Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's (HUC-JIR) New York School of Education received a 2001 Covenant Foundation Grant for its innovative program, "Gateways for Learning: Professional Advancement in Jewish Education," and a UJA-Federation Grant to begin its Educators Outreach Initiative. Jo Kay, the Director of the New York School of Education and a 2001 individual Covenant Award winner for outstanding Jewish educators, will lead the new educational program and recruiting initiatives. Both are designed to help ease the acute shortage of qualified educators throughout the Jewish community.
Through the "Gateways for Learning" program, the New York School of Education will offer structured professional development opportunities leading participants into continuing education and certificate programs in Family, Adult, Informal, and Day School Education (which may later be applied to the Master of Arts in Religious Education program). The "Educators Outreach Initiative" will coordinate a variety of broad-based strategies to recruit students for the "Gateways for Learning" programs as well as for a redesigned Master of Arts in Religious Education that starts in September 2002 with both full- and part-time enrollment options.
Both efforts feature partnerships with an array of Jewish organizations and agencies such as the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York, Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and Women's American ORT.
The Covenant Foundation's three-year $180,000 grant for Gateways will enable students of all ages and backgrounds to begin careers in Jewish education and those already teaching in the field to improve their credentials. Continuing education opportunities will include evening courses in educational theory and practice, and courses in Judaica, including Modern Hebrew, Bible, History, and Rabbinics, offered in conjunction with HUC-JIR's New York Kollel. An intensive Summer Institute will begin in 2003.
The Covenant Foundation, established in 1990 by the Crown Family Foundation in partnership with the Jewish Education Service of North America, seeks to strengthen endeavors in education that perpetuate the identity and heritage of the Jewish people. The Foundation annually makes grants for innovative programs in Jewish education and awards to outstanding Jewish educators.
The Educators Outreach Initiative is funded by a four-year $168,000 grant from UJA-Federation of New York's Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal. Jo Kay noted the positive response across movement lines in assisting with recruitment: "Everyone is very excited about taking on these projects, and helping teach and recruit to develop educators." Recruitment activities - including a media and public information campaign, targeted professional development, career and staff development sessions that highlight the School's new programs and faculty, and an Outreach Task Force with a special focus on recruiting emigres from the Former Soviet Union - already are underway.
UJA-Federation of New York was founded in the early 20th century by a group of local Jews "to care for those in need, strengthen Jewish peoplehood, and foster Jewish renaissance in New York, in Israel, and throughout the world." Among the strategic objectives of its new Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal is helping organizations recruit, retain, and train the most talented and skilled professionals for Jewish educational settings.
HUC-JIR's New York School of Education is already interviewing students for the new, more intensive, yet flexible master's program starting in September. After opting to spend either a year in Israel or to participate in an eight-week summer study program there, students return to New York where they study Jewish studies, Hebrew, and Jewish education for formal and informal settings (in classrooms, as well as in clinically supervised internships in the field). They may choose to specialize in Family and Adult Education (to become Directors of Family Education, Program Directors for Family and Parent Study in synagogues, schools or communal agencies, or Directors of Adult Learning) or Informal Education (to work in youth programming, camping, Israel trips, JCCs, museum education, or any other educational setting outside the classroom). A specialization in Day School Education is also planned.
Dr. Jonathan Woocher, President of Jewish Education Service of North America, praised the new program: "HUC-JIR's newly redesigned and expanded M.A. program in Jewish Education could not be more timely or more welcome. Offering the option of full- or part-time study, for those already in the field or embarking on a 'second career,' the program will help address the acute shortage of quality teachers and educational administrators, as well as the rapidly expanding need for family, adult, and informal educators. The positive impact of this program will be felt throughout North America."