Synagogue Transformation Through Education - Now on the Web

Friday, February 1, 2002

Synagogue transformation work is no longer limited to the monthly committee meeting. For the first time congregations will be able to turn to the Web for round the clock information, resources, community, and support from the nation's first synagogue transformation project.

The Experiment in Congregational Education (ECE), a project of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles has partnered with Jewish Family & Life! (JFL), the trailblazing producers of online Jewish living and learning content, to launch an online home -ECEOnline.org - for its breakthrough process by which synagogues become Congregations of Learners and Self-Renewing Congregations.

The site features:

  • Customized interactive Team Workspaces, so that participating congregations may continue conversations outside of team meetings, share documents, calendars, links and resources.
  • Text studies both for the visitor and participating congregations.
  • Information on the ECE, an innovative project with 10 years of pioneering experience in synagogue transformation.
  • Inspiring stories depicting the journeys participating congregations have taken toward transformation.
  • Information on how to get involved in the ECE process.
  • An Interactive Showcase, currently featuring an interview with the Rabbi of one of ECE's pioneering congregations.
  • Learning Modules, the first of which will address Alternative Models for Religious Schools

"The ECE, through ECEOnline.org, is one of the first projects to open up synagogue transformation to the Internet and will use state-of-the-art interactive and distance learning tools to provide content knowledge and to facilitate the transformation process", stated Dr. Rob Weinberg, Director of the ECE. The site was designed in collaboration with HUC's Department of Distance Learning.

Synagogue transformation is the future of congregational life and now there is an online forum for the unlimited creative energy of synagogue leadership, stated Yosef I. Abramowitz, CEO of JFL. The ECE/JFL partnership demonstrates how multimedia and technology can assist in the advancement of congregational life.

The Experiment in Congregational Education (ECE) is the nation's first synagogue transformation project. It was founded on the belief that learning is the most effective pathway towards transforming congregations into "communities of meaning" in which members are involved and engaged with Jewish living and learning and with one another. The work of the ECE is made possible by gifts from the Nathan Cummings Foundation and The Koret Foundation.

Hebrew Union College's Rhea Hirsch School of Education is a premier training institution in Jewish education, preparing professional educational leadership for congregations, day schools and other educational settings. Recognizing that Jewish education succeeds where a community places Jewish learning at its center, the Rhea Hirsch School views the ECE as a significant complement to its preparation of education leadership.

Jewish Family & Life!/JFL Media's (JFL) mission is to spark and nurture Jewish identity and build interactive Jewish communities by providing access to multimedia resources and tools to the global Jewish community and to those interested in a Jewish way of life. The JFL media network includes titles such as JewishFamily.com, SocialAction.com, and Shema. JFL is partners with the Jewish Television Network on JewZ.com, the Nash Family Foundation and JESNA on JSkyway (providing online professional development for the Jewish community), The AVI CHAI Foundation on BabagaNewz and Hebrew College on MyJewishLearning (an adult educational learning portal scheduled for debut September 2002).


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 men and women for service to 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, 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. www.huc.edu