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.
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ICoP Workshop Series
The Workshops Series focuses on the Reshet-LA ToC fundamentals. The Workshop Series is for first year/new participants in the Innovators CoP, and their professional partners/lay leadership task force members....
I’ve had a lifelong relationship with BJE.
I remember well, Havurat Noar and Dor Hadash, BJE programs that brought youth together from all over the city. I went through BJE-affiliated religious schools. And when I was a student at UCLA, I had the opportunity to serve as a college representative to the BJE board. I served on the High School Programs committee. That was one of my first experiences as a layperson. My first internship as a freshman in college was in the youth department of BJE/Federation under Phil Liff-Grieff. I ended up going to HUC and getting a double degree in Social Work and Nonprofit Management. BJE was one of the things that really set me on that path. I went into Jewish communal work thinking I wanted to strengthen the Jewish world.
My husband and I got married and were both very connected to community. It was important to both of us to transmit those values to our children. We hope we gave our kids a love and appreciation for Judaism and their heritage. One of our first big trips as a family was to Israel. My kids did religious school, but it was very important to share Jewish experiences and life with them, too. You can’t just expect the Hebrew or day school teachers to do it for you.
Later, we encouraged our kids to become involved in NFTY because we wanted them to connect to the bigger community, and not just be insulated in our synagogue. Today, one of my daughters is working at a Jewish Day School (an HUC DeLeT grad) and the other one is studying to be a rabbi. BJE and its programs had an impact on our family.
My parents were very connected to Jewish life and to Israel. When my dad passed away, it was natural for them to want to do something connected to Israel. My mom established the Lewis Edgers Scholarship Fund in my father’s name. I lost my parents at a pretty young age, but I know how important this was to them. My sister, Deborah Lieber, is also very involved in the community. She’s active in her temple life, and raised her two sons to be engaged in temple and community life. We both felt very happy about the idea of carrying on our parents’ legacy. I was so excited when I learned that I could continue to put money into this fund and help send kids on BJE’s March of the Living program.
I think being a builder of Jewish education means instilling the building blocks of Jewish life from a very young age. It means creating a lifelong learning experience. Jewish education instills continuity and will help with future generations. Just to call yourself Jewish is not enough. You need to understand your past, to feel comfortable in working towards a stronger Jewish future. We all have a responsibility to learn and grow as Jews – spiritually and culturally.
BJE’s March of the Living program is the perfect way to get this accomplished. You must touch it, feel it and taste it, not just read about it in a book. I’m hoping our family fund will help build and grow connections to Israel, and also make an impact for our Jewish future.
Judith Alban takes pride in her life-long commitment to Jewish life and her contributions as a Professional in the Jewish community. She currently serves as the B’nei Mitzvah Coordinator at Temple Beth Am. Lewis Edgers was a Los Angeles businessman who co-founded Crown Plastics Inc. in the 1970s. He was married to Ronna Edgers and raised two daughters in the San Fernando Valley. After a visit to Israel in 1975, Lewis became extremely passionate about his support of the Jewish state. He helped raise money for the LA Jewish Federation and other causes and upon his death, in 1984, the Lewis Edgers Israel Program Fund was seeded at the Bureau of Jewish Education by his wife, Ronna. And upon her death, in 2001, the fund was continued.
It is the hope of the family that the memory of their parents’ vision will encourage teens to participate in BJE’s March of the Living program and will ignite a passion in them for the importance of Jewish continuity and a deeper understanding and love for the State of Israel. These were important values to Lewis and Ronna Edgers.
On January 12, a sold-out crowd gathered at Sinai Temple for BJE’s annual gala, honoring four exceptional builders of Jewish education – Cheryl Weisberg Davidson, Marlynn and Rabbi Elliot Dorff, and Craig Rutenberg. Attendees, from across the Los Angeles area, represented a broad spectrum of Jewish life. The event helped raise funds to support BJE and its teen experiential programs which engage youth in action and reflection based on Jewish values of helping those in need.
Among the highlights of the evening was a presentation by Ayla Kattler, a participant in BJE’s Teen Service Corps, a summer program of community service framed by Jewish values. Speaking of her Teen Corps experience Ayla said, “This program has helped me and so many other teens cement our Jewish identities in experiences and values.” It was announced that an anonymous donor has endowed an annual day of BJE Teen Service Corps in memory of Barbara Yaroslavsky, a long-time director of the BJE board who embodied a commitment to Jewish education and service to others. The day will be devoted to addressing the issue of hunger.
“The focus of this year’s Gala was on experiential education, and was truly reflected in our honorees,” said Miriam Prum Hess, BJE director of donor and community relations. “In addition to demonstrating a profound commitment to Jewish education generally, each of them is meaningfully engaged in supporting and advocating for experiential education for Jewish teens.”
The BJE Gala was co-chaired by Maggie Howard, Brian Kaplan and Susan Jacoby Stern.
At this time of year, I am struck by the ubiquitous appearance of Hanukkah candelabra with wrapped gift boxes at their base, alongside Christmas trees with similar boxes, at malls and office buildings throughout the city. These displays give pause for reflecting on the enduring significance of the holiday. The backdrop of Hanukkah is well known: more than two thousand years ago, in a largely Hellenistic world, idols were introduced to the Judean Temple precincts. Over the course of several years (167 B.C.E.-164 B.C.E.) a popular revolt succeeded in driving back the Seleucid Greeks and rededicating (Hanukkah=dedication) the Temple; fast forward a few decades, and Judea was (after continuing warfare) an independent kingdom, ruled by the family that led the rebellion.
Amidst considerable intra-strife over the next century, several Judean kings successfulluy expanded the territory of the independent state. The Judean kingdom was, however, overtaken by the Roman Empire. Two millennia were to pass before the next iteration of a Jewish state in the land of Israel.
Hanukkah is celebrated with light, marking the rekindling of the menorah in the Temple, after the initial, three year struggle. Those lights were to remain lit until 70 C.E., at which point the menorah was taken as booty by the Romans. An image of the menorah can be seen on the Arch of Titus – with Judeans led in chains to captivity – in Rome, to this day, under the caption: Judea Capta.
Over the course of millennia, the enduring light in the lives of Jews throughout time and place was the light of Jewish learning. In a frequently fraught and tumultuous environment, Jewish texts were a source of meaning, significance and purpose for Jews around the globe. Until recent centuries, Jews lived in a world that defined status by group membership; the Jewish collective was one such distinctive group.
Modernity, charactierized by scientific thought, secularization, religious toleration and a trend toward recognizing the indivdual rather than corporate standing in the political sphere, effected substantial change in Jewish life, starting in the eighteenth century. As individual citizens living in an open society, the light of Jewish learning offers, perhaps, an even greater opportunity than in earlier eras. Not only can Jews access the wisdom of Jewish teaching through Jewish study to enrich our own lives, Jews can, in a multi-cultural, highly networked world, contribute the values of a rich heritage to the communities of which we are a part. Through our actions, the light of Jewish learning can help illumine the world around us. This is surely a more enduring gift than any of the boxes ‘neath the holiday displays. What better Hanukkah gift than a Jewish educational experience – to be enjoyed at any point in the year -- for a child, family or oneself?
With best wishes,
Dr. Gil Graff is the Executive Director of BJE.
There are Discussion Group Meetings following each National Webinar by Shinui. Today's discussion group is to process Webinars #2 & #3.
These will focus on processing and applying the big ideas of the webinar series as a Network...
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.