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March of the Living Teens exiting Auschwitz

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...

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Support BJE

For 85 years, BJE has been the only organization wholly dedicated to Jewish education in Los Angeles, across the religious spectrum and in all aspects. More than half of the money we raise to provide educational opportunities to young people in our community comes from individuals like you. BJE's Annual Campaign runs from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. We’re grateful for your support and can’t do it without you.

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Event
October 20, 2021 at 1:30pm

The Early Childhood Director's Network comprised of Directors and Assistant Directors from our BJE affiliated early childhood centers meet monthly via Zoom to network with each other and discuss current developments and questions relevant to...

Lorit Daitch
BJE Builders
Mar 25, 2021

The Santa Monica Synagogue thanks BJE for recognizing LA-area educators and their successful efforts in pivoting to address Jewish education during the pandemic, and congratulates Lori Daitch, our long-time Director of Education, along with her fellow LA-area Jewish educators.

Lori has been involved in Jewish and early childhood education for over 30 years, and has worked for The Santa Monica Synagogue for the past 25 years. She believes that Jewish education occurs not only in the confines of the classroom, but in all areas of synagogue life and throughout the Jewish community. She is passionate about Jewish learning, understands where students are in their learning and how to meet them there, and works hard to assure our religious school programs are consistent with the latest models of learning. Lori strives for close collaboration among teachers, working with them in professional development sessions and encouraging the practice of new learning models. She builds deep and long lasting partnerships with parents and engages with students of our religious school on many levels. She thinks outside of the box and is always creating innovative opportunities in which students and their families can participate.

Lori seeks to ensure that all students are comfortable with the fundamentals of Jewish living, learning and values, and that they go out into the world with a strong Jewish identity. In past years she has regularly led groups of 8th graders on a trip to see “Jewish New York” and has taken groups of teens to D.C. to meet their representatives in Congress through a program sponsored by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. She also was instrumental in having the religious school teens of The SMS participate in TALAVI, part of The Jewish Federation Global Twinning Program, with partner schools in Vilnius and Tel Aviv, hosting visiting teens from those schools and taking many of our teens to visit their counterparts in Lithuania and Israel.

Lori has been an active participant in BJE’s Reshet-LA as well as the Association of Reform Jewish Educators (ARJE). The relationships she has built among her fellow educators, locally and nationally, provide her with opportunities to collaborate on programming and discuss new ideas. Lori is highly respected by her peers and recently was awarded the ARJE national honor of Distinguished Educator.  

Over the summer, in addition to creating a new online religious school curriculum, Lori met online bi-monthly with many of our teens who wanted to continue the connection and work on ways in which they could help support other members of our community. When no High Holy Day family services were scheduled, Lori created meaningful art and educational projects for children to do with their families, driving all over the Westside to deliver the materials. For Hanukkah, she did the same for the younger religious school children to build their own menorahs, and again with Hanukkah decorations to all religious school families attending “Light Up the Night,” a program she created for families to attend in our parking lot. Lori also has also added many new outreach programs during the pandemic, including a weekly online Story Time and Shema on Wednesdays and Havdallah every Saturday evening, plus holiday baking classes.

Lori, you are beloved and deeply appreciated by your students, past and present, and their parents!

 

 

BJE E-News
Jul 06, 2021

Even amid the challenges of the pandemic, BJE’s 2020-2021 Campaign exceeded its goal thanks to our generous donor community and committed leadership. Services required of BJE, by our community’s schools, educators, parents and students were significantly greater this year. Your generosity helped ensure that BJE was able to respond to additional needs, quickly and nimbly.

As we prepare to move into our new Campaign year, we know the needs will continue to evolve and grow. We extend our deep gratitude to each and every one of you for helping BJE continue to make Jewish educational opportunities outstanding, available and accessible to thousands of Jewish young people and families throughout the greater Los Angeles area.

If you would like to contribute to BJE’s 2021-2022 campaign, click here.

L'Shanah Tovah! greeting from the board and staff of BJE (apples and honey)
BJE Thought Leaders
Aug 30, 2021

By Dr. Gil Graff

The approach of Rosh HaShanah is marked by daily shofar blasts throughout the Hebrew month of Elul that precedes it, summoning listeners to reflect on the year past and to build bridges between the “is” and the “ought.” Rosh HaShanah, a time of introspection, is also described as the day of the birth of the world. Not long after Rosh HaShanah – on Simchat Torah – Jews throughout the world begin, anew, the cycle of weekly Torah study starting with a narrative of world creation.  

Of 54 Torah portions, only one relates to world creation and the earliest generations of humankind. Genesis opens with creation: “In the beginning God created…” (Genesis 1:1). God’s existence is neither demonstrated nor discussed; it is an underlying premise.

The Torah lays no claim to scientific truth and, as the late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks commented: “no unified field theory will ever finally settle the question of whether or not the universe was created by a personal God.” Science and religion explore different domains. While the scientist discovers facts and learns more about the laws of nature, religion deals with such questions as the purpose of life and how best to live in this world. Human beings did not create the natural order, but we are creators of the societies in which we live. My father, a physicist with tremendous curiosity about the world, is, at the same time, a devoted student of Torah; the two realms are complementary, not competing dimensions of human interest.

Each person relates in his or her unique way to God. “Wonder, or radical amazement,” wrote Abraham Joshua Heschel, “is our honest response to the grandeur and mystery of reality.” In a prayer recited by many Jews three times each day, traditional Jewish liturgy references “the God of Abraham; the God of Isaac; the God of Jacob.” Though each of these patriarchs of the Jewish people recognized one God in the world with whom they stood in covenantal relationship, they – as each of the matriarchs and individuals so inclined to this day – related to God in ways that were not identical.  

Humankind, we read, is fashioned in the Divine image (Genesis 1:26), endowed with understanding and intellect and possessed of free will. The Mishnah, a collection of oral teachings compiled more than 1800 years ago, famously notes that humankind began from a single ancestor so that no one should declare: “my father is greater than your father.” This also teaches that saving a single life is as though preserving a whole universe (Sanhedrin 4.5).  

In his book Understanding Genesis, Nahum Sarna reminds us that, in approaching the narratives of Genesis, literalism “misrepresents the purport of the narrative, obscures the meaningful and enduring in it and destroys its relevancy.” Throughout the ages, interpreters of the Hebrew Bible have focused on lessons to be learned from these texts. Sarna draws attention to the optimism associated with the creation narrative, and the profound sense of human potential that it conveys.

People, the Torah teaches – and this is at the heart of the High Holidays – are free moral agents, and bear responsibility for their actions. Initially given but one instruction, not to eat the fruit of a particular tree, woman and man share the fruit of that tree; each bears responsibility and is, separately, punished. Among their progeny, Cain slays his brother, Abel. “Where is your brother, Abel?” God asks (Genesis 4:9). Cain replies with words commonly translated: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

In Hebrew, Cain’s response reads: Ha-shomer ahi anokhi. The word “anokhi,” I, is also used in the Torah as a reference to God (as, for example, “I –anokhi -- am the Lord your God,” Exodus 20:2). The Midrash Tanhuma, a collection of rabbinic interpretations dating back more than a millennium, suggests that Cain is arguing that: You, God (anokhi) are my brother’s keeper. By holding Cain accountable, God affirms that it is Cain who bears responsibility for his own actions.

The Biblical narrative relates that, in the early generations of humankind, wickedness became increasingly pervasive. Granted free will but no guidance, people made poor choices. The Torah, literally, “instruction,” is a sourcebook of guidance.

The month of Elul and the High Holiday period remind us that we are endowed with the capacity to make choices. May the choices we make be expressed in actions that help realize the vision of a better tomorrow. In that way, we will contribute to a shanah tovah, a year of goodness.  

Dr. Gil Graff is the Executive Director at BJE.

Event
October 27, 2021 at 1:30pm

Join professional staff from JFS LA’s HaMercaz as they help us navigate through the steps to take when you’ve identified a student with likely special needs and how their organization can help.

Only open to members of Early Childhood...

Event
October 20, 2021 at 1:30pm

The Early Childhood Director's Network comprised of Directors and Assistant Directors from our BJE affiliated early childhood centers meet monthly via Zoom to network with each other and discuss current developments and questions relevant to...

Event
October 27, 2021 at 1:30pm

Join professional staff from JFS LA’s HaMercaz as they help us navigate through the steps to take when you’ve identified a student with likely special needs and how their organization can help.

Only open to members of Early Childhood...

Event
November 17, 2021 at 1:30pm

The Early Childhood Director's Network comprised of Directors and Assistant Directors from our BJE affiliated early childhood centers meet monthly via Zoom to network with each other and discuss current developments and questions relevant to...

Event
January 19, 2022 at 1:30pm

The Early Childhood Director's Network comprised of Directors and Assistant Directors from our BJE affiliated early childhood centers meet monthly via Zoom to network with each other and discuss current developments and questions relevant to...

Event
February 16, 2022 at 1:30pm

The Early Childhood Director's Network comprised of Directors and Assistant Directors from our BJE affiliated early childhood centers meet monthly via Zoom to network with each other and discuss current developments and questions relevant to...

Lorit Daitch
BJE Builders
March 25, 2021

The Santa Monica Synagogue thanks BJE for recognizing LA-area educators and their successful efforts in pivoting to address Jewish education during the pandemic, and congratulates Lori Daitch, our long-time Director of Education, along with her...

BJE Builders
March 15, 2021

As a Jewish early childhood program, the IKAR ECC draws from Jewish traditions, culture, and practice to offer children a rich experience in which their Jewish identity can thrive, their social consciousness can be deepened, and they can...

Dr. Deborah Parks Principal at Harkham Gaon
BJE Builders
March 9, 2021

For Dr. Debora Parks, being a leader of a small day school means wearing many different hats. Dr. Parks indeed does that, as she is a flexible, dynamic leader, one who assumes a variety of roles in her school. She is always giving of her...

BJE Builders
March 4, 2021

The Bay-Nimoy ECC values the virtue of learning, the act of learning and living Tikkun Olam, and living a life of integrity by practicing acts of loving-kindness as we learn. By integrating Jewish values, the history of the Torah, and the...

Sarah Escobar - BJE Builder from Temple Israel of Hollywood
BJE Builders
March 3, 2021

Temple Israel of Hollywood’s Religious School is committed to providing a meaningful and joyous Jewish education for its students and families. We value that we are an integral component of the Jewish journey for the many members we serve. We...

BJE E-News
July 6, 2021

Even amid the challenges of the pandemic, BJE’s 2020-2021 Campaign exceeded its goal thanks to our generous donor community and committed leadership. Services required of BJE, by our community’s schools, educators, parents and students were...

BJE E-News
June 18, 2021

By Rabbi Jim Rogozen

Recent articles and gatherings, including Prizmah’s Mental Health Summit, have addressed a growing concern about mental health issues in our schools. While creating initiatives to address...

Image of Becca Barish from Second City
BJE E-News
June 7, 2021

Having difficult conversations – with parents, colleagues, employees and supervisors – is part of any early childhood director’s experience. Learning how to successfully navigate these conversations so that each party feels heard, and progress...

Image of the six of the Lainer and Smotrich Religious School Award winners
BJE E-News
May 11, 2021

BJE Honors Religious School Educators

Like educators in so many settings, teachers and administrators in part-time religious schools rose to the challenges of this year in a huge way, pivoting overnight to digital...

BJE E-News
April 20, 2021

Knowing that students need more emotional support than ever before, David Lewis and his colleagues who work with educators from part-time and congregational religious schools embarked on an effort to help these schools sharpen their skills in...

L'Shanah Tovah! greeting from the board and staff of BJE (apples and honey)
BJE Thought Leaders
August 30, 2021

By Dr. Gil Graff

The approach of Rosh HaShanah is marked by daily shofar blasts throughout the Hebrew month of Elul that precedes it, summoning listeners to reflect on the year past and to build bridges between the “is” and the “ought...

BJE Thought Leaders
July 27, 2021

By Dr. Gil Graff
 
Moses, whose orations are the substance of the Book of Deuteronomy which, in the cycle of Torah study, Jews around the world are reading during the summer months, is described in the Torah as “exceedingly humble...

BJE Thought Leaders
July 8, 2021

In an essay titled “Israel: The Ever-dying People,” the twentieth century Jewish thinker Simon Rawidowicz observes that Israel (the Jewish people) has, throughout history, viewed itself as “constantly on the verge of ceasing to be, of...

children smiling
BJE Thought Leaders
June 28, 2021

By Dr. Gil Graff

Much has been and will be written about the recently released Pew study of American Jewry. Not surprisingly, the study...

Girl with Israeli flag
BJE Thought Leaders
May 24, 2021

By Dr. Gil Graff

I recall one of the first BJE professional development sessions I attended as a teacher at a BJE-affiliated school decades ago. The speaker was Rabbi Harold Schulweisz"l. The gist of his message was that...

Our Accomplishments

BJE’s impact is felt throughout greater Los Angeles. These are just a few
ways we’re making a difference this year.

Grant & Resource Dollars

Grant & Resource Dollars

2600000

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.

Engaged Students

Engaged Students

25,000

From birth through young adulthood, young Jewish people in Los Angeles are engaged in Jewish life through BJE programs and accredited or affiliated schools.

Number of Schools

Number of Schools

152

Across the Jewish spectrum, Jewish schools in Los Angeles receive a wide range of services and support from BJE.

Find a School

Looking for a K-12 school or Parent and Me program? Look no further! BJE's JKidLA website and Concierge Rachel Kaplan will help you navigate through the 170+ Jewish schools in the greater Los Angeles area.

Explore Our Schools

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