Your Daily Phil: A new study on recruiting and retaining Jewish educators + Meet the ‘Jews of no religion’


 Good Tuesday morning!

The Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center, an archive of Jewish life in New England that holds such collections as the Boston records of HIAS and papers of the Rabb family, which founded the Stop & Shop supermarket chain, is aiming to expand its role as a provider of educational programming to the general public, Rachel King, the center’s executive director, told eJewishPhilanthropy.

“By education I don’t just mean in classrooms, I mean broad education to adult populations, and to non-Jewish populations,” said King, who plans to apply for a Covenant Foundation “Ignition Grant,” which funds innovative educational technologies and programs such as Hebrew apps, films and outdoor experiences.

Housed at the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) in Boston, the center has raised two-thirds of a $400,000 fundraising campaign timed to coincide with its 10th anniversary as part of NEHGS.

“I call it an interfaith marriage, because NEHGS has been in Boston since 1845 and is historically a kind of Boston Brahmin institution,” King said. The two organizations co-sponsor programming, such as a lecture today by Menachem Kaiser, the author of Plunder: A memoir of Family Property and Stolen Nazi Treasure.


A new CASJE study charts a path to success as a Jewish educator

National Museum of American Jewish History

A new study from the Collaborative for Applied Studies in Jewish Education (CASJE) is aiming to improve the recruitment and training of Jewish educators by surveying not only those who work in the field — but also those who could have entered it, and chose not to. The study revealed “troubling data” that indicates that Jewish education as a profession needs to improve workplace conditions for educators “across the board,” as well as several other findings that form the basis of recommendations for funders and practitioners, Wendy Rosov, whose Rosov Consulting firm led the research, told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff.

Communal needs: “We need great educators who are well-supported, who are working in positive workplace environments, who are compensated well and whose personal and professional growth is being attended to,” Rosov said. The paper, titled “Preparing for Entry,” is part of a broader project, the “Career Trajectories of Jewish Educators Study.” In early June, the team released the results of the field’s first-ever census, which found that there were 72,000 Jewish educators working in the United States in 2019. Work on professional development, the labor market and a deeper dive into the census will follow.

A bigger vision of education: Researchers have in the past studied Jewish day schools and yeshiva teachers, as in the 2006 “Educators in Jewish Schools” study by the Jewish Education Service of North America, said Arielle Levites, CASJE’s managing director. But the new study defines “educator” more broadly as one who educates or “engages” in a Jewish setting, regardless of the subject taught or whether the educator identifies as Jewish. That definition captures more and newer educator roles, such as those who work in camps, youth groups and adult education programs. The Jim Joseph Foundation and the William Davidson Foundation are funding the study. 

Read the full story here.


A fresh look at who we are and what that means


“Contrary to lachrymose predictions about the future of the American Jewish community, the 2020 study of American Jewry recently released by the Pew Foundation shows that the size of American Jewry has actually increased, to about 7.5 million people. Two categories of Jews are rapidly growing. The first is the Orthodox, especially the ultra-Orthodox, due to their high birthrate, which is over double that of the rest of the Jewish community. The other is Jews of No Religion (JNRs), which in the 18-29 age group is now 40% of the population,” writes Rabbi David Teutschprofessor emeritus at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy. 

JNRs: “It is JNRs who are of particular interest to me because as a group they are open to Jewish connection even though they do not identify with any particular religious movement. They name Jewish values and culture as the basis for their Jewish connections and in large numbers identify social justice as a focus of their concerns.”

Synagogues: “How do most synagogues spend their budgets? In most of them, worship, ritual and education account for the vast majority of the budget. This is particularly so if staff time and building use are allocated according to the activities for which they are used. There is a notable mismatch between what congregations do and what JNRs are interested in.”

The challenge: “If community leaders are interested in involving JNRs in their communities, we need to respond to that mismatch… Doing this well will require not only some careful thinking and planning, but also some degree of a shift in the use of congregational resources.”

Read the full piece here.


Response to ‘Rabbinical and Cantorial Students Appeal to the Heart of the Jewish Community’ from an elder colleague

eJP Archives

“For well over a month now, I have not been able to get the open letter, ‘Rabbinical and Cantorial Students Appeal to the Heart of the Jewish Community,’ out of my mind. My face fell when I first read it and now wish to engage with my future colleagues by sharing a few thoughts.,” writes Rabbi Daniel Zemel, senior rabbi of Temple Micah in Washington, D.C., in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Ahavat Yisrael: “Being a rabbi means embracing and seeking to interpret the full complexity of the human experience. Ahavat Yisraelis by no means easy. If the Jewish People is family, how does one critique its State from a loving embrace? That is a real question.”

From generation to generation: “Perhaps my generation has not always been helpful to these students and their generation in finding their way in this complicated journey we call Zionism. I am nearing the end of my active rabbinic career and I wonder often what my grandchildren’s grandchildren will inherit as a Jewish life. We are, after all, a chain of tradition. Some generations experience wrenching change while others seem to seamlessly pass on what they have inherited. What is the Jewish vision and narrative of the next generation of rabbis?”

Tear down or build: “The entire framework for Jewish spirituality is a cycle: home, exile, return. This is rooted in the tanakh and in our oldest history. It is a powerful metaphor for what it means to live as a person in the world. It is the part of Judaism that lives in our gut. It informs the ethical mandate that motivates our pursuit of justice… So what is the vision? We know what they want to tear down. What do they want to build?”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Shades of Gray: For nearly two millennia, Western society has struggled to reconcile Jesus’ exhortation to give to the poor with the desire to accumulate wealth, writes Max Hastings in an opinion piece in Bloomberg that takes a sympathetic view of causes and charitable institutions under pressure to eschew support from controversial donors like the Sacklers, accused of fueling the opioid crisis, and oil and gas companies. He suggests that critics of so-called dirty money also call out wealthy individuals, including sports and movie stars, who don’t donate: “In general, legislatures and courts, rather than the boards of public bodies, should pass judgment on sinning corporations and tycoons.” [Bloomberg]

Recalibrating Funding: Almost five years after the #MeToo movement erupted, the Collective Future Fund (CFF), a pooled fund created in that moment to support organizations working to end gender-based violence, has reached a milestone, reports Martha Ramirez in Inside Philanthropy. Funded by such philanthropies as the Ford Foundation and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, CFF has announced an $11 million investment in organizations including Black Women’s Blueprint and the National Women’s Law Center in an effort to address what it sees as an longstanding tendency by philanthropy to ignore organizations led by women of color. “I think the impact of this type of… historic oversight within philanthropy has been that the organizations that center women of color and are working on safety don’t have the time and space to build power and shape their work in a very dynamic and changing context,” said Aleyamma Mathew, CFF’s executive director. [InsidePhilanthropy

New Chair: In The Jewish Chronicle, Rosa Doherty profiles attorney Annabel Steltzer, the new chair of Wizo UK [Women’s International Zionist Organization]. The events Wizo hosted online during the pandemic helped the group raise awareness about poverty in Israel and Wizo’s welfare work there, Steltzer said. “Wizo recognises that Israel is a multicultural, diverse, evolving society and the mission of Wizo UK is to continue to fund vital projects and programmes to give all Israelis the opportunity to be fulfilled and contributing citizens, helping to bridge the social divide,” Steltzer said. [JC]

Community Comms

Apply! Want to join the team at Jewish Insider/eJewish Philanthropy? We’re looking for a top-notch philanthropy editor. Learn more here.

Be featured: Email us to inform the eJP readership of your upcoming event, job opening, or other communication.

Word on the Street

Paul Isserles was named director of URJ Eisner Camp effective this fall… The Jewish Federations of North America launched a Public Affairs Advocacy Corps… The Rockefeller Foundation announced a $13.5 million commitment to help strengthen COVID-19 public health response efforts in the United States, Africa, India and Latin America… The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded a $15 million grant to the University of California in support of efforts to increase faculty diversity… Ben & Jerry’s ice cream company announced yesterday that it will no longer distribute its products in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” but said the ice cream will remain available in Israel…

Pic of the Day

Capital Camps

Session 1 Maccabiah (color war), a staple at Jewish summer camps, at Capital Camps.


Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Actor and comedian, Joey Bragg
Retired after 30 years in the U.S. Senate (D-MD) following 10 years in the House of Representatives, Barbara Mikulski… President of the National Endowment for Democracy since its 1984 founding, Carl Gershman… Long-time Israeli diplomat, he served as a consul to Hong Kong and ambassador to Germany (2007-2012), Yoram Ben-Zeev… Former commissioner on the Civil Rights Commission, Assistant Secretary of HUD in the Clinton administration, presently Vice Chair of the Bank of San Francisco, Roberta Achtenberg… U.S. District Court judge in Massachusetts, Judge Patti B. Saris… NYTimes columnist, author and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Thomas Loren Friedman… Molecular geneticist at NYC-based Rockefeller University and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Jeffrey M. Friedman… Broadcast and digital media executive, based in Baku, Azerbaijan, Farrell Meisel… Professor of sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Barbara Risman… Past president of the Women’s Department at the Jewish Federation of Detroit, Marcie Hermelin Orley… Los Angeles-based wardrobe consultant, Linleigh Ayn Richker… Member of the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party, Nira Shpak… Member of the Knesset for the United Torah Judaism party, Yitzhak Ze’ev Pindros… Attorney Jack Achiezer Guggenheim… Political director of CNN, David Marc Chalian… Co-author of “Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame,” he is a staff writer at The Atlantic and a fellow at the New America Foundation, Franklin Foer… Midwest regional director at AIPAC, David Fox… Singer who burst on the scene as a finalist on the fifth season of American Idol, Efraym Elliott Yamin… Group leader at lobbyist Capalino+Company, Fred Kreizman… Managing partner of the communications and branding firm of Main & Rose, Beth Doane… Co-founder and co-executive director of the progressive Indivisible movement, Ezra Levin… Third baseman for Team Israel, Ty Kelly… Comedian and featured player on Saturday Night Live, Chloe Fineman… Software engineer at Home Chef, Ashley Abramowicz Gibbs… Anesthesiologist at UCLA, Sheila Ganjian Navi… Special assistant in HHS’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Etan Raskas… VP at BlackRock in San Francisco, Jonathan Tamir Alden… 
Email to have your birthday included.