Professor Sara Lee Receives President's Award for Jewish Education in the Diaspora.
Jointly Presented by Israel's President, Moshe Katzav, and the Jewish Agency for Israel
Professor Sara Lee, Director of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, received The President's Award for Jewish Education in the Diaspora, presented jointly by the President of Israel, Moshe Katzav, and the Jewish Agency for Israel. The award ceremony took place at the President's residence in Jerusalem on February 21, 2005.
Professor Lee is recognized as one of the premier Jewish educators in North America. Her areas of specialty are curriculum, organizational and sociological phenomena, and educational leadership.
As Director of HUC-JIR's Rhea Hirsch School of Education for 25 years, Professor Lee has taught and mentored generations of education, rabbinical, and communal service students, and has advanced the field of Jewish education through ground-breaking research projects that have transformed congregational schools, strengthened day schools, and inspired Jewish learners of all ages (see description of programs and projects below).
At HUC-JIR, Professor Lee teaches courses in Curriculum, Organizational Development and Administration. She serves as consultant to schools and organizations, lectures extensively on topics in Jewish education, and has written articles for The Jewish Principal's Handbook, Religious Education, and Jewish Education. She serves as a member of the Wexner Foundation Graduate Fellowship Committee and a vice chair of the Union for Reform Judaism's Commission on Lifelong Jewish Learning.
Professor Lee has edited three books: A Congregation of Learners (with Isa Aron and Seymour Rossel), Touching the Future: Mentoring and the Jewish Professional (with Michael Zeldin), and Communities of Learning: A Vision for the Jewish Future. With Mary C. Boys, she edited a special issue of Religious Education, "Religious Traditions in Conversation" (Vol. 91, Number 4, Fall 1996).
She has chaired the InterSeminary Retreat of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and has served as chairperson of the Editorial Committee of the Religious Education Association. In 1992 the Lilly Endowment awarded Professor Lee and Dr. Mary C. Boys of Union Theological Seminary a grant to support a two-year colloquium for Catholic and Jewish educators. A second grant for the study of pluralism and particularism in religious education was made in 1996. Professor Lee is a past president of the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education (APRRE).
For her contributions to religious and Jewish education, Professor Lee has numerous awards and honors, including the Samuel Rothberg Prize in Jewish Education by Hebrew University in Jerusalem (1997) and the Doctor of Hebrew Letters, honoris causa, from The Jewish Theological Seminary (1999).
Professor Lee received her B.A. in Social Relations from Radcliffe College and holds a M.A. in Jewish Education from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and a M.S. in Education from the University of Southern California.
Professor Sara Lee and Rhea Hirsh School of Education Programs and Projects:
MAJE: Master of Arts in Jewish Education
The M.A. program in Jewish education aims to develop the concept of "educator" in its broadest sense. The goal is the training of a Jewish education generalist, prepared to serve in a variety of Jewish educational settings, through extensive clinical and classroom learning. This three-year course of study is the core program of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education (RHSOE). The first year, spent at HUC-JIR's Jerusalem School, is engaged in the intensive study of Hebrew language and texts, with the second and third years spent in residence in Los Angeles. Rabbinical students may take part in an accelerated one-year version of the program. The Director of the RHSOE is Professor Sara S. Lee.
MAJE/MAJCS (Joint Masters): MAJE plus Master of Arts in Jewish Communal Service (partnership with the School of Jewish Communal Service)
For students who wish to combine the study of Jewish education with an emphasis on Jewish communal service, the Joint Master's program allows students to earn two separate degrees. In addition to the three years of the MAJE program, Joint Master's students spend the summer after the Year-in-Israel program and the summer between the Los Angeles academic years studying at HUC-JIR's School of Jewish Communal Service. The clinical placement during the second year of study involves work in a communal agency, and during the third year involves work in an educational setting. The co-directors are Professor Sara S. Lee (MAJE) and Dr. Steven Windmueller (MAJCS).
Tartak Learning Center
The Tartak Learning Center is an educational resource center designed to provide Jewish education ideas and materials to Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion students and alumni, and to Jewish professionals. The Tartak Learning Center, located in the Mercaz of the Los Angeles campus, was established through a generous and on-going gift by the Tartak Family and is maintained by the Rhea Hirsch School of Education (RHSOE). First opened by the RHSOE in the mid-1970s, the Tartak Learning Center served as a resource center where HUC-JIR students compiled lesson plans and materials for religious schools and informal education settings (e.g. camps). Throughout its years the Tartak Learning Center has expanded into a resource center for all students at HUC-JIR, principals and teachers in religious schools and day schools, adult educators, camp directors and counselors, communal service professionals, rabbis, and cantors. Today the Tartak Learning Center houses a collection of nearly 5,000 items including books, curricula (published and student written), videos, music, and computer software. The center's director is Andrea Fleekop.
Creating Teaching Excellence in Congregational Education
This project trains and supports mentoring teams in congregational/supplementary schools. The goals of the project are to build more professional, capable, stable teaching staffs; set higher standards of achievement for supplementary school teachers; provide mentoring opportunities for teachers; train, retain and empower more teachers to become better teachers; and create a real support network providing strong pillars of collegiality, cooperation, collaboration, community and team spirit for teachers in congregational schools. Creating Teaching Excellence in Congregational Education is funded by a generous grant from Lloyd Cotsen and Murray Pepper. The Project Director is Prof. Sara S. Lee; the Project Coordinator is Nancy Levin.
DeLeT: Day school Leadership through Teaching
DeLeT, the Hebrew word for door, is designed to open a doorway onto a career in day school education via an innovative approach to attract new people into day school teaching and retain them in the field of day school education. DeLeT prepares its fellows to enhance the quality of day school education by helping them to develop a vision of good teaching and a strong beginning practice, to utilize the latest research and thinking about teaching, to acquire the tools to learn in and from teaching, to investigate the possibilities and challenges of bringing Jewish values and ideas into the general studies curriculum, to explore the potential of technology as a partner in the educational process, to contribute to the creation of a powerful Jewish learning community in the day school, and to become part of a community of learners and future leaders in day schools. DeLeT is funded by a consortium of donors, listed on the project's website, assembled by Laura Heller Lauder (the project's founder). The Academic Director is Dr. Michael Zeldin, Professor of Jewish Education; the Program Director is Luisa Latham.
ECE: The Experiment in Congregational Education
Created in 1992, the Experiment in Congregational Education (ECE) is the nation's first synagogue transformation project, and is among the most successful. It was founded on the belief that learning is the most effective pathway towards transforming congregations from membership service organizations into "communities of meaning," in which members are involved and engaged with Jewish living and learning and with one another. The ECE has worked directly with 14 congregations throughout the U.S., ranging in size from 300 to 3,000 member units. Through the ECE process, these congregations have worked to become Congregations of Learners, in which members of all ages are actively engaged in learning, and Self-Renewing Congregations that practice collaborative leadership among professional staff and volunteers, and have incorporated deliberation, reflection and ongoing experimentation and assessment into all of their activities. Over the life of the ECE, the project has been supported by a number of sources including private foundations and local Federations, a current list of which is included in the project's website. The Director is Dr. Robert Weinberg; the Senior Consultant is Dr. Isa Aron, Professor of Jewish Education.
JDS-21: Jewish Day Schools for the 21st Century (recently completed)
Jewish Day Schools for the 21st Century (JDS-21) helped Reform and community Jewish day schools develop visions for how they could inspire children and adults to pursue Jewish learning and build vigorous Jewish communities for the next century. The project then guided schools as they brought those visions to life. JDS-21 brought together a diverse group of Reform and community Jewish day schools to deepen their Jewish character; help them provide enriched Jewish experiences for their students and their families; help students and their families develop enduring ties to the Jewish community; and inspire parents, teachers and board members to pursue their own Jewish learning. Ultimately, JDS-21 guided schools toward becoming Jewish learning organizations and Jewish learning communities--visionary institutions that continue to provide profound and engaging Jewish experiences that touch the lives of children and adults. The project was funded by the AVI CHAI Foundation and was directed by Dr. Michael Zeldin, Professor of Jewish Education.