What’s Going on in Jewish Education? Answers from Leaders in the Field

August 13, 2020

Source: eJewish Philanthropy


We are getting a lot of questions about how our fields within Jewish education are doing at this unique moment. As the pandemic has continued – and the depth of its impact on life becomes more acutely felt – we continue to try and make sense of the effect this has on Jewish education and how our fields continue to adapt. We try to reflect, often in real time, on what we are experiencing, how we can support educators and families, and what the future may look like. We 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.

Some overarching themes emerged from our amalgamated contributions that are first worth reflecting on:

  • Jewish educators have been nothing short of remarkable, not just the ways in which they transformed their in-person learning into on-line environments, but in the ways in which they threw themselves into problem solving, strategizing, and forward thinking at a moment’s notice.
  • The resources necessary to bring about many of these changes have been necessary and high. Federations, foundations, individual donors, and families themselves have stood up to support places of Jewish learning in this time of crisis. But, as the economic impacts of COVID are still only beginning to be felt, it is also clear that many more dollars will need to be raised in order to ensure the long term vibrancy of the diversity of Jewish education.
  • Whereas once the mandate of many institutions of Jewish learning might have been to continue transmitting Jewish content and knowledge, it has been clear through this pandemic that places of Jewish learning have spent as much time, if not even more, on building and maintaining relationships, concerning themselves with the social and emotional well-being of learners, and creating positive and joyous online Jewish experiences.

Early Childhood Education
Update from Anna Hartman, Director, Paradigm Project, and Director of Early Childhood Excellence, Jewish United Fund

Part-Time Jewish Education
Update from Miriam Heller Stern, PhD, National Director and Associate Professor, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion School of Education

Day Schools
Update from Paul Bernstein, CEO, Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools

Summer Camp
Update from Jeremy Fingerman, CEO, Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC); Rabbi Avi Orlow, Vice President, Innovation and Education, FJC

Update from Susan Wachsstock, Chief Program Officer, The Jewish Education Project

College Students
Update from Rabbi Ben Berger, Vice President of Jewish Education, Hillel International

Read the entire report at eJewish Philanthropy.  

Updated: Aug. 18, 2020