Linna Ettinger is Assistant Director of the Early Childhood Institute of the Shoolman Graduate School of Jewish Education, Hebrew College.
Rachel Raz is the Executive Producer of Space Torah, a documentary about Dr. Hoffman and the first Torah in Space. Rachel is also the Director of the Early Childhood Institute of the Shoolman Graduate School of Jewish Education at Hebrew College
Economic pressures and changes in our society are creating a new reality for today’s young Jewish families. A higher percentage of families of young children have two full-time working parents who have minimal support from their extended family. More parents are enrolling their children full-time in early childhood centers. They are relying upon their children’s educators to provide a foundation of Jewish identity and community. Therefore, the need for high quality Jewish educators in the American Jewish community is higher than it has ever been. However, because educators in the field of early childhood education are undervalued and poorly compensated it is difficult to attract highly qualified educators to fill demand. Directors of Jewish preschools have no choice but to hire in many cases less qualified educators and train them on the job. To help increase the quality of Jewish education our young children receive, Hebrew College’s Early Childhood Institute (ECI) is expanding its offerings. ECI now offers the basic course, Child Growth and Development, a class that is required for Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care Lead Teacher Licensure. This course is a recent addition to the ECI suite of programs comprised of the Masters of Jewish Education with a Concentration in Early Childhood Education program, Jewish Early Childhood Certificate program and professional development seminars and conferences.
Hebrew College’s ECI has created a curriculum that will give educators the knowledge they need to work with children from birth through early childhood (8 years of age) that includes developmental factors such as technology on cognitive and social development, foreign languages and language acquisition, contemporary family dynamics, moral and faith development, and the changing role of religion for today’s Jewish families. The Early Childhood Institute of Hebrew College is able to offer this class with generous funding from Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP), making this required course financially accessible to our educators.
The first cohort of 15 educators started their semester of learning with instructor Heidi Baker with great enthusiasm, meeting at Hebrew College after a full day of work. The 15 educators taking this course are from varied backgrounds; 7 of them are Israelis who will be able to enrich the conversation with authentic Israeli cultural experiences in the field of early childhood education. The current cohort of educators has voluntarily created a venue on which to share articles and resources with each other over the course of the next four months, all with the purpose of honing their skills as educators in the field of early childhood Jewish education and family engagement.
For more information about the Early Childhood Institute of Hebrew College, the Jewish Early Childhood Education Certificate, and Master’s degree programs, see the Institute's webpage.