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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Celebrate Shabbat and Jewish education by participating in BJE Celebrates Shabbat on November 30, 2018!
BJE Celebrates Shabbat is a one-night celebration where community members gather together for Shabbat dinner ...
Dr. Alan M. Spiwak
BJE Past President
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.
On October 21, more than 75 community members from across Greater Los Angeles joined BJE and Mountains Restoration Trust for a family-friendly day of community service learning at Malibu Creek State Park. The morning's activities followed BJE Impact's service learning model of: learning, action and reflection. Led, by BJE Impact's Rachel Dubowe, everyone discussed the Jewish values that framed our work with the natural environment, both before and after the gardening,
Individuals of all ages and affiliations showed up to help, including entire families and several groups of boy scouts and girl scouts.
Participants planted native vegetation in the area, such as purple needle grass and creeping wildrye. They also mulched, weeded, and watered new and young plants in order to help assure that they make it into adulthood.
This amazing community service day was co-chaired by sisters-in-law Amy Leibowitz (a BJE board member) and Kimberly Schwarz.
To see more photos from the day, click here.
A spring service day is being planned. For information about this or other future service project opportunities with BJE, contact Millie Wexler at 323-761-8631.
by Dr. Gil Graff
The Hebrew months of Av and Elul evoke reflections on dimensions of Jewish thought and experience well worth considering, as we approach the New Year. The Ninth of Av (this year observed from sundown July 21 - sundown July 22) is associated, primarily, with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the ensuing dispersion of much of Judea's Jewish population; it is traditionally marked as a day of collective mourning. The month of Elul i(which this year begins at sundown August 10) is a time of individual soul-searching and commitment to self-improvement, as the "Days of Awe" (Rosh HaShanah - sundown September 9 - 11 and Yom Kippur sundown September 18 - 19) draw near.
Aspects of these consecutive months are both contrasting and complementary. The Ninth of Av is a day of communal commemoration. The heshbon ha-nefesh (soul-searching) of Elul, during which the shofar is, daily, sounded, is an exercise in individual growth and renewal. Each of these dimensions of life, Jewish wisdom suggests, is essential.
There are approaches to life that focus exclusively on development of the self, and paths that call for abdicating any sense of individuality to become part of a greater whole. Neither self-absorption nor self-abnegation is a Jewish ideal. As Hillel observed two millennia ago: "if I am not for myself, who is for me, and if I am only for myself, what am I?" To flourish in the world as a human being is to develop the self and, at the same time, to contribute to the well-being of others. Hillel further instructed: "do not separate yourself from the community."
The Ninth of Av serves as a reminder that the word Jew derives from Judea, referring to a way of life and a national origin. During the months of Av and Elul, the annual cycle of weekly Torah study draws its readers' attention to the Book of Deuteronomy. As Moses, nearing the end of his life, instructs the Israelites to teach successive generations (a major theme of this closing book of the Torah), religious life and peoplehood, he conveys, are inextricably, intertwined.
Elul is a month of preparation for Rosh HaShanah, celebrating the creation of the world. Av and Elul together remind us of the importance of responsibility to ourselves and, no less, of responsibility to others; of the texts and experiences that have shaped a collective sense of Jewish identity; and that Jews and Judaism are part of the larger story of humankind. These are the motifs that point toward the start of a New Year. May our individual and shared reflections of the season inspire us to a shanah tovah, a year of goodness.
Dr. Gil Graff is Executive Director of BJE
Photo credit: Lauren Reeves and KAM Isaiah Israel
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.