Source: Gleanings, Volume 5, Issue 2
What does it take to nurture small successes into larger successes in Jewish education? Often, we take a program or initiative that works well in one setting (say one particular synagogue school or JCC) or city and attempt to replicate it elsewhere, yet it fails to flourish.
Yet there are, in fact, numerous stories of scaling success in Jewish education, with strategies that illuminate how this can be done. This issue of Gleanings aims to shed a light on these stories and strategies, with the hope that you are inspired to apply within your particular site or area of Jewish education.
We start with Dr. Jonathan Krasner, who grounds our issue with a history on the challenges of scaling success in Jewish education, taking us back 100 years to Samson Benderly and the development of the modern religious school, noting its own successful scaling in the post–World War II period. We then learn about current challenges to and the possibilities of scaling success in the synagogue space today from Dr. Rob Weinberg, which is followed by a piece from Nachama Moskowitz outlining a series of steps for us to fellow, so we can scale success in curriculum development and design.
Scaling success is also about how we best spread good ideas in a manner that is supportive, nurturing, and generative, and that makes the best use of networking principles. Linda Gerard of UpStart and Rabbi Scott Aaron share their story of applying a multi-level approach to collaboration to spark change and scale success in synagogue schools throughout Chicago. Deborah Fishman shares a similar networking strategy from her work network-weaving teachers in Jewish day schools. Dr. Gail Dorph discusses the successful scaling-up models within the teacher training at the Mandel Teacher Educator Institute, and Beth Garfinkle Hancock and I share our story of building high-sustainable performers and a community of trust during our retreat-based cohort leadership training for JCC professionals, all of which helps successfully spread innovative ideas and best practices.
Finally, we seek to best understand how to bring all the voices and wisdom in our field to the foreground as we create and sustain movements that can realize the positive change we may already see popping up in various corners of our field, known as “bright spots.” Drs. Shira Epstein and Andrea Jacobs share their experiences of building such a movement, leading our work to advance gender equity and shared models of leadership in Jewish education.