The Jim Joseph Foundation has awarded a three-year, $5.2 million grant to the DeLeT teacher education program at Brandeis University and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.
The grant extends a donor relationship between the foundation and DeLeT that began two years ago. According to an evaluation commissioned by the foundation, DeLeT represents a “paradigm shift” in the preparation of Jewish day school teachers, integrating graduate coursework with a yearlong immersive field experience in partner schools. As of this summer, the program will have prepared more than 130 Jewish day school teachers, working in 40 schools across the U.S.
DeLeT, the Hebrew word for “door,” stands for Day School Leadership through Teaching. Philanthropist Laura Lauder founded the program in 2000, in response to a looming shortage of well-educated, highly qualified Jewish day school teachers.
“What began as a response to a crisis quickly grew into an innovative, vision-driven approach to Jewish teacher education,” said Michael Zeldin, director of HUC’s Rhea Hirsch School of Education, where DeLeT is headquartered. “And now with the support of the Jim Joseph Foundation, we can continue to provide day schools with teachers who can inspire students to live as knowledgeable and committed Jews in America.”
DeLeT graduates benefit from a yearlong internship under a trained, experienced teacher, guidance from field instructors, and rigorous academic coursework. “It’s an intense, transformative experience that is both personal and professional,” said Sharon Feiman-Nemser, Mandel Professor of Jewish Education and director of the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education, which administers the DeLeT program at Brandeis in cooperation with the university’s Education Program. “The Jim Joseph Foundation has systematically sought out partners in every arena of Jewish education, as it pursues its mission of creating compelling learning experiences for young Jews, and we’re honored and proud to be among those partners,” Feiman-Nemser said.