Jewish Day Schools Creating Cultures of Experimentation and Creativity

by Maya Bernstein and Rabbi Ed Harwitz We are currently in the second year of experimenting with a new approach to bringing innovative solutions to challenges and opportunities facing NY Jewish Day Schools. The Day School Collaboration Network is a network of educators who share the goal of developing more inspiring, relevant and creative solutions to challenges facing their schools and, by extension, to the broader field of Jewish day school education. This joint project of UpStart Bay Area and The Jewish Education Project made possible by a generous grant from UJA Federation of New York, enables day school educators working at the “grass roots” (including classroom teachers, curriculum heads, deans, counselors, and learning specialist) to identify and grapple with challenges that impact the … [Read more...]

The MiNYanim Multiplier Effect: Making a Difference in Eastern Europe

Minyanim 2013

If you invest in ten people in one community and these ten people reach out another 100, you will soon reach 1,000 or more people. by Abigail Pickus Tamás (Tomi) Buchler is a 30-year-old Hungarian Jew who has been a leading force in what can only be described as a renaissance in Jewish life throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Born and raised in Budapest, his story is “a bit different from the typical Jewish Hungarian narrative.” “I was born a few years before the regime fell and I received a strong Jewish identity straight from the beginning,” he said, adding that only a “tiny minority of Hungarian Jews have grown up like him with a strong Jewish identity from their home.” Buchler’s story is unique in another way, as well: all four of his grandparents survived the Holocaust, … [Read more...]

We Believe in Synagogues

by Andi Rosenthal and Cantor Adina Frydman Dear Friends, It is astonishing to consider how deep our connections are to our five thousand year old ancestors in the Exodus story. With the approach of Passover, we imagine them, somehow connecting to the tectonic shifts of peoplehood, tension and anxiety characterized by the Pesach narrative. We cannot help but feel their sense of displacement, liberation, and awe at the miracles that awaited them. … [Read more...]

Jewish Outdoor, Food, and Environmental Education Experiences Show Increased Potential for Jewish Engagement


Experiences that blend Jewish learning with the outdoors, food, and environment are attracting a growing number of diverse Jews to meaningful and inspiring Jewish life, reports the first-ever national survey on Jewish Outdoor, Food, and Environmental Education (JOFEE) - Seeds of Opportunity: A National Study of Immersive Jewish Outdoor, Food, and Environmental Education (JOFEE). The report, released today by a group of six major funders and Hazon, examines the history, programs, professionals, and participants that comprise JOFEE experiences. Leaders of JOFEE are eager to share the key findings and continue a conversation about its potential for growth and for Jewish engagement. “For the last decade, a growing number of young Jewish people have been connecting Jewish tradition, on the one … [Read more...]

UJA-Fed NY Selects “Professional Outsider” as New CEO


Eric Goldstein, a financial litigation lawyer and vice chair of the Federation, has been selected as the new CEO at UJA-Federation of New York. This according to a report in The Forward: “According to his professional resume he has represented many high profile Wall Street clients, including JPMorgan Chase, which he defended from class action suits after the 2008 collapse of Bear Stearns. Goldstein represented junk bond billionaire Michael Milken who, in a plea deal, was convicted of securities fraud in 1990. Goldstein also defended Milken against numerous civil cases and a class action suit filed against him in connection with this case.” UJA-Federation's Board was originally scheduled to vote on Goldstein's appointment earlier in the week. A snowstorm caused rescheduling of the meeting to … [Read more...]

Deepening the Impact of Professional Development


Perhaps this year the Jewish community can commit itself to taking professional development to the next level, identifying what it might threaten if it is taken seriously, and learning to tolerate some discomfort, some awkwardness, for the sake of swifter, smoother, healthier movement. by Maya Bernstein I recently invested in swimming lessons. I love to swim; it is one of my regular ways of exercising. But when an old injury began hurting each time I was in the water, and when my father shared that he’d recently torn a rotator cuff while swimming, I decided that if I am going to continue swimming, I’d better get a few pointers. At first, the lessons were fun - I felt like a kid again. Then, I realized something. Each time I was in a lesson, I’d turn, stroke, and kick the way the instructor was … [Read more...]

Bring Another CEO to Work Day

by Naomi Korb Weiss and Bob Sherman At a November 2012 intimate breakfast for executives at UJA-Federation of New York, a facilitator suggested casually that participants in the room consider ‘reverse-shadowing’ one another to gain insights into other management styles and organizations. Two such executives took this suggestion to heart; below they each share the immense insights they gained from just two days. His Hers Name The Jewish Education Project (result of recent merger between Board of Jewish Education of Greater NY and SAJES PresenTense Group Age of Agency 133 years old 7 years old Mission To increase the impact and expand the reach of Jewish education for today's children, teens and families To strengthen the Jewish community by equipping social … [Read more...]

Lies, Damned Lies and Big Data

by Russel Neiss Nary a day goes by that there isn't yet another response to what seems to be an endless myriad of reactions to the Pew Study. And this week, JTA reported on a $750,000 initiative by the NY Fed for twelve NY-based congregations to promote "more sophisticated data use among synagogues." Ostensibly, these and countless other "data driven" initiatives going back to the establishment of the Bureau of Jewish Social Research in 1919 have existed in order to facilitate and support the work of Jewish educators and communal professionals and help them engage in the holy work they do - but I wonder if our fetishizing of these figures is doing more harm than good. A Mashal: Robert McNamara was appointed as the U.S. secretary of defense when the Vietnam conflict began to rear its ugly … [Read more...]