For most part-time Religious School programs, summer is a natural time to take a break and recharge, along with their students. While late summer usually involves planning, fine-tuning of programming, and opportunities for teachers to participate in professional development, this summer members of BJE’s Religious School Educators’ Network continued their collaborative work throughout the summer, with twice weekly zoom meetings. In addition to holding regular space for educators to have open discussion about their successes and challenges, BJE staff brought a variety of topics and resources to the group, including technology and tools, virtual teen and pre-teen engagement, addressing racial injustice, and High Holiday planning.
Religious School Directors have expressed gratitude for the work of the network and BJE’s leadership:
I’ve always found BJE helpful, but what they’ve done since the pandemic began is just extraordinary. A huge variety of online resources suddenly popped up, but most of us needed guidance about how to best use these new tools, and which ones really made sense for us. BJE brought us together to help us collaborate with our colleagues and learn from each other and the BJE professionals. In a sense, we became the students, and then we were able to come back and bring this learning to our teachers. We would otherwise each have had to do all this on our own. I don’t know that other cities have this kind of network, so I think we’re incredibly lucky to have BJE here in LA.
- Amir Orbach, Director of Jewish Learning Community, Temple Beth Am
BJE’s Religious School Educators’ Network has been so valuable to me as an educator during this period. In addition to helping us educate ourselves on some of the skills and technology that have emerged to help adapt our programs, BJE has played an important role in bringing us together in a safe space, to ask each other questions, tackle difficult topics, and express our frustrations with the challenges we’re all facing. It’s really helpful to know as we move forward with the new school year that none of us is in a bubble.
- Stephanie Schwartz, Wise Religious School Director
For more information about BJE’s Religious School Educators’ Network, contact David Lewis, Director, BJE Center for Excellence in Part-Time Jewish Education at [email protected] or 323-761-8618.