CAJE 33

The Conference on Alternatives in Jewish Education

Posts Tagged ‘Joel M. Hoffman’

CAJE 33 – One Year Out

Posted by Joel H. on August 12, 2009

As we look back on the past year, we wanted to offer a note with a few thoughts about CAJE and some updates we think you’ll be interested in.

  Joel M. Hoffman, PhD & Mel Birger-Bray
  Chairs

Where Are They Now?

David Frank
Abby Eisenberg
Joel Hoffman
Mel Birger-Bray
Mary Lou Allen
Jeff Lasday
Yoram Schwell
What about you?

David Frank

David FrankDavid Frank has returned to his artistic roots to work as a photographer — Did you know that he used to teach photography? — and his work has been accepted into several prestigious shows. His web site showcases some of his stunning shots. Take a look! (And why not buy a print or two? We [Joel and Mel] wouldn’t be surprised to see them in museums in a few years.)

Abby Eisenberg

Abby Eisenberg

Abby Eisenberg is working at the Jewish Theological Seminary as Admissions Director of the Graduate School and the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education.

Joel Hoffman

Joel HoffmanJoel Hoffman continues to write, to teach, and to consult to Hebrew Schools. His latest book, And God Said: How Translations Conceal the Bible’s Original Meaning, comes out in a few months from St. Martin’s Press, and his lecture circuit will bring him across the country again this year. He’s also started two blogs: a general blog and a blog on Bible translation.

Mel Briger-Bray

Mel Birger-BrayMel Birger-Bray is still working at the American Technion Society and has remained deeply involved with Jewish education. She continues to teach at Congregation Or Ami and serves on the board of Congregation Beth Ahavah.

Mary Lou Allen

Mary Lou AllenMary Lou Allen has put her expertise to work as a consultant, working on various high-level Federation projects, as well as with the State of New Jersey.

Jeff Lasday

Jeff LasdayJeff Lasday is working as Director of Education at PELIE (“Partnership for Effective Learning and Innovative Education”), one of JESNA‘s parner organizations.

Yoram Schwell

Yoram SchwellYoram Schwell has moved to Israel, where he is working as an independent consultant.

Where Are You?

The CAJE community wants to know what you’re up to. Post an update on CAJEnet!

One Year Out

We can hardly believe that it’s been a whole year since we gathered together in Vermont: Storahtelling‘s brilliant opening, the keynotes, Rabbis Larry Hoffman and Ed Feinstein, the Roundtable Fishbowl, Doug Cotler‘s amazing finale… and so much more. It was a thrill and an honor for us to be involved with such an event.

Nor can we believe that we’re not in Texas now. Who would have thought the year would play out this way?

Still, we are thrilled to see that CAJE 33 – like the 32 conferences before it – had such a widespread impact. And we are heartened to see that groups like MANAJE are continuing to bring enrichment to Jewish educators. CAJEnet and other on-line locations have taken on new roles as e-meeting places for new and old CAJE members. (And the CAJE 33 website has photos from CAJE 33, and even some videos, courtesy of Yair Gil.)

There’s a lot happening around the country, both formally and informally. So we’re convinced that the future holds great things for Jewish education.

JMH and MBB

Posted in CAJE 33 followup, Chair, Co-Chair, Joel M. Hoffman, Mel Birger-Bray | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Some Results from the Roundtable Fishbowl

Posted by Joel H. on August 18, 2008

The Roundtable Fishbowl at CAJE 33

The Roundtable Fishbowl at CAJE 33

The Roundtable Fishbowl at CAJE 33

In its first ever Roundtable Fishbowl, CAJE 33 convened seven scholars, practitioners, and consultants to discuss the future of Jewish supplemental education in North America.

The two-day free-ranging discussion covered synagogue life, the question of “Why be Jewish?”, integration of schools into synagogues, community, bar/bat mitzvah, authenticity, spirituality, expectations, and much more.

Below are e-mail addresses for the fishbowl participants (who have generously agreed to continue the CAJE 33 discussion on-line), and some brief highlights:



Integration

One direct and concrete result was the consensus on the need for better integration of religious schools into the synagogue. The participants all agreed that schools suffer when they are disconnected from synagogue life. Rather that being their own units run by a principal, principals should work with other synagogue leaders to create a center for Jewish life that welcomes children.

Equally, it became clear that any solution to the Religious School crisis will have to involve the entire community. (Some suggestions for the community are summarized below.)

Bar/Bat Mitzvah

In response to a question from the audience (questions were submitted via real-time e-mail), Rabbi Larry Hoffman claimed that we don’t do enough to validate people who just senn their children to Religious School to become bar/bat mitzvah.

He pointed out that these parents invest considerable time, money, and energy to make sure that their children become bar/bat mitzvah, and we do a disservice to them and to our communities when we don’t recognize the value in that. Rather than affirm these parents’ commitment to giving Judaism to their children, leaders chastise them for not doing enough.

Expectations

One point of disagreement was the role of expectations. While some people advocated raising the proverbial bar, and, like a good piano teacher, only teaching to students who were willing to learn, others thought that each community should come to its own consensus on what quality looks like.

Formal/Informal Education

According to the panal, both formal and informal education formats have imporant roles, and both have to be expanded.

Hebrew is probably best taught in a formal setting. Identity may demand something else.

Dr. Steven Cohen raised the interesting possibility of investing in non-scholastic contexts for Jewish children to come together. His example was a Jewish soccer league, though he was clear that other similar programs could be equally valuable.

Another suggestion was based on the observation that classes for children up to about 10 years of age tend to function better than 6th/7th-grade classes. Perhaps those older children shouldn’t be in classes as all. Perhaps formal classroom education should run through 5th grade, to be replaced by something else before bar/bat mitzvah.

Spirituality

If we take the religious school seriously, we have to offer children more than just information and data. Children no less than adults require some sense of spirituality. If religious school doesn’t offer it, or at least the promise of it, the students will search elsewhere. Some will try meditation, yoga, etc., and others will leave Judaism altogether.

Continuity

There’s little point is creating a good religious school model if there won’t be any Jewish children to attend, so we have to balance long-term and short-term goals.

Authenticity

The word “authenticity” came up several times, but time constraints prevented the participants from exploring what they meant by it or why it’s so important.

Identity Formation

There was general agreement that a successful religious schools must not only convey information but also help in identify formation, and that this topic demands much more attention. While we have found people who know a lot about how children learn Hebrew, do have yet to identify experts in identify formation.

The People

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Closing Night Poem: This Curious Quinquidial Fray

Posted by Joel H. on August 15, 2008

In response to everyone who asked, I’ve put my poem from Wednesday night on-line.

NEW! Watch the video:

Enjoy!

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Details on the Roundtable Fishbowl on the Future of Jewish Education

Posted by Joel H. on July 21, 2008

By Joel M. Hoffman

(See the full-size graphic.)

(Also take a look at some results from the Roundtable Fishbowl.)

“What does success look like?”

“How do we get there?”

These two huge questions will occupy seven leading Jewish thinkers and practitioners over the course of two days at our Roundtable Fishbowl. And in preparation, we want to hear from you! If you have questions you’d like addressed, or ideas you’d like to contribute, e-mail them to Fishbowl@Caje33.Org — then come to the fishbowl to see if we’ve included your suggestion in the discussion.

When

The Roundtable Fishbowl sessions will take place on Monday and Tuesday, August 11-12, from 2:15 to 5:00 in the Royall Tyler Theater.

What

The topic of the first day is “what does success look like?” Each synagogue has a certain number of children aged 5-17. What should we do them? Why? Is “seating the children behind desks for 2-5 hours a week” a good answer? What are our goals? How do we balance formal and information information? What is the role of curriculm? What about teachers?

The second day is devoted to “how do we get from here to there?” What should we keep of our current programs? What can we modify? What must we abandon? How will we staff our new programs? How will we fund it?

Our seven participants will dicuss their views on these all important topics, and you will even be able to join the conversation electronically via SMS and e-mail. (We’ll have wifi for your laptop, or you can use one of several computers we’ll have set up.) You can even get a head-start by sending e-mail now.

Who

Participating will be:

Dr. Joel M. Hoffman will moderate the event.

How

Get involved now! Send your comments, ideas, and questions to Fishbowl@Caje33.Org. You can also contribute during the fishbowl itself by sending e-mail to that same address. Use your own cell phone, Blackberry, PDA, or laptop computer; or use one of the stations we’ll have set up.

Don’t miss out

This is only going to happen once, and only at CAJE 33.

Posted in CAJE 33 Information, Chair, Joel M. Hoffman, Roundtable Fishbowl | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Count the Omer with CAJE

Posted by Joel H. on April 28, 2008

By Joel M. Hoffman

The seven-week period from the second day of Passover to Shavuot is known as the Omer, and it represents our broad journey from slavery to Torah. It’s a time of personal growth, and renewed attention to vision: Where do you want to be? What do you want to do? How will you get there?

At CAJE 33, we’ll be using this time to craft the final program for Vermont. As we put pieces in place, we’ll post frequent updates here. So stay tuned – or even chime in with a comment – and join us on our Omer journey. (We already have information on the Roundtable Fishbowl and the “Who We Are” track.)

As a thought for these 50 days, I quote Ralph Waldo Emerson: “[Education] is to be created not by compulsion, but by awakening a pure interest in knowledge.” Many supplementary schools feel too much like the slavery of Egypt and not enough like the joy of receiving Torah. CAJE 33 is working to fix that.

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The Roundtable Fishbowl

Posted by Joel H. on April 1, 2008

By Joel M. Hoffman

(Also take a look at details on the Roundtable Fishbowl and results from the Roundtable Fishbowl.)

The Roundtable Fishbowl

(See the full-size graphic.)

Hi Everyone,

I have lots of news about CAJE 33. Even at this early date, we already have over 400 people 1,400 people signed up! And with tracks on the environment, the future of Jewish education, teacher training, and much more, it’s shaping up to be a very exciting 5-days. No wonder there’s such a buzz in the air about CAJE 33.

The Roundtable Fishbowl

I’m particularly excited about the roundtable fishbowl, which brings together seven people who collectively represent over 100 years of formal education and nearly 300 years of experience. They’ll engage in a directed conversation about the future of Jewish education, with Monday and Tuesday afternoons devoted to every aspect of what our schools should like like, and how to get there.

The audience will listen to the conversation, and even have the opportunity to contribute by sending text-messages or e-mail to a moderator. (Computers will be set up around the room to help make this possible.)

The People

The seven participants – three rabbis, two PhD’s, one principal, one lawyer, a change-management expert, and 4 graduate-school faculty members (these people all do more than one thing!) – represent every aspect of congregational education and come from a wide variety of religious and institutional backgrounds.

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity puts David Behrman, Mara Braunfeld, Dr. Steven Cohen, Rabbi Ed Feinstein, Rabbi Larry Hoffman, Linda Klonsky, and Rabbi Danny Zemel all at one table. And thanks to CAJE, you get to be there, too.

Register Now!

Read the rest of this entry »

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