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.
Stay connected. Follow our Builders, BJE Highlights,
Education Trends, and Event Updates.
June 2nd - We are excited to bring our community together for our Annual Yom Limud on June 2nd from 10AM – 3PM at the Jewish Federation Building. This year we will focus on Innovation in Post B’nai...
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.
The 2019 winners of BJE's Lainer and Smotrich Awards have been named. The awards are made to educators working in after school or supplemental religious school programs in the Los Angeles area. These awards are made possible through an endowment established by the late Simha and Sara Lainer and the generosity of the Smotrich Family Foundation.
The Lainer Award is given annually to up to three veteran teachers - those who have been teaching for at least five years. The winning teachers receive a $2,500 prize. This year's winners are: Tracie Waco of Wilshire Boulevard Temple Religious School; Marcy Stieglitz of Temple Beth Am; and Julie Blair of Temple Ramat Zion & Valley Outreach Synagogue.
The Smotrich Family Foundation Award of Merit is given annually to up to two "up and coming" teachers - those who have completed two to four years of teaching. The winning teachers receive a $1,000 prize, and the Religious School receives a $500 prize. This year's winners are: Danielle Stein of Temple Ramat Zion; and Marissa Deutsch of Temple Menorah.
Each nominee had letters of recommendation submitted by leadership in their respective schools and was observed onsite working with students by a senior educator from outside the school. A BJE committee selected award recipients based on close review of recommendations and classroom observations.
Congratulations to the award-winning teachers, and to the schools that employ these exemplars of Religious School education.
For more information about the Lainer or Smotrich Awards, or to learn more about RESHET-LA, BJE's Religious School network, contact David Lewis, Director of Experiential Education and Engagement Services at 323-761-8618.
In 1942, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America published A Model Program for the Talmud Torah, a guide to building rich Jewish and Hebrew literacy through after school courses of study. Its editors were Joseph Kaminetsky, a leading Jewish educator of the era, and Leo Jung, a pre-eminent congregational rabbi who also served on the faculty of Yeshiva University. While Jewish day schools expanded in number and student enrollment in the decades post-World War II, many Orthodox congregations continued to sponsor after-school Talmud Torah programs, well into the 1980’s.
By the end of the twentieth century, there were virtually no part-time Jewish educational programs under Orthodox auspices for children attending public school, save those sponsored by Chabad. Chabad supplementary school programs catered, by and large, to populations that did not self-identify as Orthodox. Day school enrollment had become ubiquitous for families affiliated with Orthodox congregations.
As day schools—both Orthodox and non-Orthodox—grew, parental expectations grew, too. The generation of day school founders—in many cases driven by interest in nurturing Jewish literacy, values, and community—found modest facilities, class size of an order less than that at local public schools, and test scores higher than those of students in the neighborhood public schools sufficient, alongside the “driving” Jewish dimension of their children’s education. Parents who enroll their children at twenty-first century day schools often expect facilities rivaling those of the finest private schools as well as unparalleled educational offerings, including the broadest imaginable array of extra-curriculum programs. Such aspirations are certainly laudable, but they come with a price.
It is not uncommon for elementary day school tuition to exceed $25,000 per child per year, with high school tuition exceeding $40,000. These charges are commensurate with the per pupil cost of education at many of today’s day schools. Although these rates—and the quality of education at Jewish day schools—are in line with other private schools, such tuition is beyond the reach of most families.
There are active efforts to add to the revenue stream to (variously) reduce the charge across-the-board and add to day schools' capacity to provide need-based tuition assistance. These efforts include endowment development and accessing government resources. Both efforts have met with a measure of success, yet neither has, to date, significantly “moved the needle” of day school tuition. Similarly, efforts to curtail costs (through joint purchasing, for example), however helpful, have not significantly changed the reality of tuition charges. Since personnel account for eighty percent of school budgets, and excellent education depends on attracting and retaining outstanding staff, the possibility of substantial cost savings is limited.
It is surely desirable for all Jewish families seeking a day school education for their children to have access to that opportunity. Yet, the reality is that such access is increasingly beyond the reach of ever-greater numbers of families. Has the time come to re-visit after school Jewish education not only for those families seeking to nurture Jewish identity, social connection and familiarity with Jewish holidays, selected texts and ideas, and basic vocabulary, but for those—of whatever denominational affiliation—seeking tools of literacy generally associated with day school? Have we reached a point of looking back to the future?
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.