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 Day at the beautiful Shemesh Organic Farm at Shalom...
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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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 Day at the beautiful Shemesh Organic Farm at Shalom Institute, in Malibu.
For kids ...
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.
BJE Impact's Teen Service Corps recently concluded its final summer session of meaningful community service grounded in Jewish learning. The two-session day camp was in partnership with Sinai Temple (Session 1) and Valley Beth Shalom (Session 2).
"It's about cultivating a mindset," said Jordan Grant, Summer 2017 BJE Teen Service Corps Camp Director. "We take different activities like pulling weeds, interacting with Holocaust survivors, or handing out water bottles on Skid Row, and see them through a Jewish lens - tikkun olam, repairing the world."
On August 8th, campers, CITs, and counselors worked with EnrichLA to help maintain Magnolia Elementary School's teaching garden in LA's Pico-Union neighborhood. In the morning, the group pulled weeds, cleared brush, and spread mulch, and by the afternoon, the garden had taken on new life. The vegetable beds were cleared and ready to sprout a fresh crop of vegetables for the coming school year.
In addition to serving as a source of fresh vegetables, the garden serves as an educational green space for the elementary school's students, in a city where such spaces are uncommon. This sentiment was echoed by Sydney G., 15, a Teen Service Corps CIT and rising sophomore at de Toledo High School. "Gardens bring joy, and this gives the students a new way to learn," Sydney said. "It gives them a green space that's full of life, away from the dirt and smog of the city."
"Not only does it instill a certain aspect of hard work and intention in the kids," added Lily M., a Teen Service Corps Counselor, "but it also helps them think in terms of food justice - who has access to what."
While BJE Teen Service Corps has concluded for the summer, the work of BJE Impact continues year-round.To learn about volunteer opportunities throughout Greater Los Angeles visit BJEImpact.org and see how to make a difference in the community.
BJE Impact also facilitates professional development and partners with educators to support meaningful Jewish service learning at Jewish schools, camps, and teen programs. For more information, please contact Alisha Pedowitz, Director, BJE's Center for Excellence in Teen Experiential Education, at [email protected], or 323-761-8621.
By Michael Schulman
The March of the Living trip was by far one of the most meaningful things that I have done in my life. It was truly something I will never forget. I am so thankful and privileged that I had the opportunity to go this year with an amazing staff and most importantly five incredible survivors. The stories of the survivors were inspirational, and I am even more amazed that after all the horrible things they have experienced they are able to maintain a positive attitude in every aspect of their life.
They were the main reason why I wanted to go on the trip. I am well aware that we do not have much time left with the survivors, and I as a Jewish teenager I see it as a responsibility to tell their stories. Another reason I went was because March of the Living is very important for my peers at Milken and the larger Milken community. For a long time Milken has sent the majority of their senior class on the trip, and as students we take a lot of pride in going. Like most Milken students I have waited since 9th grade to go on this trip, and it was by far one of best moments of my senior year. It was even more meaningful to me that three of the survivors who were on our trip were at my High School graduation.
I have taken many courses on the Holocaust in school, but this was different. It was much more personal and much more emotional than I could have ever imagined. There were some very tough days especially in Poland. We visited a mass grave in the middle of a forest where over 800 hundred Jewish children were brutally beaten to death. I could not even fathom as to how a human being could do that to innocent children. As one of the oldest in my family, I couldn’t help but think about my younger brother and my little cousins. While it was of the most of horrific things I have ever witnessed in my entire life, I use it as a reminder to do all that I can to fill the world with loving-kindness. As we walked out of the forest we cried we hugged, I felt extremely close to everyone on our delegation. Our delegation would never be the same after that moment.
Another meaningful part of this trip was experiencing Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s memorial day). This trip was my first time in Israel. I have always known that Israel is an incredible place, but on that day I witnessed how amazing Israel really is. In Israel there are no barbeques or shopping sales like there is here. A siren is blasted to honor the lives of those who were lost defending the state of Israel. We were in a park when the siren went off. One by one, I watched every car on the street stop, and everyone got out of their cars and stood up straight in silence. For a couple minutes the entire country stopped and united together to remember the people who lost protecting the state of Israel. It did not matter what age they were or what political party they stood for, everyone paid their respects. It was one of the most unbelievable things I have ever seen, and especially now in America I think we can learn a lot from the Israelis.
Also this trip for me was also about building relationships. On the Marches themselves I met Jewish teenagers from across the world from places like Australia, South Africa, Brazil, and Canada. Even though we are a small people, for just a moment on those marches it felt as though we are very large and very mighty. It is incredible knowing that all over the world there are people just like me who share the same Jewish values and belief in a Jewish state. After those marches through Auschwitz and the Old City of Jerusalem I felt hopeful for the Jewish future knowing that it would be led by these people.
The March of Living trip did not just end when we landed at LAX, now I have an obligation to share what I have seen and all that I have learned. The trip taught me what evil human beings are capable of, but I also reminded me what the best of humanity can accomplish. Going forward, I have duty to spread as much kindness, justice, and love as I can to rid the world of hatred. As I venture off into new places, the March of the living will always be apart of me. I am and will always be a proud Jew. Wherever I go and whoever I meet, I will tell them the stories, and I will them about the incredible people I met.
Michael Schulman, a recent participant in BJE's March of the Living program will be attending George Washington University in D.C. this fall. He just graduated from Milken Community High School and attended Valley Beth Shalom Day school - both BJE-Affiliated schools.
Partnering with Parents in a three-part series through the year for the Early Childhood Directors Network. Each session will focus on a different aspect of the theme.
Dr. Ron Wolfson will facilitate the morning...
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.
BJE helps connect individuals and families to the Jewish educational experiences that are right for them.
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.