The ECE was founded in 1992 by Dr. Isa Aron and Professor Sara Lee and is based at the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. Initially supported by grants from The Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Mandel Associated Foundations, The Gimprich Family Foundation, and The Covenant Foundation, the ECE began with an invitational conference of academicians, rabbis, educators, and lay leaders to deliberate on the means by which learning could become a vehicle for congregation-wide change.
The initial ECE process was designed by a team of more than 20 experts representing a wide range of disciplines and experience. In designing this process, we borrowed from work done in corporations and public schools, bearing in mind the many differences between congregations and these other organizations. Since that time, ECE has developed a variety of processes and approaches based on alternative theories of change, which vary in assumptions, duration, and methods. These approaches were tested and refined in conjunction with our community partners.
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Dr. Rob Weinberg led the project as National Director of the Experiment in Congregational Education (ECE) from 2001-2016. Rob directed the ECE in working with congregations and local agencies to re-imagine and transform congregational education and to strengthen synagogues as critical centers of Jewish life in North America. The ECE has partnered with agencies and engaged congregations in New York, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Kansas City.
A leader in the field of synagogue transformation and innovation in congregational education, Rob holds a PhD in Organization Behavior from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Before joining HUC-JIR in 2001, Rob was a partner in the Organization Effectiveness practice at Hewitt Associates, a global human resources management consulting firm (now AonHewitt). In addition to his work with the ECE, Rob serves as Project Manager of HUC-JIR’s Jim Joseph Foundation Education Initiative, and has served as a consultant to HUC-JIR, the URJ, the CCAR, the Reform Pension Board, the Rabbinic Vision Initiative, the World Union for Progressive Judaism, NATE, NATA, PaRDeS, as well as individual congregations. Rob has taught at Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy and its Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Having grown up in NFTY and on staff of OSRUI, Rob lives in Evanston, IL and belongs to Temple Beth Israel. In his “spare time” Rob builds furniture and performs as part of the musical group “Kol Sasson.”