The BJE March teaches powerful lessons of Jewish history and personal Jewish identity with a profound impact on participants. On Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Los Angeles delegation, along with...
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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I’m a product of the Reform Movement and have been blessed to have a variety of meaningful moments and experiences that have led me to where I am today. My mom is a Reform rabbi, which naturally meant that we were very engaged in the Jewish community. I was active in NFTY (the Reform Jewish Youth Movement), and was what I like to call “summer camp adjacent,” with so many friends who were devoted campers. In college, I was active in Hillel.
I’ve been fortunate to have had so many meaningful Jewish experiences which led me to want to help others have their Jewish moments and experiences. I realized that I could help guide them.
I think builders lay foundations, and what I get to do is help lay the foundations for Jewish journeys, identities and teachable moments. It is definitely my love of these cumulative experiences that led me on a path to become a Jewish educator.
I got my professional start working in Jewish camps – first at URJ Kutz Camp, where I coordinated the Gibush program for teens with autism, and then at URJ Camp Newman, where I was the Camper Care Director.
Working with campers with special needs was particularly meaningful, and as a result, I truly believe we can create space in the Jewish community for everyone to be their best selves and to foster a love of Judaism. In some ways, I’ve spent my whole life preparing to be a builder of Jewish education, so it’s exciting for me to bring my experiences and enthusiasm to BJE.
Rachel Dubowe is an Experiential Educator with BJE.
Increases in anti-Semitism and violence in schools, as well as the recent tragic wildfires across the state, have posed greater challenges for educators working with Jewish students.
In response, BJE recently hosted two video conferences for educators, titled: "Working with Jewish Students Through Traumatic Times."
The first, for the Professional Learning Community of the LA Jewish Teen Initiative (JTI), focused on working with teens. Panelists included: Chris Herman, Teen Director/Diller Coordinator of the JCC Pittsburgh; Rabbi Melissa Zalkin Stollman, Director of Lifelong Learning at Congregation Kol Tikvah in Parkland, Florida; and Rabbi Paul Kipnes of Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, California. The LAJTI is co-funded by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Jim Joseph Foundation, with seed funding provided by the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles.
A second, for BJE's Reshet LA Religious School Network, centered on dealing with these kinds of issues in a religious school setting, and included panelists: Rabbi Keren Gorban, Associate Rabbi and Religious School Director of Temple Sinai in Pittsburgh; Chaplain Jennifer Eaves Nye, Associate Spiritual Leader at Valley Outreach Synagogue; and Julie Brenglass, LMFT, School Counselor at deToledo High School.
Panelists shared their recent experiences and discussed what they've learned about working with Jewish students during times of stress, trauma and tragedy. More than 30 educators from across Los Angeles participated in the video conferences.
Rabbi Dalia Samansky of Temple Ahavat Shalom commented: "The webinar topic was relevant, important, and ever expanding. The presenters were varied, informative, and experienced in various kinds of crisis and response. The webinar format allowed experts from around the country to join our conversation in a way that would have been financially prohibitive in the past. It also allowed our time to be better spent in conversation rather than traffic."
For information about the LA Jewish Teen Initiative or BJE's Reshet LA Religious School Network, contact David Lewis, BJE's Director of Experiential Education and Engagement Services at [email protected] or (323) 761-8618.
As the calendar turns to 2019, Jews around the world are, through the cycle of weekly Torah study, reconnecting with the Biblical account of oppression in Egypt and the experiences leading from slavery to freedom. In the early chapters of Exodus, women play an out-sized role in setting the stage for the Israelites’ redemption. From the midwives who disobeyed Pharaoh’s orders to murder Hebrew boys at birth, to Moses’ mother and sister who protected and watched over the “illegal” child, to the daughter of Pharaoh – who, though recognizing that the child in the basket floating on the river was, likely, a Hebrew, took the boy (whom she named Moses) to be raised in the palace -- women are central to building the Jewish future.
I reflect on these women not only because of the Torah narrative of the week, but because of the passing, during the month of December, of three women of significant impact. Each, in her own way, was a builder of the Jewish future. These women were: Bella Bergman, Dorothy Greenstein and Barbara Yaroslavsky.
Born in New York, Bella Bergman moved to Los Angeles, post-World War II, with her husband, Rabbi Benzion Bergman. When she was a child, in the 1930s, Bella’s family lived in Israel, several years; from this encounter, Bella developed a life-long passion for the Hebrew language. Returning with her family to New York, she attended and graduated from the Herzliah Teachers Seminary. In Los Angeles, Bella taught generations of students in settings ranging from L.A. Hebrew High School to CSUN to BJE, where she served as Head Consultant to Conservative Religious Schools for many years. Bella authored Hebrew textbooks that remain in use; beyond the print materials she produced, Bella served as a mentor and role model to people of all ages.
Dorothy Greenstein was born in Otwock, Poland. Surviving the Holocaust (in Poland), she made her way to Canada, where she met and married her husband, Allen; the couple moved to Los Angeles, in 1963. Dorothy was, for many years, a beloved teacher of children in primary grades, at the valley’s fledgling Emek Hebrew Academy. In more recent years, Dorothy travelled numerous times to Poland and Israel with BJE’s March of the Living, recounting her pre-war and Holocaust-era experiences to successive cohorts of teens. That Dorothy lived to see L.A. Jewish teens and Polish Catholic teens join in cleaning gravestones in the Jewish cemetery of Otwock was a source of amazement to her and an inspiration to young people the age of her grandchildren.
Barbara Yaroslavsky, a “baby boom” native of Los Angeles, personified commitment to the Jewish people and to the well-being of others – twin commitments that she shared with her husband, Zev. Her involvement with BJE spanned many decades. A member of BJE’s Advisory Board, as recently as September she actively participated in a BJE committee meeting (there was no such thing as Barbara’s not being active at any meeting she attended) relating to educator recognition. When Barbara would come to a BJE meeting, it was not uncommon for her to be arriving from another volunteer project, board or commission and to be heading to yet another such function, that day. Her dedication to each worthy cause was boundless, and her impact – making a difference in each setting – was considerable.
Bella Bergman, Dorothy Greenstein and Barbara Yaroslavsky were builders of Jewish life in Los Angeles and beyond, in the twenty-first century. As in the narrative of the exodus from Egypt, the role of these women in their own time and in setting the stage for the future cannot be overstated. The generations touched by their leadership will continue to draw strength from their guidance and example; memories of them, as their lives, are an enduring blessing.
Dr. Gil Graff is the Executive Director of BJE
Registration is now open for BJE’s Annual Day School & Yeshiva Administrators’ Leadership Retreat on Tuesday, February 12th, from 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Please note the earlier start time. ...
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.