THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT
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...
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.
Stay connected. Follow our Builders, BJE Highlights,
Education Trends, and Event Updates.
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.
The new year was sweetened for four exemplary Los Angeles Jewish day school educators when they were surprised before their entire school communities with the prestigious Milken Family Foundation Jewish Educator Award (JEA). Those honored are (from right to left):
• Yehudis Blauner, General Studies principal, Cheder Menachem
• Adrienne Coffield, Director of Academic Technology, Brawerman Elementary School
• Melody Mansfield, English/creative writing teacher, Milken Community High School
• Jenny Zacuto, Language Arts teacher, Yeshivat Yavneh
During four unique school-wide assemblies, the four educators were caught off-guard by Milken Family Foundation Executive Vice President Richard Sandler and, at Milken Community High School, by Lowell Milken Chairman of the Milken Family Foundation , as well as by BJE: Builders of Jewish Education Executive Director Dr. Gil Graff. Recipients responded with emotion as students and colleagues cheered their appreciation.
"What could be more essential to the Jewish future than ensuring that our youth achieve their academic potential, lead lives that contribute to improving our communities, and grow to embrace the joys and responsibilities of their Jewish heritage?" asked Sandler who has been involved with the Milken Family Foundation's Jewish Educator Awards since 1990 when the Foundation first presented the awards. "Outstanding Jewish day school educators are vital to this mission."
"By honoring the most outstanding among these important individuals with the Jewish Educator Awards, we seek to dramatically expand the support and recognition for teachers, administrators and other education professionals affiliated with BJE," said Lowell Milken, who originated the Awards. "By surprising educators with their Awards before entire school communities, we express in a very public way that excellence in education should be rewarded. And by capturing the imagination of students, we encourage young people to consider the adventure of teaching in their own lives."
After ten days of introspection and working toward teshuvah – turning/recommitting to becoming our best selves – we prepare for Sukkot, “time of our joy.” Despite the fragility that is inherently part of the human condition, we celebrate the bounty tht we enjoy and invite guests to join us in our temporary dwellings. The sukkah inspires reflection on the constant and the transitory in the world of which we are a part.
While Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret (the 8th day convocation that immediately follows Sukkot) are Biblical holdiays, the closing festival of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, Simhat Torah, is of later origin. On that last day of the “holiday season” (combined, in Israel and in Reform congregations, with Shemini Atzeret), the closing chapters of Deuteronomy are read and the cycle of Torah study begins anew with the opening creation narrative of Genesis. Fittingly, the reading for that day from Deuternomy starts with the words: “And this is the blessing….” (Deuteronomy 33:1).
The blessing to which reference is made is Moses’ words to the people Israel, before his death. Included in this blessing are the words: “Moses commanded us a law, it is a heritage of the congregation of Jacob” (Deuteronomy 33:4). The word “heritage” (morashah, in Hebrew) differs from the word inheritance (yerushah, in Hebrew).
While an inheritance is readily bequeathed, a heritage must be independently embraced if it is to become a meaningful part of another person’s reality. Torah knowledge cannot be transferred through an act of conveyance; it must be acquired through effort on the part of the individual who would make it his or her own. It is for that reason that Moses, in his final weeks, empahsized “and you shall teach them (the words of Torah) diligently to your children” (Deuteronomy 6:7).
The very last words of the Torah are: “before the eyes of all Israel” (Deuteronomy 34:12). Torah – the heritage of Jewish learning – is intended to be accessible to all Israel. Not only will Torah enrich and ennoble the lives of those who embrace it, but – teaches Moses – it will serve as a beacon to those among whom Jews live. “You shall guard and perform (the mitzvot), for doing so is your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the nations… they will say: ‘What a wise and understanding people is this great nation’” (Deuteronomy 4:6).
Torah is not only about particularism; it is about enabling the Jew to reach outward, as part of the human community. It is no accident that the Torah begins with humankind broadly and only then proceeds to the narrative of the people Israel: the Jewish people is part of the larger story of humanity. At Simhat Torah, we turn/recommit ourselves to making the heritage that is Torah our own: “And this (opportunity) is the blessing….”
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.