An intergenerational group of Jewish educators has issued a call to the grassroots membership of the Jewish educational community to re-establish the pluralistic network that was CAJE under the name NewCAJE – New Coalition for Alternatives in Jewish Education.
The new organization will incorporate the core CAJE values of pluralism, shared teaching and learning, and immersion in Torah l’shema. Operationally, it will be volunteer-led and supported by its grassroots constituency. Money initially raised will go to buy the intellectual property of the former organization, to outreach to the next generation of Jewish educators, and to produce the next conference.
A letter from Rabbi Cherie Koller-Fox, a founder of CAJE, endorsed by seven other past CAJE presidents, went out this week to former members inviting them to become charter members of NewCAJE and outlining a series of steps to make the organization viable. The letter was accompanied by an endorsement from some forty young leaders--Jewish educators, rabbis, and communal workers in their twenties and thirties--pledging their support for "the establishment of an independent organization that will bring together Jewish educators across denominations and teaching settings, will advocate for Jewish education on a national level; will create networking opportunities for educators to disseminate innovative ideas; and will celebrate Jewish life and culture and its transmission to a new generation."
The letter describes programmatic steps being undertaken by volunteer teams to get NewCAJE moving:
- creating a website
- publishing a new issue of Jewish Education News;
- scheduling discussions about the future of NewCAJE across the country;
- reaching out to a new generation of Jewish educators
The first learning opportunity to be offered by NewCAJE will be a series of webinars to be called Lehrhaus Online. These web classes for the benefit of NewCAJE will be taught by outstanding rabbis, teachers, and activists. The first three who have volunteered to teach are Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, Rabbi Ed Feinstein, the rabbi of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California, and Ruth Messinger, president and CEO of American Jewish World Service. The once-a-month sessions will begin in January (week of January 10) and be open to both Jewish communal professionals and their congregants and students, for a modest donation. Subjects taught will be of interest to a general Jewish audience and will establish CAJE as a place where innovative and challenging learning takes place.