The DeLeT Alumni Network (DAN) of over 100 graduates from HUC-JIR and Brandeis University held its second conference for DeLeT alumni from October 28-31 in Reisterstown, MD. For the first time ever, the conference was held in conjunction with alumni of the Pardes Educators Program (PEP) in Jerusalem. Both DeLeT and PEP prepare teachers for the growing number of Jewish day schools in North America.
The conference was made possible due to the generous support of Gary and Laura Lauder. Ms. Lauder is the founding funder and visionary creator of DeLeT – Day School Leadership through Teaching. “We are grateful to the Lauder’s for their continued leadership in making it possible for us to recruit, prepare, and induct the next generation of teacher-leaders for Jewish day schools,” said Dr. Michael Zeldin, Professor of Jewish Education and Director of HUC-JIR’s DeLeT program.
Bob Tornberg, the new Education Director of DeLeT at HUC-JIR summarized the program: “Our four days together could be characterized as a celebration of Jewish education at its best. We learned from and with each other as we studied and shared Jewish and educational texts, pedagogic and religious ideas, classroom experiences, and personal journeys. Workshops and sessions were conducted by faculty and their former students alike as we took down some of the traditional barriers of student and teacher.”
Tornberg explained that it was especially gratifying to see members of different DeLeT cohorts getting to know each other as professionals and finding so much in common. Graduates of the Brandeis and HUC-JIR DeLeT programs talked about their similar and not-so-similar experiences, and realized that what they share in common is a dedication to powerful modes of teaching and learning that bring young Jews greater knowledge of the tradition and stronger commitment to their Jewish identities.
In short, when Sunday morning arrived, participants agreed that they had grown as teachers, as Jewish professionals and as Jews. Each one had met new colleagues and, it is hoped, had begun to create a network of like-minded individuals who will journey together toward improving Jewish educations for students wherever they work.