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March of the Living Teens exiting Auschwitz

The BJE March teaches powerful lessons of Jewish history and personal Jewish identity with a profound impact on participants. On Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Los Angeles delegation, along with...

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For 85 years, BJE has been the only organization wholly dedicated to Jewish education in Los Angeles, across the religious spectrum and in all aspects. More than half of the money we raise to provide educational opportunities to young people in our community comes from individuals like you. BJE's Annual Campaign runs from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. We’re grateful for your support and can’t do it without you.

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What's Happening

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Education Trends, and Event Updates.

Event
January 19, 2022 at 1:30pm

The Early Childhood Director's Network comprised of Directors and Assistant Directors from our BJE affiliated early childhood centers meet monthly via Zoom to network with each other and discuss current developments and questions relevant to...

Lorit Daitch
BJE Builders
Mar 25, 2021

The Santa Monica Synagogue thanks BJE for recognizing LA-area educators and their successful efforts in pivoting to address Jewish education during the pandemic, and congratulates Lori Daitch, our long-time Director of Education, along with her fellow LA-area Jewish educators.

Lori has been involved in Jewish and early childhood education for over 30 years, and has worked for The Santa Monica Synagogue for the past 25 years. She believes that Jewish education occurs not only in the confines of the classroom, but in all areas of synagogue life and throughout the Jewish community. She is passionate about Jewish learning, understands where students are in their learning and how to meet them there, and works hard to assure our religious school programs are consistent with the latest models of learning. Lori strives for close collaboration among teachers, working with them in professional development sessions and encouraging the practice of new learning models. She builds deep and long lasting partnerships with parents and engages with students of our religious school on many levels. She thinks outside of the box and is always creating innovative opportunities in which students and their families can participate.

Lori seeks to ensure that all students are comfortable with the fundamentals of Jewish living, learning and values, and that they go out into the world with a strong Jewish identity. In past years she has regularly led groups of 8th graders on a trip to see “Jewish New York” and has taken groups of teens to D.C. to meet their representatives in Congress through a program sponsored by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. She also was instrumental in having the religious school teens of The SMS participate in TALAVI, part of The Jewish Federation Global Twinning Program, with partner schools in Vilnius and Tel Aviv, hosting visiting teens from those schools and taking many of our teens to visit their counterparts in Lithuania and Israel.

Lori has been an active participant in BJE’s Reshet-LA as well as the Association of Reform Jewish Educators (ARJE). The relationships she has built among her fellow educators, locally and nationally, provide her with opportunities to collaborate on programming and discuss new ideas. Lori is highly respected by her peers and recently was awarded the ARJE national honor of Distinguished Educator.  

Over the summer, in addition to creating a new online religious school curriculum, Lori met online bi-monthly with many of our teens who wanted to continue the connection and work on ways in which they could help support other members of our community. When no High Holy Day family services were scheduled, Lori created meaningful art and educational projects for children to do with their families, driving all over the Westside to deliver the materials. For Hanukkah, she did the same for the younger religious school children to build their own menorahs, and again with Hanukkah decorations to all religious school families attending “Light Up the Night,” a program she created for families to attend in our parking lot. Lori also has also added many new outreach programs during the pandemic, including a weekly online Story Time and Shema on Wednesdays and Havdallah every Saturday evening, plus holiday baking classes.

Lori, you are beloved and deeply appreciated by your students, past and present, and their parents!

 

 

Left to right: Chana Zauderer, Dr. Natalie Williams, Cherie Friedman, Yoav Ben-Horin
BJE E-News
Nov 01, 2021

Since 1990, the Milken Family Foundation has annually sponsored Jewish Educator Awards, spotlighting outstanding day school educators at BJE-accredited schools. Each year, four educators receive the prestigious awards including prizes of $15,000 each.  The education community will gather in person at a Milken Family Foundation-hosted communal luncheon in the coming months to celebrate these outstanding educators.  BJE congratulates each of them and offers its thanks for their tremendous contributions to educating Jewish youth in Los Angeles.

This year’s Milken Family Foundation Jewish Educator Award recipients are:
 
Yoav Ben-Horin, Director of Global Jewish Education, deToledo High School
Cherie Friedman, K-8 General Studies Associate Director, Kadima Day School
Dr. Natalie Williams, Principal, YULA Girls High School
Chana Zauderer, Principal of General Studies, Yeshiva Rav Isacsohn 

Jewish education is the most effective means of ensuring that Jewish youth understand our history and destiny, the responsibility to repair the world, and the joy of doing so.

Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder, Lowell Milken

As a teacher, you may get acknowledged by your students, by parents, and within your school or organization, but an award that comes from outside your organization feels like recognition of what you as an educator do for the broader community. The Milken Award comes as a complete surprise – it’s not something for which teachers apply. It’s a chance to see your name counted among educators you know and admire, and it does feel like you’re part of something bigger. No teacher does the work we do in pursuit of an award, but to be recognized in front of our families and fellow educators is very meaningful.” 

Eric Hartung, former recipient of the Milken Jewish Educator Award and newly elected BJE board member 

Mazal tov to all of this year’s recipients!

For more information about the Milken Family Foundation Jewish Educator Awards, please visit their website

Young baby lighting Hanukkah candles
BJE Thought Leaders
Nov 29, 2021

Though it is a minor (post-Biblical) festival in the Jewish holiday cycle, Hanukkah has, owing to its calendar proximity to Christmas, assumed a particularly prominent place in the awareness of Jews and non-Jews in the United States. Hanukkah is often associated with a struggle for religious freedom. The plot line: the Judeans fought Greeks (Hellenists) who wanted to impose an alien religion on them; the Judeans chased them away and rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem that had been defiled.

Those who have closely studied the era recognize that the prevailing circumstances were far more nuanced. There were Judeans who actively encouraged the Hellenization of Judea, and the transformation of Jerusalem to a Greek polis. Though the Greeks were ousted from control of Judea, intra-strife among Judeans characterized much of the 200 years from the establishment of an independent kingdom of Judea (under the surviving brother of Judah the Maccabee) until the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans.  

That Hanukkah took hold as an occasion for celebration despite the short-lived phenomenon of a sovereign Judean state is an enduring lesson. While it proved to be quite temporary, the opportunity of restoring the Temple and exercising sovereignty – however time-limited – was and remains an occasion for gratitude.  Besides candle lighting for eight nights, Jewish liturgy includes recitation of Hallel – psalms of praise and thanksgiving – during the eight days of Hanukkah. Though we can never be certain that good times will continue, we should celebrate them in the moment and recall them with appreciation. 

Despite the collapse of the Judean kingdom, Jewish life remained vibrant owing to a remarkable project of Jewish legal development and Jewish education. Notwithstanding dislocations, multiple geographic centers, and cultural differences among Jews, a sense of shared history and destiny connected Jews of differing backgrounds with one another. There were elements of unity and diversity in Jewish life throughout the many centuries from the Maccabees to modernity - nurtured by religious beliefs, communal structures, and Jewish education and experience. The question “Why Be Jewish” would not have crossed the mind of a medieval Jew; Jewishness was a reality of being.

By the 18th century, many Jews lived in lands within which notions of “inalienable rights” – without regard to individual beliefs or economic or social status – were much discussed. Writing in Berlin, in 1783, Moses Mendelssohn, a Jew known in his day as the “German Socrates,” noted, to those who called for uniformity of religion as a requirement of participation in civil society, “let us not feign agreement where diversity is evidently the plan and purpose of providence.” States should pay heed to conduct, he urged; “leave us thought and speech which the Father of us all assigned to us as an inalienable heritage and granted to us as an immutable right.”

Over time, the free exercise of religion became an accepted norm, while Western societies became increasingly secularized. For many Jews, the question “Why Be Jewish” has become quite real. For others, the question holds little interest, as they consider Jewishness to be of no particular significance, simply a matter of ancestry.

Apart from the extent of engagement of Jewish individuals with their own heritage, Jews and Judaism have been topics of fascination and comment by others for millennia.  This remains the case in contemporary American society.  As part of a national Shine a Light initiative to raise awareness about anti-Semitism through education, BJE has co-sponsored a bank of resource materials for educators, families, and students; we invite you to access these materials here.

An enduring lesson of Jewish history from the Maccabees to modernity is that the vitality of Jewish life is inextricably intertwined with the vitality of Jewish learning. Whether during periods of turmoil or tranquility, Jewish education has sustained Jews as Jews, enabling individuals and a people to contribute uniquely to the world of which we are part. The flame of the Hanukkiah is a reminder that “Torah orah;” Jewish learning is a light, in these days as in earlier times.
 

Dr. Gil Graff is the Executive Director of BJE: Builders of Jewish Education

Event
February 16, 2022 at 1:30pm

The Early Childhood Director's Network comprised of Directors and Assistant Directors from our BJE affiliated early childhood centers meet monthly via Zoom to network with each other and discuss current developments and questions relevant to...

Event
January 19, 2022 at 1:30pm

The Early Childhood Director's Network comprised of Directors and Assistant Directors from our BJE affiliated early childhood centers meet monthly via Zoom to network with each other and discuss current developments and questions relevant to...

Event
February 16, 2022 at 1:30pm

The Early Childhood Director's Network comprised of Directors and Assistant Directors from our BJE affiliated early childhood centers meet monthly via Zoom to network with each other and discuss current developments and questions relevant to...

Past participants of the early childhood conference
Event
March 7, 2022 at 12:00am

BJE will hold its annual Bebe Feuerstein Simon Early Childhood Institute March 7, 2022. The conference provides early childhood educators with an opportunity to learn and practice new skills, network with other educators, and grow as...

Event
April 27, 2022 at 1:30pm

The Early Childhood Director's Network comprised of Directors and Assistant Directors from our BJE affiliated early childhood centers meet monthly via Zoom to network with each other and discuss current developments and questions relevant to...

Lorit Daitch
BJE Builders
March 25, 2021

The Santa Monica Synagogue thanks BJE for recognizing LA-area educators and their successful efforts in pivoting to address Jewish education during the pandemic, and congratulates Lori Daitch, our long-time Director of Education, along with her...

BJE Builders
March 15, 2021

As a Jewish early childhood program, the IKAR ECC draws from Jewish traditions, culture, and practice to offer children a rich experience in which their Jewish identity can thrive, their social consciousness can be deepened, and they can...

Dr. Deborah Parks Principal at Harkham Gaon
BJE Builders
March 9, 2021

For Dr. Debora Parks, being a leader of a small day school means wearing many different hats. Dr. Parks indeed does that, as she is a flexible, dynamic leader, one who assumes a variety of roles in her school. She is always giving of her...

BJE Builders
March 4, 2021

The Bay-Nimoy ECC values the virtue of learning, the act of learning and living Tikkun Olam, and living a life of integrity by practicing acts of loving-kindness as we learn. By integrating Jewish values, the history of the Torah, and the...

Sarah Escobar - BJE Builder from Temple Israel of Hollywood
BJE Builders
March 3, 2021

Temple Israel of Hollywood’s Religious School is committed to providing a meaningful and joyous Jewish education for its students and families. We value that we are an integral component of the Jewish journey for the many members we serve. We...

Left to right: Chana Zauderer, Dr. Natalie Williams, Cherie Friedman, Yoav Ben-Horin
BJE E-News
November 1, 2021

Since 1990, the Milken Family Foundation has annually sponsored Jewish Educator Awards, spotlighting outstanding day school educators at BJE-accredited schools. Each year,...

eduators attending bje workshops
BJE E-News
October 12, 2021

In anticipation of a new and challenging school year, educators from BJE’s Day School networks had the long-missed opportunity to gather in-person and COVID-safe, for training sessions:

  • A two-day Readers’ Workshop session...
JCF Wellness Grant image of a person's head with thoughts around it about mental wellbeing
BJE E-News
October 5, 2021

In 2019, BJE introduced the concept of Positive Education to its Religious School Educators Network. The practice combines the science of well-being and principles of Positive Psychology to enhance wellbeing among educators and students,...

BJE E-News
July 6, 2021

Even amid the challenges of the pandemic, BJE’s 2020-2021 Campaign exceeded its goal thanks to our generous donor community and committed leadership. Services required of BJE, by our community’s schools, educators, parents and students were...

BJE E-News
June 18, 2021

By Rabbi Jim Rogozen

Recent articles and gatherings, including Prizmah’s Mental Health Summit, have addressed a growing concern about mental health issues in our schools. While creating initiatives to address...

Young baby lighting Hanukkah candles
BJE Thought Leaders
November 29, 2021

Though it is a minor (post-Biblical) festival in the Jewish holiday cycle, Hanukkah has, owing to its calendar proximity to Christmas, assumed a particularly prominent place in the awareness of Jews and non-Jews in the United States. Hanukkah...

college students
BJE Thought Leaders
September 17, 2021

Much has been written of late about the experiences of Jewish students as they proceed to colleges across the country.  Last month, I read the following:

There are about 300-350,000 Jewish students at our American...

L'Shanah Tovah! greeting from the board and staff of BJE (apples and honey)
BJE Thought Leaders
August 30, 2021

By Dr. Gil Graff

The approach of Rosh HaShanah is marked by daily shofar blasts throughout the Hebrew month of Elul that precedes it, summoning listeners to reflect on the year past and to build bridges between the “is” and the “ought...

BJE Thought Leaders
July 27, 2021

By Dr. Gil Graff
 
Moses, whose orations are the substance of the Book of Deuteronomy which, in the cycle of Torah study, Jews around the world are reading during the summer months, is described in the Torah as “exceedingly humble...

BJE Thought Leaders
July 8, 2021

In an essay titled “Israel: The Ever-dying People,” the twentieth century Jewish thinker Simon Rawidowicz observes that Israel (the Jewish people) has, throughout history, viewed itself as “constantly on the verge of ceasing to be, of...

Our Accomplishments

BJE’s impact is felt throughout greater Los Angeles. These are just a few
ways we’re making a difference this year.

Grant & Resource Dollars

Grant & Resource Dollars

2600000

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.

Engaged Students

Engaged Students

25,000

From birth through young adulthood, young Jewish people in Los Angeles are engaged in Jewish life through BJE programs and accredited or affiliated schools.

Number of Schools

Number of Schools

152

Across the Jewish spectrum, Jewish schools in Los Angeles receive a wide range of services and support from BJE.

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