The Rhea Hirsch School of Education (RHSOE) of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles has selected four Jewish Day Schools to participate in Jewish Day Schools for the 21st Century (JDS21), a groundbreaking project designed to strengthen Reform and community day schools. JDS21 is a project of the RHSOE and is funded by the AVI CHAI Foundation, which encourages Jews to become more deeply involved with Jewish learning and observance.
HUC-JIR created JDS21 out of an interest in helping Jewish Day Schools across North America reaffirm their responsibility for building a vibrant future for the Jewish community while continuing to provide high quality general and Jewish education to their students.
Jewish Day Schools throughout North America applied to be part of an elite group of four Jewish Day Schools in the first cohort of schools to participate in JDS21. The schools selected are: Hebrew Day School of Central Florida in Orlando; San Diego Jewish Academy; N.E. Miles Jewish Day School in Birmingham, Alabama; and the Pardes School of Temple Solel in Phoenix, Arizona.
"Day Schools have a measurable impact on our children's Jewish future and JDS21 will help strengthen the Jewish educational environment in many Reform and Community schools. We applaud those schools, the parents, educators, administrators, and lay leadership, for realizing the need, taking the lead, and participating in this important program," said Henry Taub, AVI CHAI Foundation Trustee.
JDS21 is a collaborative partnership not only with the RHSOE, but with the other participating Jewish Day Schools, as well. Participants will be guided through a process of discerning their guiding Jewish values, developing community consensus around these values, and planning a series of programmatic initiatives to translate these values into programs for children and adults in the school community. The schools will also learn the skills that will enable them to become Jewish learning communities and Jewish learning organizations.
"We are thrilled that such fine schools will be joining JDS21. They are all excellent schools that are looking for ways to be even better," said Professor Sara S. Lee, Director, RHSOE.
JDS21 is directed by Dr. Michael Zeldin, Professor of Jewish Education, HUC-JIR. Dr. Zeldin is a national authority on Jewish day schools and has expertise in the process of institutional change and curriculum development for Jewish schools. He is joined by Professor Lee, who serves as Senior Advisor to the project. Professor Lee is a leading expert on organizational development and institutional transformation.
Robert E. Tornberg, principal of the Cohen Hillel Academy, a community day school in Marblehead, Massachusetts, said of his involvement in the pilot phase of JDS21: "One of the best results of the project was bringing together the various groups ranging from teachers and administrators to parents and board members which make up the school to focus on the Jewish soul of our school."
For more information on JDS21, please contact Dr. Michael Zeldin at 213/749-3424 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.