THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT
Join BJE's co-chairs Amy Leibowitz and Madeline Miller, on Sunday, October 22nd from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm for [email protected] Community Service...
seeks to inspire Jewish youth to “Learn. Act. Reflect. IMPACT.” BJE's goal is for youth to engage in meaningful service opportunities.
BJE offers a wide range of support to day schools (accredited, full-time K-12 private schools), educators and families with the goal of helping ensure the highest levels of quality and accessibility across the religious spectrum and through the greater Los Angeles area.
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Dr. Alan M. Spiwak
I think what is most important to me is making sure that Jewish education is available to any family who wants it. Whether it’s religious school, day school, summer camp, or something else, it’s all about making sure we continue to offer Jewish kids great experiences in Jewish environments. That’s how they’ll become active participants in Jewish life as adults.
My own kids benefitted from day schools and Jewish camping, and I saw how it provides a basis for both a value system and a knowledge base about who we are as Jews.
My kids are now adults and both are parents. They’ll have to make their own decisions about Jewish life for their families. But I’m grateful we were able to provide the opportunities we did, and we always tried to lead by example. I feel blessed that they’ve already had their own engagement in the Jewish community as adults.
Professionally, I was trained as a clinical psychologist and my area was children and families, so getting involved with educational organizations was a natural fit. My leadership with BJE has given me an opportunity to work with a terrific professional staff, and to see all the incredible effort that goes into producing all the programs and events that BJE makes happen. I’ve also appreciated being part of addressing specific educational needs in the community and helping ensure access to Jewish education.
The new year was sweetened for four exemplary Los Angeles Jewish day school educators when they were surprised before their entire school communities with the prestigious Milken Family Foundation Jewish Educator Award (JEA). Those honored are (from right to left):
• Yehudis Blauner, General Studies principal, Cheder Menachem
• Adrienne Coffield, Director of Academic Technology, Brawerman Elementary School
• Melody Mansfield, English/creative writing teacher, Milken Community High School
• Jenny Zacuto, Language Arts teacher, Yeshivat Yavneh
During four unique school-wide assemblies, the four educators were caught off-guard by Milken Family Foundation Executive Vice President Richard Sandler and, at Milken Community High School, by Lowell Milken Chairman of the Milken Family Foundation , as well as by BJE: Builders of Jewish Education Executive Director Dr. Gil Graff. Recipients responded with emotion as students and colleagues cheered their appreciation.
"What could be more essential to the Jewish future than ensuring that our youth achieve their academic potential, lead lives that contribute to improving our communities, and grow to embrace the joys and responsibilities of their Jewish heritage?" asked Sandler who has been involved with the Milken Family Foundation's Jewish Educator Awards since 1990 when the Foundation first presented the awards. "Outstanding Jewish day school educators are vital to this mission."
"By honoring the most outstanding among these important individuals with the Jewish Educator Awards, we seek to dramatically expand the support and recognition for teachers, administrators and other education professionals affiliated with BJE," said Lowell Milken, who originated the Awards. "By surprising educators with their Awards before entire school communities, we express in a very public way that excellence in education should be rewarded. And by capturing the imagination of students, we encourage young people to consider the adventure of teaching in their own lives."
The beginning of the Hebrew month of Kislev (this year, Sunday, November 19) is a reminder that Hanukkah – which starts on the 25th of that month – is on the near horizon. The historical backdrop of Hanukkah recalls a time of pervasive Hellenistic influence and a war waged to restore traditional Judaean religious practice (centered at the Temple in Jerusalem) in the face of competing cultural and religious forces. Throughout the millennia, Jews and Judaism have developed amidst alternative religious and cultural models; diverse traditions among Jews from various parts of the world are testimony to a meaure of cultural borrowing resulting from these cross-cultural encounters.
Through most of Jewish history, Jews viewed themselves as part of a people and part of a religious system; “Jew,” as Judaean, referred to nationality as well as religion. The Biblical Ruth, embracing her mother-in-law Naomi’s way of life, famously pronounced: “Your nation is my nation; your God is my God.” A century ago, in the United States, Jewish intellectuals spoke and wrote glowingly of an American republic comprised of people of diverse nationalities and urged Jews to contribute to the developing American ethos from the unique wellspring of Jewish wisdom. Judah Magnes, Rabbi of Temple Emanuel, in New York, commented (1909) that the cultivation by Jews of their Jewish nationality – which he identified with national language, culture, history, traditions, customs and ideals -- would be of great benefit to the United States.
Over the past century, ethnic (peoplehood) identity has signficantly declined. Personalism rather than notions of “klal yisrael” (a Jewish collective) increasingly characterizes the Jewish sensibilities of most American Jews. “My Judaism” or “my Jewish journey” has replaced “we are one” as an expression of Jewish connection.
This change expressses itself in making the “case” for Jewish learning and experience. Reference to “survival” and “continuity” of the collective has given way to declarations about individual flourishing and thriving through Jewish living. Judaism is (not incorrectly) touted as good for family relationships, resilience, mindfulness and emotional well-being.
There are multiple paths to meaning-making when it comes to Jews’ understanding of the rich heritage of Jewish wisdom. Reflection on the two-pronged question “from where have I come and where am I going” (Avot 3.1) endures throughout time and place; the quest for meaning in life is ever-real. Hanukkah reminds us that, in an often turbulent world, the greatest gift we can provide our children and grandchildren is access to the wisdom of a tradition that can contribute to the quality of their lives (as of their ancestors’) and enable them to bring a unique light to the communities of which they are a part.
Celebrate Jewish education and BJE's 80th by participating in our Night of 80 Shabbats on December 1st!
BJE's Night of 80 Shabbats is a one night celebration where community members gather together for Shabbat dinner...
BJE’s impact is felt throughout greater Los Angeles. These are just a few
ways we’re making a difference this year.
Across the Jewish spectrum, Jewish schools in Los Angeles receive a wide range of services and support from BJE.
From birth through young adulthood, young Jewish people in Los Angeles are engaged in Jewish life through BJE programs and accredited or affiliated schools.
BJE leverages the strength of our vibrant community to generate public and private funding that benefits Jewish educational programs and institutions throughout Greater Los Angeles in a wide range of ways.