Jo Kay Appointed Director of New York School of Education - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Jo Kay Appointed Director of New York School of Education

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Friday, October 1, 1999

New Vision for School of Jewish Education 
provides new learning opportunities on the East Coast

Jo Kay has been appointed Director of the New York School of Education of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) by Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman, President. Currently serving in a supervisory capacity as a consultant for the new initiatives being undertaken at HUC-JIR's New York School of Education, Kay will to begin her tenure as full-time Director of the School on July 1, 2000. HUC-JIR has convened an advisory committee which, under her leadership, will work to redesign the New York School of Education. "Training Jewish educators is a priority in ensuring the Jewish future. With Jo Kay's expertise and guidance, HUC-JIR's New York School of Education will provide a new vision of education for interested students in the Eastern part of the United States, complementing the excellence of the HUC-JIR Rhea Hirsch School of Education in Los Angeles," noted HUC-JIR President, Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman.

The strengthening of HUC-JIR's New York School of Education will include a significant enhancement of the educational program, the recruitment of an enlarged student body to better meet the needs of the Reform Movement and the entire Jewish community, and the development of a vision for training educational professionals for the future. The excitement for these new developments is shared by Rabbi Aaron Panken, Dean of HUC-JIR/NY: "Jo Kay is an incredible mentor, with an exceptional ability to create a rapport with students and help them to grow. Her appointment, and the establishment of the New York School of Education Advisory Committee, gathers the greatest experts in Jewish education from around the country. This marks a watershed in the development of a cutting-edge center for Jewish Education in New York."

"It is an exciting new challenge to have the opportunity to have an impact on the future of Jewish education by working with the rabbis, cantors, and educators that will serve their own communities," Kay says. "I hope to bring my connections throughout the greater Jewish world to HUC-JIR, sharing educational experiences that cross movement lines with the future leadership of Reform Judaism. I am thrilled to join HUC-JIR at the helm of the transformation of the New York School of Education."

A consummate educator, Jo Kay comes to HUC-JIR with years of experience as a Jewish educator and educational consultant. Kay received her BA in Education from Brooklyn College, and her MA in Hebrew Culture from the School of Education at New York University. In 1987, she was chosen as a Melton Fellow, studying in the Senior Educators Program for Jewish Education in the Diaspora at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In 1996, she completed her Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies from the Fingerhut School of Education at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, after which she participated in the Teacher Educator Institute of the Council for Initiatives in Jewish Education (CIJE).

After years of experience as a teacher in public and religious schools and summer camps, Kay created the award-winning PACE (Parents and Children for Education) Family Education Program. A past Director of Judaic Studies of the Rodeph Sholom Day School of Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City, she has served as the Education Director of the Rodeph Sholom Religious School since 1990. During her tenure at Rodeph Sholom, she also served as a consultant and faculty member in Jewish Family Education at the Whizin Institute for Jewish Family Life at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, as a consultant for the American Friends of Rechov Sumsum (Israeli Hebrew Language Sesame Street of Children's Television Workshop), and as a consultant for the Shalom Sesame Video Series and Family Materials. A practiced presenter at Jewish education conferences worldwide, Kay serves as the Chairperson of the Editorial Board of the CAJE magazine Jewish Education News. Her most recent publications include Israel in Jewish Family Education, co-authored with Etti Serok (Israel Education Project of the Charles M. Bronfman Foundation, Jewish Agency, JESNA, 1999), and three articles in First Fruit: A Whizin Anthology of Jewish Family Education, Andianne Bank and Ron Wolfson, eds. (The Whizin Institute for Jewish Family Life, 1999).

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.