On Sunday December 30, 2012, the Scheck Hillel Community School hosted the world’s first JEDcamp, a unique, participant-driven professional development conference for teachers of Judaic Studies. The event, called JEDcamp South Florida (JEDcampSoFlo) brought together forty educators from seventeen different schools, synagogues, institutions and agencies of Jewish education in South Florida.
The program is modeled after EdCamp, which was created to promoting organic, participant-driven professional development for K-12 educators worldwide. In the spirit of that vision, Rabbi Meir Wexler, Rabbi Yossi Kahan and Seth Dimbert teamed up to put the day together and the trio was ecstatic with the results.
The JEDcamp participants arrived in the morning to mingle for a few minutes before being introduced to the day’s schedule, which was broken up into three session slots… with no content. Dimbert prodded attendees to fill the slots with topics they were interested in sharing and learning more about and they quickly filled the board with twelve sessions, including topics like “Engaging Teens After Bnai Mitzvah,” “Experiential Service Learning through Torah Values,” “Developmentally Appropriate Prayer Practices for Young Children” and “Creating a 21st Century Judaic Studies Curriculum.”
Rabbi Meir Wexler, one of the cofounders of JedcampSoFlo wrote on his blog:
"It really was an epic event. Keep in mind that Jedcamp is not sponsored. Jedcamp is not something that educators 'have to do.' It is not about technology- though that could be a topic if educators so deemed.
The Jedcamp model works because educators who attend have no ulterior motives other than the fact that they are passionate about education and want to see our schools and institutions continue to improve so our student can grow up to be quality Jewish people, strong Jewish leaders and active contributors to improve and enhance our society and world at large. Educators came because educators wanted to come.
And so there is no doubt this is the first of many Jedcamps to arise all over North America and hopefully the world."