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Building Jewish Education Across Los Angeles

Jean and Jerry Friedman

Jean and Jerry Friedman are longstanding pillars of the Jewish Community. Following over a decade of volunteer involvement with Jewish education in Montreal, the Friedmans moved to Los Angeles in 1971, and almost immediately became involved with the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, serving on and chairing many of its committees including the Council on Jewish Life, Refugee Resettlement Program and, later, the Commission on the Jewish Future of Los Angeles and the Culture Committee of the Los Angeles/Tel Aviv Partnership. All of their involvements are motivated by a deep concern for Jewish continuity and a sense that Jewish education and culture were key to addressing that concern.
Jerry served on the BJE Board from 1982-2004, assuming a leadership role as Committee Chair and officer for many of those years.  Jean served as a director of the BJE Board from 1992-2000, with a special focus on arts and culture. 

In the 1980’s Jean and Jerry went back to study at Harvard under Lawrence Kohlberg, whose "Just Community" modeled a way of living and learning that became the foundation for two transformative educational institutions which they founded: My Jewish Discovery Place - now the Zimmer Children’s Museum, where Jean is the founding Chairperson (1991) and Shalhevet High School (1992) which in 2013, was officially renamed Jean and Jerry Friedman Shalhevet High School. In addition to founding the school, Jerry served as Head of School at Shalhevet until spring 2008. Through their leadership, the Friedmans have changed the face of both formal and informal Jewish education in Los Angeles.

“We believe BJE is so important, because through its programs, it facilitates both formal and informal Jewish education. That combination is the best way to preserve Jewish continuity.  Jewish educational experiences—day school, Jewish camping and trips to Israel - give us a better chance to keep our kids within the Jewish dream. Our relationship with [BJE Executive Director] Gil Graff and his wise counsel, helped shape the vision for Shalhevet which used the methodology of Jewish camping to develop an environment for the school where kids could internalize Jewish law. We believe that this increases the percentage of kids who live a Jewish life.”

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