The Birth of NewCAJE


Source: NewCAJE


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.

Updated: Dec. 08, 2009


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A great new organization, and definitely worthy paying special attention to. One remarkable development is NewCAJE's multi-track approach to their initial fundraising--a perfect adaptation to the contemporary philantropic environment. One of the tracks is a series of tele-webinars (dubbed "LEHRHAUS Online") that will provide superb quality Jewish learning WHILE generating funds for the emerging organization. I call this method "learning fundraisers." Our Learning Company will produce the series, starting in January 2010. Each virtual event, accessible by educators and learners alike either over the phone or over the web, will feature one top-class Jewish teacher, scholar, or thought-leader. All tele-webinars will be interactive: participants will be able to ask questions both before and during the live event. Each session, to last approximately 90 minutes, will be recorded. The entire package (recording + learning materials) will also be available for purchase after the live event. I invented and produced the first Learning Fundraiser earlier this year for Makom Ohr Shalom, a small congregation in the Los Angeles area. The program featured Rabbis Debra Orenstein & Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. More information and access to the resulting evergreen info product at: 100% of the Net Profits go to the organization for which the event is produced (NewCAJE in this case). Stay tuned for the announcements of the first NewCAJE Learning Fundraiser (a.k.a. LEHRHAUS Online) at and (available shortly)
Just a few days ago I recorded a 26' interview with Rabbi Cherie Koller-Fox, the NewCAJE Facilitator. Listen to it here: and then please share your thoughts on that same page. If inspired, take a look at the first LEHRHAUS ONLINE tele-webinar with Rabbi Ed Feinstein, to benefit NewCAJE, at: You'll love it!

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