Each August, as a new school year approaches, the cycle of Torah study is in its “home stretch,” nearing the close of the fifth and final book of the Torah, Devarim. Devarim means “words.” It is a title drawn from the opening phrase of the book: “These are the words that Moses spoke….” The context is dramatic: Moses, liberator, lawgiver and leader of the Israelites for forty years, will soon die; the book is his farewell addresses, delivered over the last weeks of his life. Devarim offers much on which to reflect, as a new school year begins.
BJE was fortunate to have four outstanding interns this summer – meet Abby, Noah, Sophie and Yonina!
Rising 12th graders Abby Shane, of Palos Verdes High School, Noah Weiss, of Calabasas High School, and Sophie Shorten, rising 11th grader at de Toledo High School, joined BJE through the Jewish Federation’s Community Internship Program, part of the LA Jewish Teen Initiative. Participants worked four days a week, and met as a group on Fridays for skill-building in areas such a communication and professional development.
I’ve had a lifelong relationship with BJE.
Not so long ago, Jewish preschools were thought of as “child care” and/or a way for their parent organizations (synagogues and day schools) to increase membership. In the past few decades, these programs have moved far beyond those limited roles, gaining in perceived importance. As the benefits and importance of early childhood education have become more widely acknowledged, parents have bought in - preschool has pretty much become a “given” among Jewish parents.
Shavuot, celebrated this year, June 9-10, is both an agricultural holiday and a festival associated in rabbinic tradition with the experience of Torah at Sinai. In describing the Israelites as they stood at Mt. Sinai, the Torah comments: va-yichan sham yisrael, Israel camped there. Noting the use of the singular in the verb form “camped,” Rashi famously observed that the Israelites (plural) were – at that moment – as one nation with one heart.
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.
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.
This week, BJE-affiliated day schools were engaged in the important work of leadership development and skills building, facilitated by Rae Ringel, a faculty member at the Georgetown University Institute for Transformational Leadership and a leading expert in fundraising, board development and communication.