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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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A Program Of: BJE Impact: The Center For Jewish Service Learning
In Partnership With Sinai Temple, Valley Beth Shalom...
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.
by Dr. Gil Graff
Jewish tradition associates Shavuot with the experience of receiving Torah at Sinai, 50 days after liberation from slavery in Egypt. Passover marks freedom from bondage; Shavuot celebrates freedom to lead purposeful lives. As the Israelites are about to encounter Torah, the Torah describes Israel’s mission with the phrase: “kingdom of priests; holy nation.”
Unlike other nations of that time, including Egypt, whose exclusive, priestly class was, alone, presumed to know the secrets of the gods, all Israel – men, women and children – was to have open access to Torah (and non-Israelites could choose to become part of that community, as well). Through the study of Torah, Israel was to be “am kadosh,” a consecrated people. In the weeks before Shavuot, in the cycle of weekly Torah study, we read the instruction “kedoshim t’hiyu”: you shall be distinctive, set apart, consecrated (often translated “holy”); reciprocally, the Torah notes, God is consecrated through the people Israel leading lives reflecting the precepts of Torah.
As recently as 200 years ago, Jews, with few exceptions, recognized not only the phrase “kingdom of priests; holy nation,” they identified with the mission it framed. Today, for some Jews, the directive to be a kingdom of priests (literate in Torah) and a holy nation (translating Torah into daily practice) remains compelling. For some Jews, it is interesting and engaging, albeit viewed as an input rather than an imperative. For some Jews (those who have never encountered Torah) it is altogether unknown.
For those who understand Torah as a Divine guide to life, the rationale for studying and embracing its teachings is clear. For those who approach Torah as an expression of the Jewish people’s narrative and aspirations, the challenge of becoming a “kingdom of priests; a holy nation” likewise remains an enduring project. For both groups, the allure of Torah is such as to propel them to engage with Jews who have yet to encounter Torah, introducing them to the wisdom of its teachings.
Shavuot is a call to purposeful living; it is a summons to renewed commitment to Jewish education. Not only does Torah study ennoble the life of the learner, helping her/him thrive as a human being, it enables the possibility of contributing as Jews (grounded in Jewish learning) to the world of which we are a part. May our study this Shavuot, as throughout the year, inspire us to lead lives of meaning, drawing upon Torah wisdom to help build a better world. Chag sameach!
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.