Five New York Area Synagogues Selected to
Experiment in Congregational Education Selects Five New York Area Synagogues
To Redesign Their Religious Schools
With a goal of redesigning synagogue-based religious schools in the Greater
New York Area, and ultimately throughout North America, the Experiment in Congregational
Education (ECE) has selected a multi-denominational group of five synagogues
to rethink their approaches to religious school education.
Throughout the 18-month "RE-IMAGINE Project" an ECE Consultant will
guide teams of leaders from each synagogue through a process to examine their
community's interests, goals and needs. After experiencing unique Internet-based
"virtual" visits to innovative educational programs across the country,
synagogue teams will adapt aspects of those programs to fit their own communities.
The five synagogues, selected because they exhibited a strong readiness for
· Forest Hills Jewish Center, Forest Hills (Conservative)
· Oceanside Jewish Center, Oceanside (Conservative)
· Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore, Plandome (Reconstructionist)
· Temple Beth David, Commack (Reform)
· Temple Israel of New Rochelle, New Rochelle (Reform)
The RE-IMAGINE Project is sponsored and made possible by a generous grant from
UJA-Federation of New York's Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal (CoJIR).
CoJIR's Chair, Scott Shay, said, "We at UJA-Federation of New York aim
to significantly enhance the quality and content of congregational education
in the New York area. Through CoJIR, we have identified the ECE as a partner
in the development of new tools and approaches which can be fine tuned and made
available to a much larger group of synagogues in the future."
Additional support for the project is coming from The Covenant Foundation,
a supporter of the ECE from its beginning in 1992.
Dr. Rob Weinberg, national Director of ECE said, "We are thrilled to have
a dynamic and diverse group of synagogues to participate in this ambitious pilot
project. We look forward to seeing exciting new Jewish educational models implemented,
but that's just the beginning. We hope this project will increase these congregations'
capacities to keep re-imagining their educational programs long after the project
formally ends. And we hope to expand the project to include many more New York
area congregations with a Phase II in the future. "
For the day-to-day direction of the project, Weinberg has appointed Cyd Weissman
as the Community Coordinator and Consultant. Cyd's extensive background in Jewish
education includes teaching at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and
lecturing at Gratz College and the Whizin Institute. Having led a school innovation
process resulting in a nationally recognized model of congregational education,
Cyd is uniquely qualified to guide the five synagogues in their work with ECE's
online interactive learning module on Alternative Models of the Religious School
and a step-by-step guidebook, including reflection through the study of sacred
Jewish texts. "This project is an outstanding opportunity to help already
strong congregations build on their strengths by focusing on a comprehensive
transformation of their religious schools rather than merely programmatic change,"
As a leader of one of the five congregations selected, Rabbi Gerry Skolnik
of the Forest Hills Jewish Center, a Conservative synagogue with 850 household
members, is very excited about participating. "While we will no doubt benefit
in many ways, more than anything, the opportunity to take part in this process
will change the way that the congregation views change itself. We are an institution
with a capital 'I' and very much need to learn how to look forward while retaining
our valued past."
For more information about The RE-IMAGINE Project, visit www.eceonline.org,
or contact Cyd Weissman by phone at 347-200-1515 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
The Experiment in Congregational Education (ECE), a project of the Rhea Hirsch
School of Education of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los
Angeles, is the nation's first synagogue transformation project. The ECE seeks
to strengthen the synagogue's place as a critical center of Jewish life in North
America by helping congregations to become Congregations of Learners and Self-Renewing
The world's largest local philanthropy, UJA-Federation of New York strengthens
community and helps 4.5 million persons in New York City, Westchester County,
and Long Island, as well as 3 million in Israel and 60 other countries. Funds
raised by UJA-Federation sustain the activities of more than 100 health, social-service,
educational, and community agencies. Every day, these community-based organizations
provide a multitude of services that improve and enhance people's lives.
The Covenant Foundation was established in 1990 by the Crown Family Foundation
in partnership with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA). The
purpose of the Foundation is to build on existing strengths within the field
of Jewish education in North America across all denominations and in all educational
settings. By honoring outstanding Jewish educators and supporting creative approaches
to programming, the Covenant Foundation hopes to strengthen endeavors in education,
which perpetuate the identity and heritage of the Jewish people.