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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.
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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 37th Annual BJE Bebe Feuerstein Simon Early Childhood Institute convened at Adat Ari El on Monday, March 12th, 2018. Upwards of 300 early childhood educators from across Los Angeles gathered for a day of professional development, and the presentation of the Lainer Distinguished Educator and Smotrich Family Foundation Awards.
The day's events began with the presentation of the Smotrich Family Foundation and the Lainer Distinguished Educator Awards by BJE's own Betty Winn, Director, Center for Excellence in Early Childhood & Day School Education.
The prestigious Smotrich Family Foundation Award of Merit, which is presented annually to a distinguished early childhood educator early in his or her career, was accepted by Dassi Bass, of Pressman Academy.
"I feel honored, lucky, and blessed," Bass said. "To have the opportunity to even be nominated. I just feel so lucky to work in a place that helps and supports me and helps me grow in my Jewish educational journey."
The coveted Lainer Distinguished Educator Awards, were presented to to three long-serving early childhood educators, Robyn Hill of B'nai Simcha (29 years,) Dvorah Litenatsky of Toras Emes Academy (28 years,) and Robyn Solovei, of Temple Beth Hillel (5 years.)
"I truly feel there are many people around me who are equally deserving," Litenatsky said. "What makes me so deserving? I don't know, but I feel that this is a recognition for all of us. How we set the tone for these children is the way they're going to feel about school for the rest of their lives."
The focus of the day's professional development was "Seeing the Whole Child", with a keynote by Dr. Pat Levitt-Simms/Mann Chair in Developmental Neurogenetics, Institute for the Developing Mind, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and WM Keck Provost Professor of Neurogenetics, Keck School of Medicine of USC, and Director of the USC Neuroscience Graduate Program.
After the awards presentations and keynote, those in attendance participated in a wide-array of cutting-edge professional development workshops on topics ranging from "Children and Media: How it Affects Children's Brains", to "Crawl, Run and Jump: How the Body Teaches the Brain to Think."
To see more pictures from the day's events, click here.
Millennia ago, Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) opined that “there is nothing new under the sun.” Though, occasionally, it might seem as if something is new, Kohelet maintained that the matter was recognized in times past but simply forgotten. To be sure, humankind acquires new knowledge. For example, while we know more about child development today than in former times, Koheleth might suggest that seeking and applying such knowledge is a contemporary expression of the ancient wisdom of the Book of Proverbs, "educate each child in their way."
The year 2018 marks eighty years since publication of John Dewey’s classic work Experience and Education. For many people living in the twenty-first century, 1938 seems nearly as remote as Biblical times. For those attuned to contemporary educational trends and to earlier voices, much “new” thinking bespeaks a re-discovery of the wisdom of John Dewey.
Today’s Jewish educators struggle with a very basic question posed by Dewey: “How shall the young become acquainted with the past in such a way that the acquaintance is a potent agent in appreciation of the living present?” Put otherwise, in the context of Jewish education, how does interaction with Jewish experience speak to the life of a given learner? The act of communicating information that in no way relates to students’ lives in the present cannot, Dewey suggests, be considered educative.
Reflecting, eighty years ago, on differences between “new” education and more traditional approaches and methods, Dewey pointed to such contrasts as cultivation of individuality rather than imposition from above; learning from experience rather than solely from texts and teachers; and acquiring skills as a means to attaining vital ends in the present rather than for some remote future purpose. From project-based learning to experiential education, and from child-centered education, generally, to an emerging focus on students’ flourishing (through Jewish education) in the world, ideas expressed by John Dewey have, it seems, been discovered anew. In an age in which “new and innovative” approaches are, commonly, more valued than ideas of the past, “re-discovery” of the value of experiential learning is, surely, a positive development.
With Passover on the near horizon, socio-drama, mastery of skills associated with home-based, family (seder) rituals, and preparation of food – for consumption and for thought – are visible at Jewish schools and households across the globe. Come to think of it, perhaps Dewey was not the first to emphasize the power of experiential learning.
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.