A National Catalyst for Jewish Education

February 17, 2015

Source: eJewish Philanthropy


After meeting to discuss the need for a collective Jewish educational catalyst, the 28 federations that make up the National Federation/Agency Alliance recommended the formation of a new Jewish Education and Engagement Planning Unit within the Jewish Federations system. That unit was approved recently by JFNA’s Executive Committee. The unit will foster relationships and partnerships between federations, as well as with key outside organizations that are devoted to fostering Jewish education. Additionally, it will commission studies and convene experts to examine issues that are important and common to local federations, and it will inspire and mediate collective attention and action.


In so doing, The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) – which represents 152 Jewish federations and more than 300 communities – will help local federations harness and grow the important educational work they are already doing. This national Jewish educational unit will provide direction, guidance, and resources to local federations; offering a macrocosm of the leadership that the local federations bring to their individual communities.


With a focus as vast and varied as Jewish educational programs in the United States and Canada, it will be very important for the Jewish Education and Engagement Planning Unit, with the assistance of an active lay advisory committee, to prioritize a strong focus on one or two main projects which it can realistically and effectively tackle within its first two years.


With a commitment of three years of funding from the National Federation/Agency Alliance the unit is poised to catalyze existing successful programming and staff. JFNA will oversee the new unit and will look to local leaders, and partner with other stakeholders in the Jewish education field, to enable implementation of its plans.


There are those who may question adding this new effort to the Jewish Federations’ very full plate of issues and agendas. The challenges of addressing and contributing to the Jewish education agenda are not new. But the reality is that Jewish Federations are in this business, substantially so as measured by the resources they invest in many formal and informal education and engagement programs. The importance of our strengthening that work through collective learning and action only grows greater as we reflect on the demographic realities captured by last year’s Pew research study on the American Jewish community.


Read more at eJewish Philanthropy.

Updated: Feb. 25, 2015