As the Jim Joseph Foundation, a San Francisco-based foundation that focuses on Jewish education, wraps up three major grants in the Los Angeles area, its beneficiaries are touting their programs’ successes as models for Jewish funding.
On any given night, upward of 75 Jewish men and women cram into a building at 1453 S. Robertson Blvd. to study Torah, discuss religious texts and educate themselves on what it means to live a Jewish life.
Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, a Boston-based agency for Jewish special education, is offering eight suggestions from experts for a Chanukah celebration that is child friendly and fully accessible for children with special learning needs:
Growing up in Los Angeles, Asaf Shasha, then 16, had everything a teenager could want: a loving family, good friends and a comfortable home. Still, Shasha couldn’t shake the feeling that there was more to life than the fancy gadgets prized by the kids at his Jewish day school.
From my first interview at Temple Israel of Hollywood (TIOH) in 2009, when the search committee declared, “We want revolution, not evolution!” to the visioning work I do with families today, my purpose at the congregation has been clear: to help families build deeper relationships to Jewish community, Jewish living and Jewish learning.
In religious Jewish communities, the affordability of day schools is one of the most discussed social challenges. Supporting vibrant, successful, viable Jewish day schools is no less than supporting the Jewish future — our children are our future, and the values we demonstrate and pass on will determine what they will do with the torch when they are its bearers.
LimmudLA honored its founders, Linda Fife and Shep Rosenman, in an evening of dinner, music and study on Sunday, Sept. 9, at the Los Angeles River Center and Gardens. LimmudLA is the local outlet of an international model of interdisciplinary, interdenominational, no-boundaries Jewish conferences and events. Founded in the United Kingdom more than 30 years ago, Limmud now conducts 60 conferences in 30 countries, all of them almost entirely run by volunteers.
Shalhevet high school is close to finalizing a deal to sell more than half of its 2.4 acres to a property developer who plans to build an apartment complex on the lot at the corner of Fairfax Avenue and San Vicente Boulevard. The plan will put Shalhevet on firmer financial footing, head of school Ari Segal told the Boiling Point, Shalhevet’s school newspaper. The school currently carries heavy debt and has limited funds for capital improvements and programming, Segal said.
On Mother's Day, I'm going to wear my mother's jewelry. No, this isn't a mom’s day story about gender identity; it’s about Jewish identity and whether possessions can help pass it on.
Facing this shortage of qualified Jewish educators at every job level and in every educational setting, I find myself wondering why more young Jewish adults, especially among this current idealistic generation, aren't choosing careers in Jewish education. Why aren't more of them clamoring to be Jewish educators?
More than most cities, Los Angeles boasts a wide array of Jewish day schools, religious schools, camps and youth and family activities. But if you're new in town, or a first-time parent, or just not familiar with the community, this wealth of opportunities can seem daunting. In February, the BJE launched its Concierge for Jewish Education program, focusing solely on Jewish offerings. And unlike a growing number of related services -- including locally published school guides or consultants who charge fees of up to $150 per hour -- the BJE provides its service for free.
Discussion of the pro and cons of school trips.
One way to ensure your soon-to-be bar or bat mitzvah is on track and ready for the big day is to hire a tutor.
Two new Orthodox day schools -- a preschool and a high school -- are scheduled to debut this year in Los Angeles, enhancing the Jewish educational landscape with nuanced curricula and sophisticated schooling methodologies.
When the school year starts Aug. 20, Schorr's daughter and Barnett's daughter will be among the 430 or so students attending the new Ben Gamla Charter School in Hollywood, Fla. The taxpayer-funded institution says it will offer two hours of instruction a day in Jewish-related topics but not religion.
You can't talk about Jewish philanthropy without talking about Jewish priorities. For many years now, a huge priority for the American Jewish community has been to fight assimilation -- what is elegantly called "Jewish continuity." It's a priority that is rarely challenged. How do you argue against Jewish continuity?
To raise a child to young adulthood who knows herself, who has a sense of what she loves, an ability to relate to others and a command of the things she needs to learn -- that is a gift far beyond the right school and the best scores.
Charles Dickens' classic, "A Tale of Two Cities," begins with the famous line: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Sociologist Steven Cohen's new study on intermarriage has a similar title but a different spirit.
We've been sitting at Starbucks over iced drinks for 20 minutes, and the subject of the University of Judaism (UJ) has yet to be brought up. We're schmoozing, Robert Wexler and I, and he asks a lot of questions about me -- where my grandparents are from, where I went to college, where my kids go to school. We talk about how parenting today is so different from how it was when we were each growing up, and we weigh the pros and cons of teens being tethered to their parents by the flip of a cell phone.
You can hang out for years at the Pico-Robertson intersection and still have no clue that you are 50 feet away from a Jewish high school for boys called Natan Eli.
I have been passionate about Jewish education for two decades: When I worked in the public and private secular worlds of elementary education, I found myself searching for a more meaningful path to follow. I wanted to be able to talk to kids not only about being the best student they could be, but also about becoming the best people they could become.
Years ago, Rabbi Ed Feinstein of Valley Beth Shalom would run up and down the Hebrew school carpool line handing out cassette tapes of his and Rabbi Harold Schulweis' sermons.
"If you're not going to come inside, at least listen to this," he'd tell parents.
For the past couple of years, Rabbi Shimon Kashani has been concerned about Jewish education. While he saw several day schools in Los Angeles, he was worried that some students whose families couldn't afford the fees were opting for public schools, and therefore had limited options for Jewish education.
At the downtown YMCA on Saturday mornings, parents congregate at poolside tables to gossip, kibitz and trade jokes, while their children take swimming lessons. For the adults, these hour-long sessions represent nothing less than a much-needed respite from the grind of the work week.
Imagine a world in which every newborn child receives a voucher toward early childhood Jewish education and a free trip to Israel.
That's what philanthropist Michael Steinhardt asked 4,000 delegates to the North American Jewish federation system's General Assembly to consider earlier this month.
The "Newborn Gift" would be part of an overall investment in strengthening Jewish education that Steinhardt is proposing. He told delegates that he was willing to contribute $10 million to the project, which he called the Fund for Our Jewish Future -- on condition that his contribution represent no more than 10 percent of the total fund.
In other words, the former Wall Street tycoon was challenging the audience to raise at least $90 million for Jewish education in the Diaspora.
As he watched his students play basketball, Rabbi Yochanan Stepen's eyes lit up.
"I felt like I was at Staples Center watching the Lakers play, and I was sitting next to Jack Nicholson," Stepen told them.
"That excited the kids, because names from the news make it relevant," Stepen told The Journal.
He came into my office clutching an old picture of a rabbi with a long, flowing beard. He was in his late 60s and clearly in a hurry
Delight shot through the classroom of eighth-graders like a pogo stick gone wild.
The 35 students at the Heschel School on Manhattan's Upper West Side erupted Monday afternoon with giddy comments and questions about the two-week trip to Israel they were about to begin the next morning.
For many teens, having a bar or bat mitzvah is both a beginning and an ending. According to Jewish tradition, the ceremony signifies a child's transition into manhood or womanhood. For some teens, it also marks the end of a structured Jewish education. Some kids dread Hebrew school and deem this coming-of-age ceremony their educational swan song. On the other hand, some parents see the bar or bat mitzvah as a means to an end, leaving teens to discover where Judaism fits into their lives on their own.
There is no summertime lull at schools for Jewish education.
Even as day campers toting towel-stuffed beach bags invade day schools and synagogue religious classrooms, administrators are spending their summer scrambling to fill staff vacancies for September, at a time when qualified Judaic and Hebrew instructors are difficult to find.
The shortage stems from an increasing demand statewide for public school teachers, a shift in Israel's economy and what some suggest is a failure of planning by Reform and Conservative movements.
Jews have long understood the importance of study both as a religious activity and as the passageway to a shared culture. American Jews are waking up to how important it is to give their children a solid Jewish education so that they can choose the part they will play in the future of our people. The problem is that our educational systems are having a hard time keeping up, basically because we don't have enough good teachers for our day schools or for our congregational schools, where the majority of our children are formally trained in our heritage.
The promise - and problems - are writ small at WJCC's popular pre-school. While the preschool's administration has undergone some instability, parents can not fault the Gibraltar-solid record of the teaching staff. Indeed, Michelle Labgold, the preschool's director, stands behind the nursery's long-standing scholastic reputation.
Three Years Ago, Jewish Education in L.A. Received 1 Million Extra Dollars. What Did That Money Buy?
My two grandfathers held one another in respectful, yet distant regard. My mother's father, a Polish-born, Conservative rabbi, devoted his life to Jewish education and study. He had little use for popular entertainment, and, despite his keen intelligence, rarely appreciated the jokes the rest of us found so funny.
Joel Grishaver, everybody's favorite hip Jewish uncle, had been up half the night, schmoozing with a rabbi's son who was visiting from England. So when Grishaver answered the phone at 6:30 a.m., he was hardly prepared for the voice that said, "You and I have a date for lunch in Washington on Sept. 15. You've just won the Covenant Award."