UJA-Federation of New York Awards $1.05 Million to the Experiment in Congregational
Grant for The RE-IMAGINE Project Will Improve Quality and Impact of Religious
Schools in Greater New York Area
February 3, 2004 (New York, NY) - In an effort to improve Jewish education
in the approximately 300 Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, and unaffiliated
congregational schools throughout the New York area, UJA-Federation of New York's
Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal (CoJIR) has awarded the Experiment
in Congregational Education (ECE) a grant of $1.05 million to bring The RE-IMAGINE
Project initiative to 20 synagogues in the area. The project, which has the
potential to directly affect the lives of thousands of Jewish children, family
members, congregants, and teachers and to transform the landscape of congregational
education in New York, reflects UJA-Federation's commitment to renewing and
strengthening the Jewish people.
"We fully expect that through the efforts of RE-IMAGINE a larger percentage
of Jewish children in New York will be engaged as Jews, will care about their
Judaism, and will have strong Jewish identities," said Scott Shay, CoJIR's
chair. "Promoting excellence in Jewish education advances UJA-Federation's
mission of strengthening Jewish identity from generation to generation. CoJIR
is looking forward to partnering with congregations from the entire New York
area and from across all the Jewish movements to pursue this endeavor."
RE-IMAGINE was pioneered last year in five New York area synagogues. The $1.05
million commitment from CoJIR will challenge 20 local congregational schools
to create new models of supplementary Jewish education. It will also allow ECE
to prepare to work with additional congregations in the future. Through the
RE-IMAGINE process congregations learn to:
- Reshape religious school to speak to today's children and their families.
- Foster partnerships between professionals and congregants.
- Change the basis of discussion from complaint to constructive thinking.
- Explore alternative models of religious school and adapt them to their congregants'
- Build the capacity to make institutional change.
The ECE, a project of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education of Hebrew Union College-Jewish
Institute of Religion/Los Angeles, is working closely with lead staff people
from New York area agencies of Jewish education and the major denominational
movements to coordinate support for congregations before, during, and after
their involvement in RE-IMAGINE.
Rob Weinberg, director of the ECE and leader of The RE-IMAGINE Project, said,
"By expanding The RE-IMAGINE Project in New York, UJA-Federation is making
a meaningful impact on Jewish education in New York. With their support, we
will have the opportunity to further develop tools and techniques to reach congregations
we otherwise couldn't and to help them articulate their own visions for education.
Perhaps most importantly, the ECE team has been able to create a model for engaging
more congregations more effectively at lower marginal costs."
Cyd Weissman, The RE-IMAGINE Project's New York coordinator, has worked closely
with the five pilot congregations and notes that this project "has energized
lay and professional teams to work together with a wonderful sense of hope for
Jewish education in their congregations. We look forward to helping 20 more
congregations move from strength to strength."
ECE and UJA-Federation have recently invited applications from more than 60
congregations of all sizes and across all denominations. Congregations participating
in the project will pay a fee to help cover project costs.
For more information about The RE-IMAGINE Project, visit www.eceonline.org,
or contact Cyd Weissman by phone at 1-347-200-1515 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.