Deborah Fishman

Sep 162019

The school year is now in full swing! Here we present you an alphabetical list with a range of resources from AVI CHAI grantees that Jewish educators, leaders, and your day school as a whole could benefit from. We hope you find them useful and inspirational.

  • Check out educators’ videos from Ayeka, dedicated to helping educators provide Soulful Education and engage students with traditional Jewish wisdom in a way that also fosters a personal connection, meaning, and relevance.
  • BetterLesson offers “Four Tips for Making this School Year Your Best One Yet.” In partnership with AVI CHAI, BetterLesson supports Jewish day school teachers to personalize student learning in their classrooms. These tips will help you find and achieve your long-term purpose in the classroom.
  • Center for Israel Education has released a resource, “Forming a Nucleus for the Jewish State: 1882-1947,” demonstrating the Jews’ unbroken connection to Eretz Yisrael from biblical times
  • It’s a great time to catch up on ELI talks on Education.
  • Jerusalem U provides great video resources for educators in Israel education at Unpacked for Educators.
  • This school year, you can make tefilah more meaningful than ever before by using resources from the Pardes Tefilah Education Initiative. This includes an extensive and free online database of tefilah resources created and curated by tefilah educators. It is searchable by grade, prayer, type of resource, and disposition (a character trait, or tendency being evoked in students).
  • Pardes Institute also hosts an Elmad Portal for online learning. It contains a Teaching Resources & Education section with podcasts, videos and posts in topics such as Leadership, Day Schools and Torah Study.
  • Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools offers an array of programs for your school and community. You can also check out resources it offers in its Knowledge Center on topics including day school affordability, finance and budget, governance, recruitment and retention, and more.

Wishing you a wonderful and successful school year!

Learning Hebrew at Ivriyon

 Posted by on August 8, 2019 at 10:03 am  No Responses »  Tagged with:  Categories:
Aug 082019

The Ivriyon summer institute prepares day school educators to teach Judaic subjects in Hebrew engagingly and effectively. The four-week, full-time immersion program of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) was developed by the Department of Hebrew Language at JTS, and is supported by AVI CHAI.

The program has demonstrated success in improving teachers’ Hebrew language skills, with participants jumping on average 1.5 levels in oral proficiency according to the American Council of Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) rating system. We spoke with three participants in this summer’s program for their qualitative insights on what the program has to offer.

Elianna Mitnick, a teacher at SAR High School who teaches 11th and 12th grade Tanakh, said she appreciated the focus on conversational Hebrew. “The goal is to use it more in class, which you can’t do until you’re comfortable yourself.”

“The program has been fantastic,” she continued. “My favorite part is the morning. We begin with an hour of chimum, warmup, inspired by a question, like your favorite childhood memory or place you love to be. It gets us sharing with each other and asking questions. After that, there’s an hour of grammar, which is about creating a good sentence structure and why things work the way they work. When I leave the building, I find myself speaking in Hebrew. For the first time in my life, I have to turn off my Hebrew to turn on my English!”

Another component to the program which Mitnick enjoys is daily model lessons, which participants present to each other. “It’s the opportunity to sit and be a student again and hear people teach things. It’s been a very enjoyable experience thus far.”

Becky Katz, a teacher at Yeshivat Noam in New Jersey, appreciated the opportunity for sharing models of effective teaching. “It’s good practice for teaching Ivrit B’Ivrit [Jewish studies in Hebrew]. We’re learning skills from each other as we are observing how others are teaching. It’s not just about Hebrew, it’s about improving your teaching.”

Katz also valued the range of experiences offered by the program. “We’ll watch a movie, go on trips, or visit a restaurant and speak in Hebrew. The program had an art teacher speak on how to incorporate art into teaching. We’re doing everything in Hebrew, which is enriching beyond just ‘let’s talk in Hebrew.’ They’re finding ways to teach us – in Hebrew — a variety of things related to education.”

She added that the facilitators excel at making the language component exciting. “They are creative and make things fun. By making it cool to be speaking in Hebrew all day, you feel comfortable and welcome. They create a natural atmosphere for you to practice in. It’s beautiful that the program has people from Toronto and Arizona coming in from out of town and able to experience this.”

Katz – whose school principal is also a graduate of Ivriyon and recommended the program to her – expects the Ivriyon experience to inform her work with middle school Ivrit benchmarking and also lead to more Hebrew in her classroom. “I’ve gained a lot, to be able to think through the grammar and verb tenses before I speak. For the first time I understand the logic of the seven binyanim (verb structures) in Hebrew!”

Phreddy Nosanwisch is a student at the Davidson School pursuing a Master’s in Jewish Education. He is relatively new to learning Hebrew. “This had everything I could have wanted: more Hebrew, and time focusing on pedagogic skills. One of the important parts is learning from seasoned educators – amazing classmates who have all been in the field a few or many years. The opportunity to get feedback from my classmates on lesson plans and watch what they do has been a tremendous experience. I see all the different ways I can apply that in my classroom in the future.”

He continued, “In order to be a good teacher, one has to really identify with students about what’s it like to sit there and have to work so hard to understand, what’s it like to see something new? This program has given me the opportunity to be in the position of a student who is struggling, who doesn’t always understand what is going on, who is working really hard. I hope that will stay in my kishkas and help me understand what an amazing thing it is for kids to show up every day and put themselves in the posture of learning.”

Miriam Meir, Program Director of Ivriyon, says putting teachers in the place of their students is intentional. “It’s an experiential program. The teachers create with each other what we ultimately hope they will create in their classrooms. Teachers are the best students – they love to learn and they’re great about jumping right in to the water. It’s something that’s actually quite hard to do.”

She believes that it’s this experiential teaching component that makes Ivriyon a successful model for the professional development of Hebrew teachers. “At the heart of Ivriyon are the model lessons. That’s why teachers come out of Iviryon and say yes, I feel ready now to teach in Hebrew. It’s something I learned myself when I was learning to be a teacher of Hebrew language, studying at Hebrew University’s program to train teachers of Hebrew as a second language. We had to teach, everything was hands on. What is crucial for such a training program is that it be hands on and involve lots of practice teaching.”

Meir added that the importance of teachers being able to teach in Hebrew is to bridge the gap to see the relevance of Hebrew to Torah classes and Torah to Hebrew classes. “Teaching B’Ivrit helps students function on a higher level—to see Hebrew as more than a code that needs to be translated—so they can access Hebrew texts from any period. Teachers speaking Hebrew is a bridge to this higher level in which students function both in modern Hebrew in their language classes and can understand historical texts in Torah classes studies. Importantly, the questions teachers ask make it possible for students to understand texts would otherwise be beyond their grasp. Ivriyon enables teachers to make connections and create a holistic world for students to obtain the goal of learning Hebrew, the language of the Jewish people.”

For more information on Ivriyon, visit

Jul 252019

Leadership training programs typically use several different metrics to assess their success: the number of participants they recruit, the leadership positions their graduates assume, and the tenure of their leadership.  Another interesting indicator could be the number of individuals who go through a program and then return years later to join in running it.  The experience of being on both the “receiving and giving sides” of a training program is rare, and gives leaders an opportunity to develop unique perspectives and insights.

The Day School Leadership Training Institute (DSLTI), a professional development program of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), trains and supports a cadre of heads of school and upper-tier administrators to “think like a Jewish day school head.” The 15-month program consists of two summer sessions of three weeks each – one of which is currently underway – and several retreats during the intervening year facilitated by a team of skilled mentors currently heading Jewish day schools. During that time, leaders are exposed to all aspects of leading a day school, from mission, vision and philosophy, to budgets, instructional supervision, board relations, and conducting difficult conversations.  The 16 participants learn from, and are mentored by, experienced school heads who currently lead Jewish day schools.  The intensive, immersive program employs a constructivist approach, using creative case studies, simulations and collaborative work to help aspiring and new leaders acquire the skills they will need to succeed in what is now considered one of the most complex and challenging leadership positions in the North American Jewish community.

As DSLTI has matured – since 1998, it has graduated 144 fellows and is now training its 11th cohort – it has invited back several outstanding alumni to serve as mentors.  We interviewed three current “alumni-mentors” – Cheryl Maayan (cohort 7), head of the Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School in St. Louis, MO; Rabbi Ari Leubitz (cohort 7), head of Atlanta Jewish Academy in Atlanta, GA; and Rabbi Harry Pell (cohort 8), associate head of The Leffell School (formerly Schechter Westchester) in Westchester, NY – to share their unique dual perspective on what makes DSLTI such a special leadership training program for Jewish day schools.

First, they note that DSLTI emphasizes the critical role mission and vision play in running a Jewish school, and the leader’s responsibility to keep the big picture in mind, even as s/he deals with day-to-day decisions. “DSLTI helps you get out of the cycle of working toward deadlines and feeling like you are absorbed only in the day to day activities in the school and helps you think about your own leadership,” said Maayan. “We want to see the big picture.”

Before they can lead institutions and others, administrators must know themselves: their Jewish story, their personal values, and their strengths and challenges.  “It’s not only about the vision,” continued Maayan, “but also about this profound intersection of who I am as a leader Jewishly, who I am as an educator and what guides me, and how that plays out in the school: how I can use it to guide the vision of the school and learn and grow as a professional.”  The program devotes several sessions to articulating and sharing one’s Jewish journey, and includes regular study sessions as well as “spiritual check-ins,” a tradition begun by participants in cohort four.

Deep personal work is a hallmark of DSLTI, demanding openness and safety, trust and support – traits established early on in the cohort experience, and even across cohorts through an active alumni listserv. “DSLTI gives the encouragement, tools, network, and the shoulder to lean on sometimes, to be successful and make the school successful,” Rabbi Pell said. “Even people not in the same cohort are able to be open and vulnerable and share what has made them successful in their school, even if your school is 20 miles away and might be in competition. It’s standard that the first message you return in your inbox is from a DSLTI colleague posting on the listserv. We value what we provide to each other as a network to advance the cause of Jewish education.”

Maayan concurred: “When I was a fellow in DSLTI, my school was going through an unprecedented merger, and it was successful in large part because I was in that space of being at DSLTI. We were reading books about change management, and I had not only the books but also the colleagues who were there for me in a true sense. It’s having that network of people with whom you can be vulnerable and honest, who will be there for you no matter what, and who will get you back to that space of thinking in the big picture.”

The mentor-fellow relationship is another distinctive feature of DSLTI.  Each participant develops deep connections with an individual mentor as well as with the entire cadre of mentors. These connections last for years beyond the program. This relationship, too, begins with the focus on the person.  Rabbi Leubitz elaborated: “Mentorship starts off with understanding who the individual is and what’s their ultimate goal. Why are they here? What’s their personal ‘why’ for why they’re on this mission? What are their challenges, from a personal and institutional perspective?… It’s really hard to give someone advice and counsel and be a good ear if you don’t know them that well and trust is not established.”

When everyone shares honestly in a safe, empathic environment, the appreciation of others’ views and perspectives begins – a skill critical to leading successfully in today’s complex Jewish world.  DSLTI invests the time to explore varied positions on each issue, even if it lengthens the program. “You can’t get [one] degree and be ready to be a head of school,” Rabbi Pell explained.  “To get the toolbox to be a successful head of school, you need five or six degrees, such as an MBA and a Jewish Education degree. There are people in the current DSLTI cohort coming from backgrounds in the education side, from admissions, from development. DSLTI gives the skills and access to a network of people to allow them to think more broadly about how to lead the school.”

Maayan noted how the mentor-fellow relationship is most definitely a two-way street. “I talked to a lot of other mentors before I decided to become one, and they said being a mentor was the thing that kept them in the field. I have to completely agree. It nourishes me as a professional to be connecting with colleagues like we connect with them here. I feel like I’m the chief learner of the school. When I’m learning new things, I’m getting in the shoes of my students and role modeling for my teachers how we learn new things and move forward with our lives. I also feel like I can have an impact on the field, as I enter my twelfth year as head of school. We must have excellent people in the field who have what I’ve been able to benefit from.”

Rabbi Leubitz said that the gift he received as a fellow, and now as a mentor, has transformed every school he’s been in. “As people within the school start to use DSLTI’s language, or other graduates are in the school, it transforms how we work and how we problem-solve. Often there are challenges present in the culture of the school that we just don’t have the language to articulate. Within two or three words, I can say something to a colleague, and there’s loads of information that are already there, which is a wonderful thing.”

He added about the impact of DSLTI on his own school, “To be able to think strategically and holistically, it has to be in your brain, you can’t just go to a board or a book. DSLTI is pretty present in the way I think. That’s something I’ll forever be grateful for.”

For more information about DSLTI, visit:

Jul 182019

Pedagogy of Partnership (PoP) is an innovative research-based pedagogy for the design of relationship-centered education. Founders Dr. Orit Kent and Allison Cook have used educational research and their extensive experience to develop a pedagogical approach with concrete tools to improve learners’ communication and interpretive skills. The pedagogy teaches skills around havruta, or partnered text study, one of the great Jewish contributions to the history of teaching and learning that instills a sense of purpose into the study. PoP trains educators to take full advantage of the power of havruta study in Jewish studies classes and other disciplines as a lever to help student learning become more meaningful and student centered. PoP consults to educational organizations around the country and runs two day school programs in partnership with Hadar, an educational institute based in New York City.

Recently, PoP trained 24 Jewish educators in the methodology in a track at Hadar’s annual Day School Educators Institute.

“I’ve always been interested in havruta learning. I felt I wanted to do some more formal training with it, and especially teaching 5th and 8th grade this year, I wanted my students to have the tools to be good havruta partners,” said Lianne Gross, a Judaics teacher at Chicago Jewish Day School and participant in the recent program.

“I’m really glad I went. I had all these ideas going into the program about ways to teach havruta learning, but at the end of the program I had language and a framework for these ideas. I also got a better feel for what it would look like to teach these havruta skills,” she said.

The pedagogy emphasizes that there are three partners in a havruta – the two learners, and the text itself. This approach to Torah study proposes each learner take responsibility for the relationships between all three partners. To navigate through these relationships, PoP focuses on six partnership practices, or skills, bundled into three pairs of contrasting practices —Listening and Articulating, Wondering and Focusing, and Supporting and Challenging. On one afternoon, the group explored Wondering and Focusing as a tool to scan a variety of different directions of inquiry and dive into one that is particularly interesting.

Dr. Orit Kent explaining the six Pedagogy of Partnership practices

Dr. Orit Kent says she has seen how important this work is for educators. “Teachers are looking to learn new ways to work with students to meet their goals. For veteran teachers, it helps give them language and tools for deeply held belief sets. It’s a way to enrich what they’re doing and make meaningful changes to deepen student learning.”

“We also work a lot on the purposes of learning and elevating what that purpose can be for students. All of us need to think about purpose, and it’s satisfying for all teachers,” Allison Cook added.

Participant Zach Mann, Chair of Jewish Studies and Hebrew at the Rodeph Sholom School in New York City, agrees that PoP creates meaning in the day school classroom. “As Jewish educators, we always strive to have our students engage in meaningful work and to create an environment where meaningful work is being done. Meaning is a notoriously difficult word to nail down. What’s profound about PoP is that, through research, Allison and Orit have done an amazing job at describing the process of thinking that we should engage in, and giving language for it. The language of Wondering vs. Focusing and how these work together is really profound. It’s the movement back and forth between these mindsets that creates the meaning. We know it when we see it, but without this language it would be difficult to describe with any clarity,” he said.

“It’s a Pedagogy that’s about describing the process for doing havruta work that can easily work in tandem with other working goals and educational philosophies. I’m a believer in Understanding by Design, and I feel PoP and UBD can work hand in hand very well. One complements the other,” he added.

Naomi Bilmes, a Gann Academy English teacher, talked about the relevance of the havruta experience for her students.  “One awesome aspect of learning in havruta is the act of developing a relationship with another person. In schools you’re given many opportunities to build relationships as a group, but a havruta relationship can be different and special. You may not be best friends with your havruta. It’s a different relationship, about learning and yourself, and that’s a really important relationship for my students to experience.”

Lianne spoke passionately about the value of teacher training in havruta so that students could benefit from this modality of learning. “I feel very strongly that the skills students learn from being in a havruta partnership can be applied at any time at any point in their lives. Judaic studies is such a beautiful place to introduce this concept. Communication and silence and equal participation are the pinnacle of how we communicate with each other, and being able to do that in the classroom is a great place to practice. When I’m studying in a havruta that I click with, it fills me with so much energy, and that’s something I want my students to experience. I want them to feel comfortable stepping into Hadar or whatever beit midrash they choose and having a fulfilling and energizing havruta partnership.”

In addition to the Institute, PoP offers an online community of practice during the year for teaching and reviewing content as well as office hours for educators who may need more targeted assistance on applying the learning. For those with a team at their school interested in participating, the PoP Day School Fellowship is a multi-year program that trains a cohort of educators and a school leader within each school who can support and coach one another on the ground.

If you are a Jewish educator interested in incorporating or improving havruta learning and relationship-centered education in your classroom, Orit and Allison would like to hear from you. You may contact them via

Jun 192019

Are you a Jewish day school educator or funder interested in improving instructional practice in day schools? You may want to participate in the BetterLesson Showcases happening at Ramaz in New York City on June 24 and at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, MD on August 12. Teachers, coaches, and administrators from Jewish day schools across the country will share their journeys with personalized learning – including their experiences with BetterLesson coaching.

In 2018-19, 365 day schools teachers enrolled in a BetterLesson program and received one-on-one, personalized coaching from blended learning experts that enabled them to innovate and incorporate new personalized learning strategies in the classroom. BetterLesson offers a national program funded by AVI CHAI and regional programs in Miami, Boston and Seattle. Here are two examples of projects that emerged from the coaching:

Meirav Kravetz, who will be presenting at the Showcase in Maryland, is a Department Head at the Hebrew Academy (RASG) in Miami Beach, Florida, working in middle and high school. For the past two years, she met with her coach through BetterLesson every two weeks for a half hour each time. One outcome of the work was an interdisciplinary effort in the school to transform a local landfill site into a park, based on the model of Park Ariel Sharon in Tel Aviv. In Miami, everyone knows to avoid a hill that is a garbage landfill covered in grass. Could that landfill be transformed? Meirav worked with science and math teachers, and soon students were engaged in a project that entailed visits to the landfill and recycling plant, emailing in Hebrew with the park in Israel, and ultimately presenting a short film presentation with a business plan. All along the way, Meirav’s coach was supporting her to move from vision into practice, to measure the project’s potential outcomes and to present them, to capture the project’s development in pictures and film, and more. The project went on to win the Kohelet Prize.

“I feel that without having someone as my right hand supporting me in this process, it wouldn’t have happened,” said Meirav. “Having a BetterLesson coach is having someone who works together with you hand-in-hand, being a sounding board for your ideas and making them better and pushing you forward. It opened my eyes as a department head to look at things a different way, to try something and learn from what you’re doing for the future.”

Meirav is now working with BetterLesson as a coach for other teachers. She is grateful for the support and encouragement of Rabbi Avi Bossewitch, Dean of Academics and Innovation at Hebrew Academy (RASG), and Andrea Lucero, Principal of the middle school, and for the fact that professional development is a priority for the faculty at the school.

A Presenter for the New York Showcase, David Saltzman, also began receiving BetterLesson mentorship and is now part of the BetterLesson team of mentors for other teachers. He was mentored last year as Principal at the Maimonides School in Boston. He developed a personalized and blended learning experience for a tefillah class, a web-based program using google sites. One of the strategies employed was student self-assessment, where students could learn the art of knowing if they are ready to go on to the next lesson.

“My coach Romain Bertrand suggested I should frame the introduction of the class with the idea that the control of the learning is in the students’ hands. Empowering them with agency was not just a classroom lesson, but a life lesson. This impacted how kids experienced class.”

Next year, David will go on to be the Director of Teaching and Learning at the Lower School of the Yeshiva of Flatbush and Assistant Principal of General Studies. He hopes to enhance the school’s work with data collection, its use of new pedagogical techniques, and the personalization offered in the classroom – all of which dovetails with his upcoming work with BetterLesson.

“One-on-one mentoring is extremely powerful. My coach was someone outside the school who could bring a new perspective and offer pure, unadulterated help without another agenda. My coach understood what I needed and helped me get there step by step. I’m excited to be part of the team and work with teachers the same way Romain worked with me last year.”

For more information about BetterLesson and to register for the Showcases, see:

Jun 132019

Personalized learning seeks to increase student enthusiasm and learning by tailoring the instructional environment – what, when, how and where students learn – to address the individual needs, skills and interests of each student. We are proud that the Jewish day school field is making strides in the use of personalized learning to encourage students to take ownership of their own education while developing deep connections with one another, their teachers and other adults.

One cutting-edge example of the work to advance personalized learning in Jewish day schools began in September 2018 under the auspices of the Jewish New Teacher Project (JNTP), a division of the nationally-renowned New Teacher Center (NTC). JNTP is a leading organization fostering teaching excellence in Jewish day schools through teacher and principal mentoring and coaching. Since 2002, JNTP has supported 1,183 teachers with 494 mentors at 165 schools, 86% of which are still in the field of Jewish education and 72% still at the school they were in when they first participated in JNTP.  The new JNTP pilot, which is funded by The AVI CHAI Foundation, aims to build on JNTP’s record of success, helping teachers to bring innovative personalized learning approaches into the classroom and serve as a leading edge in American education.

Fourteen JNTP teachers and mentors participate in the program—from the Jewish day schools Barkai Yeshivah, Ben Porat Yosef, Yeshiva Har Torah, and Yeshiva University High School for Girls. Alongside leaders and experts in the field, educators in the program explore research on social-emotional learning, brain and education science, and learner variability. During in-person and synchronous online trainings, Valerie Mitrani, JNTP Project Lead, and Lisa Mount, NTC Project Lead, focus on developing mindsets around personalized learning and introducing participants to new NTC teaching and evaluation tools. Educators then build on their learning in online peer forums. Twice during the year (January and May), mentor-teacher teams receive individualized coaching on the tools presented in the trainings. The entire JNTP staff also participates in internal training on the NTC framework and tools.

Since three of the schools are elementary schools and one is a high school, the ways personalized learning plays out may be different across the schools. Thus far, the schools have reported that the initial learning was very exciting, and they are now eager to bring practical strategies into the classrooms for the fall.

JNTP is now exploring what strategies and educational technology tools can add value, and will look to identify and develop such strategies for the benefit of the Jewish day school field. Ultimately, the plan is that the learning gained by NTC, JNTP and the four schools in the pilot will inform all of JNTP’s work with teachers, mentors, and administrators across the country.

For more information about this pilot and about JNTP, please contact Valerie Mitrani,

Mar 122019

The second day of the Prizmah Conference in Atlanta, GA included a unique opportunity to use design thinking to crack “The Questions that Matter Most,” a dinner celebrating the field, and a rousing performance by the Distant Cousins. Throughout the day, there were also sessions offered that allowed an exploration of trends and ideas in the field that affect all areas of Jewish day schools. In accordance with the conference theme, “Dare to Dream,” here are some dreams from this second day of the conference.

  • We will make the case for Jewish day schools using evidence and research.
    In a session on “What makes for a great Jewish day school?” Dr. Alex Pomson and Dr. Jack Wertheimer discussed their research underway at nine Jewish day schools to explore three questions: 1) How is Jewish day school today a different “animal” today than 20 years ago? 2) How are day schools going about trying to address their challenges? 3) How do day schools understand what the educated Jew of the 21st century needs? The session discussed how the emerging research could be used to inform how day school leaders and other stakeholders make the case for Jewish day school in their communities.

  • Israel will be infused throughout Jewish day school life.
    “Israel lives within and through us; therefore, learning about Israel is most effective when woven throughout a learner’s experiences.” Dr. Lesley Litman from The iCenter talked about the work of iNfuse, a program that helps Jewish day schools explores questions such as: What does an Israel infused (in and through the learning) educational setting look like? How do we go about creating an Israel-infused environment? The conclusion was that Israel should be a living place – beyond “flags and falafel,” closer to “a shared language.”
  • Jewish day schools will thrive through creative financial strategies.
    At “Alternative revenue sources: yes, you can,” Dan Perla of Prizmah facilitated a conversation about bold new ideas that might help schools stabilize finances. The San Diego Jewish Academy has experimented with monetizing day school spaces, catering, and international exchange students, among other creative ideas. We also heard about an idea for a communal tuition fund that pays tuition and allows parents to pay it back interest-free based on income over time, using life insurance as collateral.
  • The Jewish day school field will be strong and vibrant, and continue to realize all its dreams.
    On the occasion of AVI CHAI’s last North American Jewish Day School Conference before our sunset, we were very moved by five toasts from field leaders: Rabbi Ari Segal, Cheryl Finkel, Nina Bruder, Jonathan Cannon, and Rabbi Marc Baker. May the field continue to realize its dreams.

Lesley Litman presenting

Jack Wertheimer Presenting

L-R: Nina Bruder, Rabbi Ari Segal, Cheryl Finkel, and Dr. Jonathan Cannon during the toasts

Mar 112019

The Prizmah Conference is taking place March 10-12 in Atlanta, GA. It brings together Jewish day school leaders, lay leaders, and communal professionals from across the North American day school landscape to learn from one another and be inspired to dream together. The first day’s full-conference experiences included an opening by George Couros on the Innovator’s Mindset and a dinner featuring an ELI Talks StorySlam with five presenters sharing stories about their dreams for Jewish education. In between, a plethora of sessions (among them quite a few by AVI CHAI grantees) further shed light on the theme of dreams. Here are just a few examples of dreams witnessed at Prizmah 2019:

  • Jewish day school leaders will be the change we want to see in the world.
    DSLTI alumni spoke at “Big Jewish Questions on Our Minds” on how to reimagine critical areas of day school leadership work ranging from inclusion of diverse learners to the changing demographics in the Jewish community. Many important ideas were shared about change, such as, “People want change, but they do not want to change” and the idea of looking internally at ourselves before we go out and change the world. The leaders who spoke – Andrea Cheatharn Kasper, Lianne Heller, Rabbi Ari Leubitz, Benjamin Mann, and Rabbi Harry Pell – and all the others engaged in this important work are an inspiration in not only what they do, but also who they are as leaders and how they are moving and will continue to move the field forward.
  • Children will construct Jewish meaning through exploration in a Jewish environment that stimulates and challenges.
    Rabbi Sheryl Katzman together with Carol Green and Laura Weisblatt shared about work conducted through the Legacy Heritage Instructional Leadership Institute Early Childhood Rabbinics Initiative, “Developing Text Aligned Learning Experiences for Young Children.” The conversation included the importance of giving early childhood teachers authentic foundational learning around Jewish texts so they can understand how to prepare the environment for students where Jewish meaning will flourish.
  • Courageous school leaders will have a clear vision of their schools’ Hebrew language goals and align their teaching to those goals.
    This dream was expressed in “Why Hebrew? Which Hebrew?” with Ofer Salman Sagi and Dr. Esty Gross, about how to “definite and refine your vision for Hebrew language instruction and set realistic and attainable goals.” Data is important to inform steps to realize that vision.
  • Schools will collaborate to shift paradigms and personalize learning in the classroom.
    Craig Carpentieri, Rabbi Avi Bossewitch, and Jodi Bruce presented on JBlend Miami, an initiative of CAJE-Miami in partnership with the DigitalJLearning Network of The Jewish Education Project that allows schools to collaborate to bring about sustainable, learning-driven change.

What dreams will you dream today?

In Case You Missed It: Recently on the AVI CHAI Blog

 Posted by on March 7, 2019 at 8:04 am  No Responses »  Categories:
Mar 072019

Whether you’ve been busy getting ready for the Prizmah conference, or filling out your application for the Harvard programs, or simply engaged in day-to-day life at a Jewish day school or other institution, we know you may not have caught all the latest posts on the AVI CHAI blog. Here we provide some posts of interest – you can print them out for some great Shabbat reading, and don’t forget to share with your school, professional network, and beyond.

Giving Away Knowledge, Free of Charge
By Deena K Fuchs

AVI CHAI has one year remaining before our sunset, having supported Jewish education since 1984. So what do we do with the knowledge we’ve accumulated over the years, and how we can best ensure that it has value for others? That is where thought partnership comes in. AVI CHAI’s Deena K. Fuchs writes on our aspirations for this year, and lessons we’ve learned so far about this work.

Getting Beyond the Survey
By Susan Kardos

Ever heard colleagues say something like: “We just finished this program/initiative/event and we want to do a survey…”? AVI CHAI’s Dr. Susan Kardos shares key insights and questions to develop effective surveys that garner useful and informative data.

Meet Chana German
By Galli Aizenman

Congratulations to Chana German on becoming Executive Director of The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education! AVI CHAI Program Officer Galli Aizenman took the opportunity to ask her some questions about herself, her vision, and her passions.

Toward a Strategic Philanthropic Approach to Field Building
By Susan Kardos

AVI CHAI’s Dr. Susan Kardos shares how we arrived at a field-building strategy as we planned for AVI CHAI’s sunset in 2020. “What became increasingly clear, with 10 years left to operate, was our overwhelming desire to leave behind a strong Jewish Day School field with the talent, institutions, resources, and ability to learn and innovate – a field that could meet the evolving educational needs of Jewish youth.”