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Building Jewish Education Across Los Angeles



Embracing the New Jewish Reality of Today’s Families with Young Children – Cathy Rolland
Twenty-First century life demands we think differently to meet the needs of Jewish families with young children. In this session, Cathy Rolland, RJE and the URJ's director of families with young children (FwYC), will share an analysis of the ECE landscape. She will share exciting opportunities based on learnings from “BUILDing Jewish ECE,” the Denver based initiative that incubated the recently released Standards of Excellence for JCCs and Synagogues with Early Childhood Education Centers, and “CEELI” the Chicago Early Engagement Leadership Initiative. Both initiatives were designed to create strategies and problem-solve with lay and professional leadership teams, to help our ECE centers increase enrollment, market to and better engage Jewish families, and build stronger connections between the ECE and their host organization.

Jewish Learning Afterschool Programs: A Model for the Future – Rabbi Yoshi Fenton
In this session we will explore the after school program model looking at its history, essential features, strengths and weakness. As more and more families and youth learners are learning less and less in the programs and institutions historically designed to engage this population, new models and approaches are required to meet these new needs and shifting realities. Rabbi Fenton is the Executive Director of Studio 70, a learning laboratory devoted to the revitalization of Jewish learning after school and the home for nationally recognized programs including the EDAH after school program, the Nitzan network, and the service learning program the Jewish Learning Innovation Corps.

Game-Changers: Creating Effective Games to Promote Higher Order Thinking – Batsheva Frankel
Many creative teachers have the excellent instinctual understanding that learning through games is not only valid, but is, in many cases, crucial. However, just making a game out of giving out information doesn’t utilize this method to its fullest and most successful potential.  In this interactive workshop, Batsheva will model her award-winning LaunchBox games (which explore big philosophical ideas through a Jewish lens) and teach her method for creating strong critical thinking games using her Game-Changer’s template. You will then be able to teach your own students this easy and fun method.

Doing the Math: An Equation for Change that Works – Rob Weinberg
If you are a new change maker, this session will introduce you to the indispensable factors you need to consider and address to succeed in bringing about--and gaining acceptance for--change in your congregation.



A New Model of Hebrew Education for the 21st Century – Rabbi Nicki Greninger
In this session, we will explore the innovative, successful, nationally-recognized approach to Hebrew education at Temple Isaiah in Lafayette, CA. Rabbi Greninger will begin by describing the process of change (when and how the community developed their new model) and then engage participants in a conversation about the new program - including successes, challenges, ongoing changes, and ways to adapt this model in your own community. For more information about Temple Isaiah’s Hebrew program in advance of the session, see

From Traditional Hebrew School to Learning through the Arts – Keri Loventhal and Sabrina Weisz
Valley Beth Shalom Etz Chaim Learning Center has developed an alternative approach to Jewish education in a supplemental school. Several academies have been formed to serve as an alternative to traditional Jewish learning. This model connects Jewish learning to a students’ interests in an extracurricular activity. The need for these academies is great, as studies have shown that families today are very busy with extracurricular activities, in order to ensure that children are well-rounded individuals. We believe that these academies will help fulfill the need for extracurricular activities and encourage more families to engage in Jewish learning who might not otherwise participate.

Transitions: Managing the Bumps that Come with Change – Rob Weinberg
We often focus our energy on the technical aspects of making change happen and forget about the psychological adjustments that change will require of everyone involved in and touched by the change. This session will distinguish transition from change and offer a framework and strategies for managing the psychological transitions that change demands.

Start With Why: How a Religious School Relates to a Synagogue’s Purpose – Amy Asin
At this moment in Jewish history, Simon Sinek's Start with Why TED Talk gives important guidance for congregations. But to what extent should your educational "why" and the congregation's "why" be connected? Maybe a lot.


Engaging the Whole Family in Learning – Rabbi Julia Weisz & Rachel Margolis
This session will explore how engaging the entire family in a learning model can enhance your entire congregation. We'll look locally at Congregation Or Ami's Mishpacha program, which has been operating for over a decade. We'll also look at key principles and practices of other family learning models around the country. Join us to consider how family learning can help your congregation achieve both educational goals and a stronger community.

Starting from Scratch: One Congregation’s Experience – Rabbi Steven Cohen
In January 2015, Congregation B'nai B'rith of Santa Barbara convened a 25-person task force for a process of study, consultation, and site visits around the country with the goal of transforming its supplemental education program. 14 months later the leadership team held a Town Hall meeting to roll out a completely redesigned K-5 Judaica and Hebrew program, with a heavy emphasis on Project Based Learning. Senior Rabbi Steve Cohen, Educator Jen Lewis and three members of their Education Transformation Team will share openly and honestly how their process unfolded, successes and challenges of the Project Based Learning model, and a frank assessment of where they find themselves 2.5 years after the start of their journey.

The Art of the Pivot:  Maintaining your Vision while changing your strategy – Rabbi Carrie Vogel, Dr. Yechiel Hoffman and Rabbi Bruce Raff 
Change is never linear.  Even with the best laid plans, unforeseen obstacles and opportunities arise through a change process.  All synagogues should expect these PIVOT opportunities and be prepared to make changes as they go. This workshop will explore the experiences of three synagogue leaders who’ve led change processes and found themselves in PIVOT situations.  Learn how they dealt with these situations and how they PIVOTed  

How Can We Keep This Going? Cultivating a Culture of Experimentation – Rob Weinberg
Making one change is not enough. No new model of synagogue education is going to have a shelf-life of a half-century or more. But how can you make experimentation an ongoing part of your congregation's culture? This session will address what it takes to stimulate experimentation, to keep the system from killing it, and to sustain it.

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