COVID-Keepers: Jewish Education Leaders on the Possibilities Emerging from the Pandemic

November 23, 2020

Source: eJewish Philanthropy 


Jewish educators are not just looking to life beyond the proverbial cave and the day after COVID, but are continuing to do what good educators do: reflect on their practice and learn from their prior experiences. From these adverse and confronting times, educators have begun to see pedagogic practices that will impact Jewish education beyond the pandemic. Some educators are bold enough to declare that from this great disruption will emerge tremendous innovation, that the new normal will look nothing like what existed prior to pandemic, or even just that technology has opened their eyes up to new potential and possibilities. Some of my colleagues and I have dubbed these new possibilities as our COVID Keepers – what we think might prevail when all of this is over. We’re proud to share some of our thoughts on COVID Keepers below.

You’ll see a few common themes that emerge:

  1. Community and Connections Matter: Whether supporting someone during a crisis or helping to foster connection between two people during a mundane day, our work can play a vital role in people’s lives. We really can add meaning to someone’s life because we add people – community and connections – into those lives. 
  2. A Little Creativity Can Remove Obstacles: Experiencing a challenge to your thoughtfully planned program? Find a way to work around it. We learned over the last eight months that we have more tools to deliver experiences than we ever realized. And we all have capabilities to design and to execute in truly creative ways. Think how much more creative we can be once the “normal” in-person option returns. We can combine that with all of the new boundary breakers we developed during the pandemic. 
  3. There is Only the Whole Person: The field was trending in the direction of understanding people, especially youth, as their whole selves. The pandemic – and the havoc it did to some – accelerated almost everyone’s full acceptance of this approach. Jewish engagement and learning experiences must always reflect and take care to address that people are multi-layered with all kinds of lived experiences and complexities. Even when a global pandemic subsides, anyone at any time can experience their own personal version of a pandemic – where they feel lonely, scared, or unsure. Any offering based in reality, reflecting a desire to positively influence people, will speak to this whole person. 

With this in mind, we again share insight below from each of our fields – Early Childhood Education, Part-Time Jewish Education, Day Schools, Jewish Camp, Teen Engagement and Education, and College Engagement and Education.

Updated: Jan. 14, 2021