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Alan Bennett, national Jewish education leader, dies

JTA

January 3, 2011 | 3:33 pm

Dr. Alan Bennett, a leader in Jewish education and a founder of the Neot Kedumim Biblical Landscape Reserve in Israel, has died.

Bennett died in Cleveland at the Hospice of the Western Reserve on Dec. 21 after a short battle with cancer. He was 83.

Bennett came to Cleveland in 1967 to work as education director at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple. He served for 15 years, beginning in 1978, as the executive vice president of the Cleveland Bureau of Education and oversaw its transformation into the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland. Upon his retirement he was named executive vice president emeritus, and in 1997 the JECC created the Alan D. Bennett Staff Development Award for Israel Study.

A founder of the National Association of Temple Educators, Bennett served as a member of the association’s first executive board and in all elective capacities including president. He chaired the Reform Jewish Educator Commission from its inception in 1983 until recently.

Bennett received an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2004. Union for Reform Judaism President Rabbi Eric Yoffie described him at the ceremony as “one of our movement’s finest educators.”

With his wife, Florence, Bennett led Israel study tours for students and teachers from 1968 to 1984. With a group of teens they helped build the Neot Kedumim Biblical Landscape Reserve, which re-creates the flora and fauna mentioned in the Bible.

Bennett, a New York native, also was a prolific author who wrote many journal articles, teacher’s guides and a few books.

He served in the U.S. Navy Hospital Corps from 1944 to 1946.

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