Ever since the 1992 National Jewish Population Study, many of us—educators, clergy, philanthropists—have been engaged in heroic efforts to revitalize congregational education. While we have had made notable progress for which we should be rightly proud, this field has remained stubbornly resistant to deep transformation. This past October, The Davidson School of JTS brought together a group of scholars, rabbis, educators, and change practitioners from across denominations and North America to learn together and begin to design an innovative path forward. Out of this gathering came a renewed sense of hope, a desire for collaboration among diverse institutions, and a revitalized sense of transformative purpose.
In this issue of Gleanings, we present a selection of the papers that participants wrote for our deliberation which stimulated rich dialogue. Included first in this issue is a nascent, overarching vision of education toward covenantal community, which emerged during the gathering. Despite the many efforts of the last two decades, what we have lacked is a common vision of what we see as emerging among congregations engaged in change, which is not unique to each congregation, but rather weaves these individual inventive efforts together into a larger whole, providing transformative direction, and energizing further change.
Looking toward the future, we also offer a set of principles that surfaced during the discussion for how educators, clergy, families, consultants, federations, and philanthropists could be working together to make this vision concrete in the lives of more and more Jews. It is time for us to come together across denominational boundaries, professional and lay roles, and throughout North America, akin to a social movement, and finally transform congregational education into a powerful builder of engaged Jewish life for the next generation.
This issue contains the following articles:
- A Draft Statement of Shared and Renewed Purpose - By Dr. Bill Robinson
- The Unique Place Of Congregational Education In The Jewish Educational Lives Of Children, Teens, And Families - Dr. Rob Weinberg
- The State of Synagogues - Cantor Adina Frydman
- Leading in Front, Beside, and in the Middle - Rabbi Hayim Herring, PhD
- Insights from the Thought of Abraham Joshua Heschel Toward a Reconception of Congregational Education - Peter A. Geffen
- Changing Synagogues and Changing Schools - Dr. Isa Aron
- Good Education and Meaningful Congregational Life - Dr. Bill Robinson
- So, Where Do We Go From Here?