Source: Jewish Review
The Jewish Education Task Force of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland has released a report based on a year-long study of the educational approaches of communities across North America, to determine what new approaches or models of education delivery might best enhance the existing educational infrastructure of Greater Portland.
The JETF also reviewed the recent community demographic survey, web resources, program summaries, survey and research documents from JESNA, source materials from other Jewish educational organizations, and other materials. Communities of similar demographics or with programs of rumored interest were contacted. The communities contacted and researched include the Bay Area, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Ocean City, San Diego, Seattle, Stamford, and Toronto.
Several clear themes emerged from the study:
- Jewish education is a gateway to community involvement. Education creates communities of learners; it empowers people to become community leaders, and enables community leaders to be guided by Jewish values. Adult education enables parents to be resources to their children, and provides children with a model for life-long Jewish learning.
- The education community needs ongoing foresight and coordination. Every educational entity promotes its core mission, but nobody’s top priority is fulfilling unmet needs. Jewish education requires continual collaboration and cooperation - to facilitate marketing, coordinate programs, support synagogue education, identify donor interests and generally “link the silos” of educational resources. Additional staffing must be earmarked for this purpose.
- Jewish Educators need professional support and recognition. It takes exceptional educators to sustain exceptional programs; our many excellent Jewish educators have inadequate resources, professional training, and support to develop such programming. Professional development attracts, retains and inspires teaching. Recognition for outstanding performance in Jewish education adds to excellence. Other communities offer much more than us.
- Jewish Education needs to be more visible and accessible. This requires scholarships and marketing—scholarships for day school, teen and adult education, and community educational events; marketing strategies to reach those interested in accessing Jewish education. Many active students become active participants, donors, and fundraisers; funding education pays tremendous dividends later.
- Jewish teens need more resources and opportunities. Post-b’nai mitzvah kids are hungry to meet a circle of friends larger than the pool they’ve grown up in. Teens need more opportunities to meet in an educational setting. Cities with community-wide teen education programs have greater success in attracting widespread teen participation in Jewish learning.