The Conference on Alternatives in Jewish Education

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CAJE Legacy Campaign

Posted by jefflasday on February 9, 2009

We very much regret to inform you that CAJE will close its doors at the end of February. This may be a shocking statement, but it is part and parcel of today’s excruciatingly difficult economic environment. The mind-boggling part for CAJE is that we have just held one of our most successful conferences. CAJE 33 was well attended and inspiring. But even after accounting for the revenue from CAJE 33, the combination of past debt and the fragile economy forced us to take the unprecedented and painful step of canceling CAJE 34, then letting most of our staff go and preparing to close our doors. We still have huge debts to pay, including money owed to the University of Vermont, and we don’t feel right about ending our service to the Jewish people without first making an effort to pay back what we can.

Help us keep the honor and dignity we have earned by participating in the CAJE Legacy Campaign.

For many of you, CAJE has been a valued asset and a faithful friend. When you’ve called on us, we’ve responded with programs and conferences that have brought significant improvements to Jewish education. Now we are calling on you. Help us pay as much of our debt as possible so that we can close our doors with honor and dignity. We will achieve this goal if each CAJE member and supporter contributes $250. But any gift would be deeply appreciated, and all gifts of $100 or more will be recognized on the CAJE website.

Time is short for CAJE to pay its debts and your response is urgently needed. All donations must reach the CAJE office by February 27th.

Here’s how to contribute your tax-deductible gift to CAJE:

  • Make your online contribution to the CAJE Legacy Campaign by going to and clicking on the Donate to CAJE button.
  • Send your check to the CAJE Legacy Campaign with a check made out to CAJE at 520 8th Avenue, Second Floor, North Tower, New
    York, NY 10018.
  • Go to CAJENet at and enter your donation at the top of the home page.

Please do whatever you can to protect CAJE’s legacy as the organization that has served Jewish educators for more than 30 years.
We know that many of you will want to gain a deeper understanding of the financial difficulties facing CAJE, and learn what CAJE is doing to assure the continuation of our mission even as the current organization ends its activities. Please click here to read about how this financial situation happened to CAJE, the recent actions that CAJE leadership undertook to maintain the organization, and the next steps CAJE is working on with JESNA to assure the continued support of Jewish educators.

We also encourage you to participate in the ongoing conversation on CAJEnet:

Thank you for being a part of CAJE.

With great appreciation for your support,

Iris Koller

Jeffrey Lasday
Executive Director


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CAJE Will Not Hold Conference in 2009

Posted by jefflasday on January 12, 2009

It is with regret, that we have to inform you, our dear members and longtime CAJE friends, that CAJE, the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education, will not hold its annual conference originally scheduled for August 2009 because of the current economic environment.

As you are aware, this is a very difficult time for Jewish not-for-profit agencies in general and it is also an especially tough time for us at CAJE. Due to the current dramatic economic downturn coupled with the financial constraints faced by our members’ organizations, congregations and schools, the CAJE leadership has had to face the inescapable conclusion that CAJE can no longer offer our distinctive services to the field, and that we will be unable to convene the CAJE conference in 2009.

Unfortunately, this decision has immediate ramifications. CAJE has significantly reduced staff, as well as made other budgetary cuts. Sadly, we have bid farewell to David Frank, our Director of Conferences and Mimi Mark our Director of Development. Both David and Mimi have made significant contributions to CAJE and their presence will be sorely missed.

Without a 2009 conference the Coalition will not be able to continue as it has in the past. We understand that canceling the 2009 conference creates a loss of services for many Jewish educators. Thousands of you, our faithful members and supporters who attended our conference every summer depended on the CAJE conference for both professional development and inspiration. We know that CAJE provides support that allows you to continue and grow in the important work that you do. Therefore, CAJE is working closely with JESNA – The Jewish Education Service of North America – to explore how Jewish educators across the country can best be served, and how we can ensure that the mission and vision of CAJE will continue into the future.

The next few months will be a time for rethinking, and change. We will keep you informed as CAJE works with JESNA, to move the ideas and goals of CAJE forward.

We thank you for your efforts and commitment to Jewish education. You made CAJE the amazing organization that it is. Thank you for partnering with us in our quest to improve Jewish education.

For questions or more information please feel free to contact either one of us.


Iris Koller, President
Jeffrey Lasday, Executive Director

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A Note from Iris: CAJE 33 Briefing

Posted by caje on February 7, 2008

By Iris Petroff

I am very pleased to announce that beginning next week registration information and applications will be available online at for the 33rd Conference on Alternatives in Jewish Education.

CAJE 33 will take place from August 10 – 14th in Burlington, VT on the beautiful University of Vermont in Burlington campus. Conference Chair Joel Hoffman and Co-chair Melanie Birger-Bray in collaboration with CAJE staff and volunteers are doing a wonderful job of planning CAJE 33. It’s going to be a very exciting conference and I urge you to attend.

Though full conference information will shortly be available online at I want to take this opportunity to single out some of the new innovations that you will find at CAJE 33.

These include:

  • A new planning process. Rather than heavily making use of the more traditional conference calls, the program is being planned though the use of online wikis. Kol Hakavod to Joel for pushing us to model the use of 21st century technology. As a valued member of CAJE we want to invite you to help add your voice to the conference. You can become involved in the planning process by going to CAJE 33 planning wiki at
  • Modeling one of our conference themes of going GREEN, CAJE 33 will only offer online conference registration (at There will be no paper applications for CAJE 33. This will enable us to cut down on paper and printing costs as well as provide a more environment friendly way to process information.
  • In 2008 Tisha B’ Av falls on Sunday August 10th which is also the start date for the conference. We are planning for a wonderful Shabbat and meaningful Tisha B’ Av observance, as CAJE did three years ago with a unique Shabbat and Tisha B’ Av program at University of Washington in Seattle. To date, Shabbat Scholars include Richard Freund and Ellen Dreskin. This year, in recognition that some of our CAJE participants would prefer not to travel on Tisha B’ Av, we will provide a discounted Monday registration option.
  • Over the past several years CAJE has seen a continued decrease in the number of children enrolled in our childcare programs. Last year we had only 20 children enrolled, ranging in age from six months to eleven years. This decrease is due to the twin phenomena of older CAJE participants who no longer need childcare and younger full time professionals who don’t bring their children to a professional development conference. A significant amount of volunteer and staff time have gone into programs for very few participants and due to the very transitory nature of the program and the wide range of ages we have not been able to offer the type of high quality child care setting we know is developmentally appropriate. Therefore we have made the decision that the Coalition will no longer offer child care at our conferences.
  • For the past few years our Teen Leadership Kallah program at the conference was generously underwritten by a grant from the Reinhard Family Foundation. Last summer the grant for this program ended. Due to lack of funding we will be unable to offer the Teen Leadership Kallah program for CAJE 33.
  • We are thrilled to continue to build upon CAJE’s successful collaborations with other organizations to sponsor their events within the CAJE conference structure. Intensive conference within a conference programs will include:

    · The Consortium for the Jewish Family

· The URJ CHAI Curriculum Training Institute

· The URJ Mitkadem Training Institute

· Panim’s National Educators’ Institute for Jewish Service-Learning

· Challenge and Change: History of Jews in America

· Hebrew College and Siegel College intensives for college credit

· Creating Mentor Teachers: A Promising Approach to Teacher Excellence with Sara Lee

  • We are also very excited about the new and returning tracks for this year’s conference. Participants will be able to take sessions in one track or will be able to choose sessions from a variety of tracks, in the same way CAJE participants have for many conferences past. The tracks are:
    • Jewish Congregational Education: Evolution AND Revolution
    • The Early Childhood Conference @ CAJE 33
    • Eco-Judaism
    • Technology: Jewish Learning 2.0
    • Teacher Track
    • Methods and Resources for Teaching Hebrew
    • Education Directors Track
    • Israel @ 60
    • Who We Are
    • What We Know Now about Jewish Education
    • Judaic Basics
    • Hebrew
    • Hebrew Speakers
  • Additionally, get ready for some great late nights with the second season of the CAJE take on American Idol – CAJE Rising Stars.

This is but a small taste of what CAJE 33 has in store for you! Next week go to the CAJE website to register for CAJE 33 and to find more conference details.

I look forward to seeing you in August at CAJE 33 in beautiful Burlington, VT.


Iris Petroff, President

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