Rhea Hirsch School of Education Launches New Concentration in Day School Education in Partnership with Avi Chai Foundation

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), and Dr. Michael Zeldin, Director of Day School Projects and Programs at HUC-JIR, announced today that in partnership with The Avi Chai Foundation the HUC-JIR Rhea Hirsch School of Education (RHSOE) in Los Angeles will launch a new Concentration in Day School Education, in conjunction with the Master of Arts in Jewish Education degree, in the fall of 2006. 

"We are at a pivotal moment in the life of liberal and pluralistic day school education in America," stated Rabbi Ellenson. "Jewish parents from liberal backgrounds are seeking to deepen their children's formative Jewish experiences by embracing day school education in unprecedented numbers. They seek to give their children the values and teachings to anchor and explore their personal and communal identity as Jews in a meaningful way and to prepare them to contribute powerfully to the American public square, and as citizens of the world, in an authentic Jewish voice. We are grateful to The Avi Chai Foundation for their partnership in this program, which will strengthen Jewish day schools. 

A network of nearly 20 Reform day schools serves approximately 5,000 children and over 100 community day schools across North America currently serve many additional children from across the spectrum of Jewish life. Jewish parents who may have previously doubted the importance of day school education are looking to Reform and pluralistic schools. Studies indicate that day schools are catalysts for deeper Jewish engagement later in life, producing the future leaders of every sector of our community -- Hillels, synagogues, Israel advocacy groups and federations and Jewish education. 

"The continued growth and success of Reform and pluralistic day schools in North America depends, in part, on the recruitment and retention of Jewish educators who are highly literate Jewishly and can help students from liberal Jewish backgrounds create meaningful connections with tradition in ways that are both authentic and relevant to their lives," explained Dr. Zeldin. "This intensive Concentration in Day School Education will provide our graduates with the Jewish knowledge, leadership, and pedagogical skills to enhance the quality of Jewish learning and Jewish life for children and their families in the growing number of Reform and pluralistic day schools in North America." 

Designed to advance the cause of Reform and pluralistic day school education while positively influencing the culture of professional development in these day schools, the new Concentration in Day School Education promises to make a significant new contribution to the field of Jewish education. Professor Sara S. Lee, Director of the Rhea Hirsch School who was recently awarded the prestigious Israel Prize in Jewish Education, noted, "The RHSOE is well-known for its Master of Arts in Jewish Education (MAJE), a three-year course of study in Judaica, Hebrew language and educational theory complemented by supervised clinical education. With a sophisticated command of Jewish texts and self-awareness as a liberal Jew, a graduate of the RHSOE with a Concentration in Day School Education will be equipped to contribute to the Jewish life of the Jewish day school on multiple levels: as a knowledgeable and effective classroom Judaic Studies teacher; as a partner in curriculum development; as a role model to other teachers in deepening their personal commitment to Jewish learning and Jewish life; and as a creative leader of Jewish co-curricular programming." 

Master of Arts in Jewish Education (MAJE) students at the RHSOE will be invited to apply for the Concentration in Day School Education program during the winter semester of the second year of their studies, after having completed a first year of intensive Hebrew language and Jewish text study in Israel at HUC-JIR's Jerusalem campus, two years of Judaica and Education coursework at the RHSOE in Los Angeles, and supervised fieldwork, guided by leading practitioners in the field. 

The Concentration in Day School Education program includes:

  • a one-month externship in a Jewish day school at the end of the second year of study for the MAJE, structured to enable students to learn about day schools through classroom observation, interaction with experienced teachers and administrators, and involvement in Jewish co-curricular activities, with the support and guidance of RHSOE faculty;
  • completion of planning and design of an in-depth Masters Curriculum Project designed for a day school in year three;
  • upon completion of the MAJE at the end of year three, a two-year mentored Jewish studies teaching and leadership residency in a participating day school in a Jewish community in North America that supports new teacher learning and Jewish growth, with guidance and support from the day school's Jewish studies coordinator(s), as well as an assigned mentor teacher nominated by the day school and supported by the RHSOE; and
  • enrollment in one Judaica course each semester, for both years of the Residency, at an approved institution of higher learning, as part of their continuing education.

As an incentive to pursue day school careers, the RHSOE will provide MAJE Concentration in Day School Education students with a full tuition stipend for year three of the MAJE, a transition stipend for the summer after MAJE graduation to cover relocation expenses and preparation for the Residency, a salary enhancement stipend, and tuition stipend for the required Judaica courses taken during the two years of the Concentration Residency. 

Interested candidates for this new program are encouraged to contact Professor Lee at the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles at (213) 749-3424, for a career consultation and more information. 


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