Jewish Education Students Present Capstone Curriculum Guides

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Students receiving Master of Arts in Jewish Education degrees, upon completion of the course of study of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, are required to complete a capstone project in their final year.  The project is a year-long curriculum guide on a topic in Judaism and Jewish life which is significant to them.  Such projects then become valuable educational resources for congregations, summer camps, adult education programs, family education programs and day schools, and they are available through the Tartak Resource Center on the Los Angeles campus.  Last year more than 100 curriculum guides from past years were requested by institutions throughout North America.

Each spring, as graduation approaches, the RHSOE sponsors a showcase of these curriculum guides, where each student shares some element of the curriculum guide he or she has produced.  At this event, students of the Los Angeles campus from all programs, faculty and clinical faculty of the RHSOE, alumni and lay leaders of HUC-JIR have an opportunity to hear about these important projects.  The graduating students can share their passions for topics and issues in Jewish life, and those attending can gain insight into the kind of academic work that infuses the RHSOE course of study and the issues that animate these students about to conclude their studies at HUC-JIR.  The range of topics this year included, among others, the Holocaust, Tzedakah, programs for counselors to learn about creating inclusive environments for special needs learners in summer camps, prayer, and American Jewish history. 

“This capstone project of the curriculum guide, completed over the course of an academic year, not only provides an opportunity for students to synthesize their Judaica and educational learning, but to create important resources for Jewish education in a variety of settings” said Sara S. Lee, MAJE, MSEd, and former Director of the RHSOE.

This year’s graduating students and their Curriculm Guide Titles/Topics include:

  •     Rachel Ackerman - “Do Not Place Stumbling Blocks:  Making Your Camp More Accessible”
  •     Missy Bell - “Tzedakah Tzedakah Tirdof:  A Curriculum Guide on Making Jewish Philanthropic Decisions”
  •     Matt Kahn - “Heroism and Resistance in the Holocaust”
  •     Jordi Schuster - “For You Were Strangers:  An Introduction to Jewish Text Study”
  •     Luisa Moss -     “Adventure, Opportunity, and Discovery:  Finding Oneself in the Los Angeles Jewish Experience”
  •     Laura Siegel -     “Tizkoret Tzedekah:  A 5th Grade Curriculum Exploring the Difficult Questions of Modern Tzedekah”
  •     Jake Singer-Beilin - “Adonai S’fatai Tiftach:  Prayer and Spirituality at Camp and Beyond”
  •     Rebekah Stern - “Hearing Our Voices:  Mothers and Daughters Exploring Jewish Womanhood”
  •     Emily Walsh - “And Justice for All:  Jewish Involvement  in the American Public Sphere”
  •     Julia Atlas Weisz - “Celebrating with Those We Love:  Jewish Holidays and Healing for Families with Members who Struggle with Addiction”

For further information or to borrow a copy of one of the above-mentioned guides, please contact Lynn Flanzbaum, Director, Tartak Learning Center, at HUC-JIR, at 213.765.2192, or at

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The Rhea Hirsch School of Education, located on the Los Angeles campus of HUC-JIR, was founded in 1969 in response to a growing demand for the development of a cadre of Jewish educational leaders. In addition to its outstanding academic courses, the Rhea Hirsch School was a pioneer in the field of clinical education and mentoring. Supported by a grant from the Wexner Foundation, the academic faculty worked together with the clinical faculty to develop an exemplary protocol for similar institutions throughout North America.  The Rhea Hirsch School has graduated more than 275 Jewish educators who work in congregations, day schools, camps, Israel programs, central agencies, and academic institutions in the United States, Canada, England, Australia and Israel. Over the years, the school has become a center for research in the field of Jewish education and a means for outreach and service to Jewish educational institutions, primarily those of the Reform Movement.

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.