And as part of the seminar, participants  attend a conference on Jewish literature pedagogy, in which they share teaching practices and learn from other experienced teachers.

After the seminar is over, participants stay connected with one another throughout the school year, as they continue to develop new approaches for incorporating modern Jewish literature into their classrooms.

Thank you so much for allowing me the space to grow myself as Jewish educator and giving a whole new canon to pull from while putting together my syllabi.
Participant in the 2018 Teacher Seminar

Each teacher accepted to the program receives a stipend of $3,000, as well as room and board for the duration of the seminar. The Jim Joseph Foundation is a funder of the Yiddish Book Center.

Prizmah Working Towards a Vibrant Future for Jewish Day Schools

Jewish day schools fundamentally strengthen the trajectory of Jewish knowledge, identity, community, and leadership. This is a core principle guiding Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools as it begins to implement its new five-year strategic plan, B’Yachad: Towards a Vibrant Future for Jewish Day Schools. The plan—which builds on Prizmah’s past learnings, extensive stakeholder engagement, and a research deep-dive—details the organization’s vision of a thriving, passionate, engaged, and committed network of Jewish day schools that shape our community for generations to come. Prizmah will help unlock the potential of the North American Jewish day schools through strategic investment in four key areas: Deepen Talent, Catalyze Resources, Accelerate Innovation, and Network to Learn.

With this investment, Jewish day schools will be part of a field in which:

  • students graduate exceptionally well-equipped with the academic and social-emotional strengths that enable them to pursue their dreams;
  • graduates’ Jewish identities are deeply enriched to last a lifetime;
  • families are excited to enroll;
  • talented individuals are drawn to the school’s career offerings; and
  • schools have the sustainable resources they need to grow.

Core to Prizmah’s success—and the success of Jewish day schools, educators, leaders, and students—is the recognition that schools and communities are inherently linked. Together, they form a virtuous cycle, wherein investments in the key aspects of thriving Jewish day schools reinforce and embolden one another. Prizmah supports North American Jewish day schools and communities of all sizes and denominations to tackle the diverse needs and challenges of day schools on their path to success. This vision embraces the passion of schools’ leaders and educators, as well as the educational and philosophical differences of schools, which Prizmah serves according to their individual needs.

Leadership is a space filled with risk taking, vulnerabilities, and very often loneliness. Being part of Prizmah’s leadership training gave me a foundation that I know will propel me forward on my professional journey, as well as a community and support system I can rely on to work through any aspect of leadership.

While striving for vibrancy, Jewish day schools also face significant challenges. The changing academic, social, and technological needs of today’s youth create need and opportunity to re-think education—just as the demographics, dynamics, and institutions of Jewish communities are also changing. As the cost of education rises and many incomes stagnate, the struggle to provide an affordable Jewish education to all who want it grows, leading to challenges in enrollment. Prizmah creates the space and environments for days schools to explore these challenges and seek solutions together.

As a Head of School from a small community, it can be hard to take a moment to just…breathe. With the mounting pressures of finances, development, assessments, admissions, and H.R. how many moments do we get to learn and problem solve with our peers? Our time at Prizmah’s Small School Retreat and the continued connections after give us the tools for self-care and school-care. – HEAD OF SCHOOL

Prizmah believes that educating Jewish youth is the most important investment to make in their future—as Jews, and as active contributors to society—and in the future of the Jewish community. Vibrant Jewish day schools inspire and nurture young people, prepare them for remarkable and meaningful lives, and enable them to truly thrive. Prizmah works every day to support these schools and their leaders, laying the foundation so that the Jewish community will be empowered and fueled by stronger voices, identities, values, and leadership.

The Jim Joseph Foundation is one of many supporters of Prizmah.

Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative

Teens today are impacted by monumental sociological forces and challenges. With this understanding, and powered by research and data, the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative develops, nurtures, and scales innovative new approaches to teen engagement. In this unprecedented collaboration of national and local funders, ten participating communities are united by a paradigm shift in the approach to this work that demands that teen educators and leaders now ask, “how can our work help this teen thrive as a human being in today’s complex and challenging world?”

The Funder Collaborative and its communities look to answer this question every day. They come together—virtually and in person—to share lessons learned with each other and to identify the most relevant lessons to share with others. Recently, 20 implementers and professional development professionals came together in Austin, TX for three days. They wanted to learn directly from that dynamic city, a hotbed of creativity and entrepreneurship. Participants had a private workshop with the founder of Storybar to learn what makes a great story and to learn how they can integrate storytelling into their work. The Collaborative also met with Shalom Austin to hear about Jewish life in Austin and to share highlights about the experiences of the ten communities, so that their learnings go beyond the Collaborative.

What I value most about the Implementer Convening’s is the opportunity to network with my fellow Implementers. The relationships, both personal and professional, we are forming because of the opportunities we are given to get together are crucial to the success of our work, in my opinion. Because of the convenings we are more than a group of implementers we are a community.  No matter the location, our time together always inspires and motivates me to take our learnings and try new strategies in San Diego. Out of all the learnings I took away from Austin, I am most excited to experiment with influencers and campaigns to drive traction and awareness to the awesome work we are doing!
– Rebecka Handler, Director of the San Diego Jewish Teen Initiative

While the communities each have unique characteristics and singular elements of their engagement efforts, certain trends are prevalent across all the initiatives and highlight their important work:

  1. Communities put teens in the driver’s seat of their own experiences because today’s teens are comfortable finding and using their voice to make change. Funder Collaborative community initiatives enable teens to architect their own journeys in a variety ways: by creating programming for their peers, in reaching out to their friends to make sure they’re aware of opportunities, and even making decisions about major grants for teen programming.
  2. Discovery is a critical part of engagement. Teens, parents and even Jewish professionals say it’s difficult to find out about local Jewish opportunities. By developing online portals and searchable digital databases, the communities are amplifying the marketing power of all local organizations who post their events, and creating genuine value for the community.
  3. Success means building and nurturing an ecosystem. The Funder Collaborative communities see first-hand that a dynamic ecosystem surrounds the teens themselves: community partners, supervisors, lay leaders, professionals and parents all directly and indirectly impact teen engagement. Especially in their the early teen years, parents require targeted marketing and outreach. Critically, the teen initiatives recognize that parents themselves often seek a supportive community to support their parenting, and many of the initiatives now offer workshops and community-building activities for parents.
  4. Creating lasting change requires skilled and capable educators. After uniting around a new paradigm of teen-centric engagement, the initiatives quickly understood that developing a cadre of knowledgeable and capable educators and youth professionals would be critical to achieving their desired outcomes.
  5. Wellness is fundamental to achieving positive outcomes for teens. Focusing on the whole teen, including their mental health and overall wellness, is emerging as foundational to effective Jewish teen education and engagement. Several communities offer workshops or conferences on adolescent development and family systems, deeper understanding of the social forces impacting teens today, and specialized training for educators in youth mental health first aid. By addressing and elevating teen wellness, Funder Collaborative communities are pioneering a new, holistic view of engagement work, with healthy, balanced and resilient teens at the center.

More than five years ago, the ten communities and funders came together to co-invest in teen engagement efforts that would be informed by up-to-the-minute research and data. As the initiatives evolve and continue to be informed by learnings, the landscape of teen engagement continues to grow—and the outcomes are increasingly positive.

Want to learn how your community can get involved? Contact Sara Allen, Collaborative Director,

The Jim Joseph Foundation is one of many funders invested in the Collaborative. 

UJA-Federation of New York Day School Challenge Fund Initiative

Jewish day schools participating in UJA-Federation of New York’s Day School Challenge Fund (DSCF) initiative are in the final months of raising funds for endowments that are eligible to be matched — with the goal of helping to secure their long-term future and to make excellent day school education more accessible for more families.

The DSCF initiative already has changed communal norms around endowment giving, elevating its importance for a diverse cohort of several day schools and yeshivas in New York. Since its launch in 2014, the $51 million Communal Challenge Fund has matched distributions on endowment dollars that participating schools raise. And, through expert training and strategic consulting provided as part of the initiative, day school leaders are equipped with best in class strategies and approaches in endowment fundraising.

The Day School Challenge Fund has had a profoundly positive effect on the culture of our school, in two different ways: It has provided us with a sense of long-term security that has stimulated us to think more creatively than ever about the future of our school, and it has inspired our donors’ confidence in their own ability to have a truly transformative impact.
– Michael A. Kay, PhD, Head of School, Solomon Schechter School of Westchester

Annual endowment distributions provide a school with a predictable revenue source, which can transform a school’s dreams of financial stability, increased affordability, and educational excellence into everyday realities for years to come. The Day School Challenge Fund initiative offers the 23 participating Jewish day schools and yeshivot the tools and incentives to develop and grow endowments to support each school’s programs and activities.

When the fundraising part of the DSCF concludes on December 31, 2018, the initiative will have generated almost $100 million in new endowment dollars. The schools are working to finish their campaigns strong with four months left to go.

Our school has received three seven figure gifts – unprecedented in our history – due to the encouragement and match in funds from UJA-Federation of New York’s Day School Challenge Fund initiative. We look forward to continuing to make history for our school.
-Danny Karpf, Head of School, Rodeph Sholom School

Jewish day schools play a vital role in fostering a knowledgeable and engaged Jewish community, and inspiring the next generation of leaders. The New York Jewish Community is laying a strong foundation for the future of its day schools.

The 23 DSCF participating schools represent the spectrum of North American Day Schools and Yeshivas:

Abraham Joshua Heschel School, Barkai Yeshivah, Carmel Academy, Hannah Senesh Community Day School, Hebrew Academy of Long Beach, Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway, Hebrew Academy of Nassau County, Manhattan Day School, Magen David Yeshivah, Mazel Day School, North Shore Hebrew Academy, Ramaz, Rodeph Sholom School, SAR Academy, Schechter School of Long Island, Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan, Solomon Schechter School of Queens, Solomon Schechter School of Westchester, The Shefa School, Westchester Day School, Yeshiva Darchei Torah, Yeshivah of Flatbush, Yeshiva of South Shore

The Jim Joseph Foundation is one of a group of foundations and philanthropists, including UJA-Federation of New York, that have contributed to UJA-Federation of New York’s Day School Challenge Fund, totaling $51 million in matching funds that will be part of a total endowment of nearly $100 million.

JCC Association Sheva Center Leadership Institute

Jewish Community Centers (JCC) throughout North America offer rich, welcoming environments for families with young children to engage in meaningful Jewish life and learning. The JCC Association of North America’s new Sheva Center Leadership Institute for Early Childhood Professionals—an initiative of The Sheva Center for Innovation in Early Childhood Jewish Education and Engagement—is a three-year fellowship experience that will help increase the number and quality of educators who create and lead these formative experiences.

A cohort of new early childhood education (ECE) directors, administrators, and classroom educators study together and in tracks at retreats and at virtual learning sessions. They focus on experiences they face with learners and with parents, and how they approach their work and overcome challenges.

At the last retreat we found ourselves saying that “we’ve spent 20 days of our lives together,” but [the other Fellows] feel closer to me than people who have been in my life for years. We are able to relate to our work, to struggle over our situation together.
– Sarah Koffler, Participant in Sheva Covenant ECE Directors Fellowship, the pilot program funded by the Covenant Foundation that preceded the Sheva Center Leadership Institute

The Sheva Center is committed to connecting these educators, who are on the front line of ECE work, to each other for peer support and to inspire them to grow their practice, mindful of the best and latest research in the field. The foundation of the institute is the Sheva framework, which outlines a dynamic vision of excellence in early childhood Jewish education using seven Jewish lenses and seven core elements.

At the first retreat earlier this summer, educators built relationships with each other. As a group, they explored an early 19th century vision of Zionism through study and walking in the footsteps of Mordechai Manuel Noah. They studied the natural disaster of Love Canal and the natural beauty and wonder of Niagara Falls. They examined the threads between these subjects and how they might influence our understanding of leadership, Jewish life, and spirituality.

Faculty engages with each fellow throughout the fellowship, and different scholars-in-residence join the group at retreats. Each fellow also has a Sheva Faculty Mentor with whom she or he works for their entire three-year fellowship, including through monthly virtual meetings and two in-person site visits.

For me that’s the biggest piece: having people to reflect with and grow with and to talk to when you’re struggling, keeping those chavruta learning partnerships going, feeling that that connection is still going on, continuing to push each other and reminding each other of our strengths, and providing support for each other as a group.
Tracy Labrosse, Participant in Sheva Covenant ECE Directors Fellowship

JCC Association creates leadership teams within the home JCC community to bridge the gap between the cohort in the institute and the JCC at large. These working relationships are crucial to the success of the fellow and the growth of the school within the greater JCC community. As the fellowship continues, JCC Association looks for new ways to develop and support leaders and educators. The upcoming second retreat in Boulder, Colorado will include scholar in residence Dr. Assael Romanelli, a certified family and couple therapist, facilitator and trainer, who grew up in Israel and the United States. Now living in Jerusalem, Dr. Romanelli is the artistic advisor and conductor for Or Chozer Playback Theater Ensemble and incorporates psychodrama and action methods in his workshops. Fellows also will spend time at the Boulder Journey School as a window into the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood.

Learning with my cohort has impacted how I want to start reflective learning for my staff and how to foster that in them, so that they’re continually thinking about their own journey as a teacher, to be reflective of their own practice. Before then it was just about imparting information. I need to reformat my staff learning and think how to help educators look at themselves and their practice, and make it similar to how the retreats were coordinated.
Tracy Labrosse

The Jim Joseph Foundation supports the Sheva Center Leadership Institute.


Avodah is special because it is welcoming of people who have different levels of Jewish education and people with different levels of different experiences with social justice…by being in Avodah, I realized that not only do I belong in the Jewish community and that I have a right to be there, but that I can actually be a leader there and that has inspired me to be more of a leader following Avodah
– Ursula Wagner, Avodah Chicago Justice Fellowship ‘17.

Ursula Wagner is a clinical social worker and union leader at Heartland Alliance where she works with individuals experiencing homelessness. She is just one of many young adults engaging in Jewish community and learning through Avodah and their passion for social justice.

With a central tenet that justice is a Jewish value, Avodah trains and supports Jewish leaders so they have the skills to advance social justice and have a deep understanding about how their values connect to their Jewish identities.

Avodah’s training, tools, and the intellectual, spiritual and communal framework sustains the work of Jewish leaders and their  lifelong commitment to social justice. Through its national Jewish Service Corps and Justice Fellowship programs, Avodah provides the gateway for new generations of leaders to find meaning and inspiration in their Judaism to create a better world.

When I finished college, I really wanted to continue down my path of social justice and I also really wanted to re engage with Judaism as an adult. Avodah offered both of those things exactly
– Danny Brown Avodah Jewish Service Corps Member DC ‘18, Danny Brown is currently spending his Avodah year as a digital literacy instructor at Byte Back, a nonprofit in DC that offers computer and tech training to adults entering or reentering the workforce.

Through Avodah, young Jewish leaders learn to connect their Jewish values to the most pressing issues today.

The Jim Joseph Foundation supports Avodah’s service leadership programs.


David Hartman Center Fellows Program of Shalom Hartman Institute of North America 

The Shalom Hartman Institute of North America cultivates the next generation of great thinkers who will grapple with and lead on the big questions impacting the Jewish future. Last year, the Institute launched a North American cohort of David Hartman Center Fellows, already an established fellowship in Israel, as an incubator of emerging talent that educates top academic scholars to apply their own research and scholarship to the big questions facing Jewish life today. These scholars are then encouraged to share that thinking with the broader Jewish community.

The inaugural cohort of seven top academic scholars from across the country represent diverse scholarly disciplines—rabbinic, modern Jewish thought, Biblical commentary, Judaism and Islam, legal theory, and philosophy—and diverse engagement in the Jewish community, including teaching in schools, adult education, and a Jewish printing house. Fellows are trained in a style of thought leadership enabling them to conceptualize and frame challenging issues of the day and equipping them to be change agents who will shape Jewish life.

Together with senior Hartman research fellows, the Fellows explore areas such as Talmud as Thought Leadership; American Jewish Spirituality; and the American-Jewish relationship to Israel.

What makes this program unique is both an uncompromising commitment to rigorous scholarship, and a commitment to use that scholarship to heal fractures in the Jewish community.
– Sara Labaton, David Hartman Center Fellow

As the first year of the program concludes, the Cohort has developed a network and ongoing relationships with each other as well as renowned scholars at Hartman. And, they will spend July at the Institute in Jerusalem, meeting with their counterparts in the David Hartman Center in Israel to better understand the transatlantic influence of thought leadership, and challenges and opportunities in the relationship between American Jews and Israeli Jews from a new perspective.  The second year of the program will include year-long collaborative research, culminating in a series of public lectures, writing, and projects.

As we think about the challenges facing Jewish life in North America, we know we need a stronger pipeline of leaders who will confront these challenges; and we need a stronger set of ideas that have been, and always will be, the currency with which the Jewish people travel through history. The David Hartman Center Fellows are a source of optimism and inspiration for thinking about the vitality, relevancy, and moral character of Judaism in the 21st century.
– Yehuda Kurtzer, President, Shalom Hartman Institute of North America

Jewish Emergent Network Prepares for First-Ever Conference

The Jewish Emergent Network is comprised of the leaders of seven path‐breaking Jewish communities from across the country: IKAR in Los Angeles, Kavana in Seattle, The Kitchen in San Francisco, Mishkan in Chicago, Sixth & I in Washington, D.C., and Lab/Shul and Romemu in New York. They join in the spirit of collaboration to revitalize the field of Jewish engagement, with a commitment to both traditionally rooted and creative approaches that welcome people into rich and meaningful Jewish life.

Now the Network is preparing to gather with thought leaders from around North America June 1-3 for (RE)VISION: Experiments & Dreams From Emerging Jewish Communities, a dynamic, content-rich, Shabbat-based conference held at IKAR and co-hosted by the the Network organizations.

Registration for (RE)VISION is open to the public at at

The three full days of content will feature laboratories, galleries, interactive experiments, panels, guest speakers and other creative learning modules, with plenty of time built in for networking, davening, singing and creating community.

(RE)VISION will also be the official introduction of the Network’s second cohort of select, early career rabbinic fellows and the farewell sendoff for the first cohort. The goal of the Network’s hallmark Rabbinic Fellowship is to create the next generation of entrepreneurial, risk-taking change-makers, with the skills to initiate independent communities and who are valuable and valued inside existing Jewish institutions and synagogues.

Joining this incredible Fellowship of rabbis and innovators has been the best possible kickoff to my rabbinic career.
-Rabbi Lauren Henderson, currently the Network Fellow at Mishkan in Chicago

These rabbis who founded these emergent communities are my Jewish superheroes. They are redefining what is Jewish practice and Jewish life, and what Jewish community can really feel like. It can feel deeply welcoming and open but also, they are offering a Judaism that demands a lot of the people who walk in.

-Keilah Lebell, incoming second cohort Network Fellow at IKAR

Along with the Jim Joseph Foundation, additional support for the Network is provided by the William Davidson Foundation, the Crown Family, the Charles H. Revson Foundation, Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah, and Natan. Network members are continuing to secure additional program funding over the next two years.

15 Years of the Jewish New Teacher Project

Well-trained and supported teachers are integral to high quality and effective Jewish Day Schools. They deserve opportunities to continuously refine and improve their skills, and, equally as important, must have a desire to remain at their schools.

Now in its 15th year, the Jewish New Teacher Project (JNTP) addresses both of these areas, helping Day Schools offer support to new and veteran teachers in Jewish and general studies through their intensive mentoring and mentor training programs.

With full conviction I can say that I would not have stayed in teaching if not for the mentoring I received through JNTP!
– Tamar Kaplan Appel, Assistant Principal, Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls
former JNTP new teacher; current JNTP mentor

What began with a select group of Jewish Day Schools in Metropolitan New York, JNTP now engages mentors and new teachers elsewhere in the east coast and Midwest. Over the past 15 years, JNTP has worked with more than 1,000 educators in Jewish day schools across North America, helping schools achieve teaching excellence by increasing teacher effectiveness and teacher retention and by bringing the language of teaching standards, collaboration and professional development into school culture.

JNTP currently is training 154 mentors to work intensively with 174 new teachers from 69 schools across the country, with program hubs in New York, Baltimore, Chicago and Miami. JNTP also coaches early-career administrators and, between its Baltimore coaching cohort and one-on-one coaching work, has supported 47 new administrators in 25 schools. This year JNTP’s work is influencing the education experience of over 18,000 students in Jewish day schools.

JNTP’s model was adapted from the New Teacher Center in Santa Cruz, California, which trains veteran teachers to provide two years of intensive mentoring to support new teachers in public schools across the country. JNTP’s efforts elevate teaching and learning in the world of Jewish education and enable schools to have more effective educators and school leaders positioned to help every student meets his or her potential.

The Jewish New Teacher Project started as a pilot program of The AVI CHAI Foundation in 2003. The Jim Joseph Foundation continues to invest in JNTP today.

CASJE: Growing a Base of Knowledge for Jewish Education

A growing base of knowledge is developing for Jewish education practitioners to turn to for insights and best practices so they engage learners in the most effective ways possible. This development is critical for the field of Jewish education. Just as other fields, such as medicine and law, have research that informs and improves practice, CASJE (Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education)—a community of researchers, practitioners, and philanthropic leaders—is committed to sharing knowledge to improve Jewish education.

One current long-term research project explores how Jewish early childhood education (ECE) can serve as a gateway for deeper and more sustained involvement in Jewish life. The study includes a focus on ways that ECE institutions can better engage interfaith families and families that are not currently involved in a synagogue or other Jewish institution.

We want to equip communities with the knowledge and skills to welcome in families of all Jewish backgrounds as effectively as possible.
– Lesley Matsa Said of The Crown Family, which is funding the research program

Another project, recently completed, was a three-part literature review series exploring what recent research about heritage, second, and foreign language learning means for the teaching and learning of Hebrew.

This research directly informs how educators teach Hebrew—plain and simple. We now have a clearer picture of what Hebrew language learners experience and we can apply this research to improve the outcomes in Hebrew language learning.
– Rabbi Mitchel Malkus, Head of School at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School of Greater Washington, D.C. and co-chair of the Board of Directors of CASJE

CASJE also is committed to developing the pipeline of future Jewish education scholars. As part of these efforts, an emerging scholar sits on CASJE’s Board and, each year, CASJE hosts an Emerging Scholars Seminar at the Network for Research in Jewish Education annual conference.

CASJE invited us—mentors and mentees all—to consult on its newly commissioned research project that investigates the extent to which Jewish early Childhood Education (ECE) may be a gateway to more meaningful Jewish educational experiences…There’s nothing like a good case study to animate thinking, to prod shareholders outside their comfort zones, and to advance “outside the box” rumination and reflection.
Matt Williams, 2017 Emerging Scholars Seminar attendee

Visit to learn more about its areas of research and ongoing projects, including its recent Problem Formulation Convening (PFC) to explore the recruitment, retention, and development of Jewish educators, supported by the William Davidson Foundation. The day-long gathering brought together a small group of scholars, practitioners, and funders with a set of shared concerns. The primary question at this PFC was: what would it take to recruit significantly greater numbers of talented people to the field of Jewish education, and what would be needed to sustain and retain those personnel once they have launched careers in the field? Through carefully facilitated conversations, the day developed an applied research agenda that can shape understandings of the career trajectories of Jewish educators in North America.