As part of our commitment to deliver on our 2020 Strategic Priorities, we are moving forward on a number of key recommendations presented by our Jewish Education Task Force, which explored ways to increase access to and the affordability of Jewish education for all families in our community.
Work to Address Jewish Education Needs
Our Jewish Education Task Force identified a number of underserved populations in our community, including interfaith families, secular families, Israeli families, and families living in the regional communities, all of whom have different needs and interests. The task force recommended a multi-pronged strategy to nurture innovation, support new options, and better support existing options.
Jewish education is tied to the development of a strong Jewish identity, but many families face real obstacles to enrolling their children. Over 30% of local Jewish children live in communities with few or no nearby options, family life has become increasingly complex and busy, and denominationally-specific education is not always a family’s preference.
The changing needs of families requires a broader variety of programs that offer varying styles of instruction and that provide a range of options related to location and timing.
Our Jewish Education Task Force continues to explore opportunities for innovation, and in that vein Jewish Federation hosted a workshop on innovation for local educators and administrators working in the eight supplementary school programs, presented by Rabbi Yoshi Fenton.
Bay Area Rabbi Presents New Ideas on Education
Rabbi Fenton is a rabbi and Jewish educator living in the San Francisco Bay Area and is the executive director of Studio 70, a learning laboratory devoted to the exploration of alternative models, approaches and philosophies of part-time Jewish education. He writes and speaks on a variety of topics including innovation in education, part-time or supplemental Jewish education, family education and engagement, and the intersection of Jewish values and modern living.
Focusing on best practices for reaching diverse groups of community members and how to discover what their needs are, Rabbi Fenton led workshops with supplementary school teachers, principals, and Jewish Federation staff. As well, he delivered a program for staff at the Jewish Community Centre, supported by Jewish Federation.
Following the professional development workshops, the supplementary school programs were invited to submit funding proposals focused on their ideas to incorporate innovative approaches into their existing programs. Our Jewish education sub-committee will review the proposals and recommend funding for the most innovative programs.