Friday, October 10, 2008

Job Posting: Executive Director of the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center

Adam Berman writes: the coming months, I will be leaving my position as Executive Director of Isabella Freedman. The past six years have been the most meaningful years of my life. Together with an exceptional board of directors and an amazing staff, we have recreated an institution that is bringing extraordinary gifts to the world. We have welcomed, nourished, taught, inspired and loved more than 30,000 visitors. We have provided -- and continue to provide -- Jewish programming that is cutting-edge and unique. By integrating environmental stewardship and spirituality with Judaism, we have connected thousands of young adults and children with Jewish tradition and community. And we are inspiring the New York metropolitan Jewish community to engage in environmental issues in ways that were not possible just a few years ago.

Being part of Isabella Freedman has enabled me to express who I am and my highest vision for the Jewish community in ways that I do not believe would have been possible at any other organization. My gratitude is infinite.

As a proud member of the board of IFJRC, I want to publicly offer my deepest gratitude for the phenomenal work Adam has done over the past six years. A full description of the position for Executive Director is posted on the Isabella Freedman website at: Please share this link with anyone whom you think may be appropriate for the position, or anyone who may be interested.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The High Cost of Jewish Life is on Everyone's Mind this Yom Kippur

This just in, from my friend Adam Dershowitz:

Of course, once again, Chabad was there first (well, to be fair, Larry David and HBO probably deserve the credit, but Chabad is making good use of it):

Join Chabad for High Holidays! from JAB MEDIA on Vimeo.

This clever little video, adaptable for the Chabad house near you, is the brainchild of Jewish Abstract Media. Kudos. And G'mar Chatima Tova.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Get trained to save the world

Two of our favorite organizations, Abraham's Vision and Jewish FundS for Social Justice (JFSJ) have launched innovative training programs this past month.

Through their Center for Transformative Education, Abraham's Vision is

"training students to work as facilitators of groups in conflict, utilizing methods created and designed by a foremost expert in the field, Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom’s School for Peace. Co-taught by an Israeli and Palestinian co-facilitator/co-educator team . . . this course will be offered in partnership with Columbia University’s Center for International Conflict Resolution (CICR) from January 2-10, 2009 and the University of San Francisco from Monday through Friday from January 12-23, 2009."

Visit their website for detailed course information and an online application for one of the 18 spots available in each of the two trainings.

While the Abraham's Vision training doesn't directly incorporate any specific opportunities to make use of your new facilitation skills, the main purpose of the JFSJ training is to recruit new staff for their travel and service learning programs

"which provide opportunities for teams of college students, young adults, teens and families to participate in on-the-ground service in partnership with communities throughout the United States; to learn about relevant historical, social, and political issues through the lens of Jewish ethics and values; and to reflect on their own engagement in the world. Each program lasts between four and seven days, and is staffed by two or more Program Leaders.

". . . The training seminar to be held in the Gulf Coast, from Wednesday January 28-Sunday February 2, 2009. The seminar will comprise a hands-on service project, engagement with local community organizations, political education, social change education, textual engagement and personal leadership development. Program Leaders will staff at least two trips during the program leading year."

Detailed information , including instructions for how to apply, is available on their website (along with a number of other available positions and internships).

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Immediate Opening-- Full-Time Jewish Studies Teacher

For those who have not yet heard, the concept of "full-time teachers" has begun to expand beyond the walls of Central Synagogue in Manhattan. Here is a listing for such a position from Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn , New York.

Our growing and evolving Jewish education program needs a core teacher!

Congregation Beth Elohim, a dynamic Reform congregation in Park Slope, Brooklyn, seeks a full-time (Mon-Thurs and Shabbat morning) or 4-day a week (Mon, Tu, Thu, Shabbat morning) Jewish Studies teacher to join our supplementary and family Jewish Education program, called Yachad.

The core teacher is part of a creative team of Jewish educators who develop curriculum, teach elementary aged students Jewish studies, communicate with parents and families, and lead innovative Jewish holiday and Shabbat programs for our families, and have ample opportunities for professional development. To learn more about our program, go to

Qualified applicants have an interest in being involved in a vibrant, progressive Jewish community and educational program, a BA and experience working with children and families in formal or informal (camp, youth group) Jewish settings.

Please submit cover letter and resume to

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Family Israel Trip Mix 2008

I was forwarding this list to a friend, and thought, well, why not share it with everyone? Here's the tracks from the mix CD that was made for one congregation's family Israel trip. Most of these can be found on YouTube (although no guarantees that what you're watching is the actual video created by the band and not a "tribute" by an enthusiastic fan, as in the link for Idan Raichel's song below). Enjoy!

  1. Brachot Leshana Chadasha (Blessings for the New Year)

The Idan Raichel Project

  1. Kol Galgal (Voice of the Wheel)

Shotey HaNevu’a (The Fools of Prophecy)

  1. Salaam (Peace)

Sheva (Seven)

  1. Hebrew Man

Ehud Banai

  1. Midabrim Al Shalom (Speaking about Peace)


  1. Yihi’ye Tov (It Will be Good)

David Broza

  1. Ein Ani (No “I”)

Shotey HaNevu’a (The Fools of Prophecy)

  1. Lo Frayerim (We’re not Suckers)

HaDag Nahash (The Fish Snake)

  1. Shuvi El Beiti (Return to My Home)

The Idan Raichel Project

  1. Ahavtia (I Loved Her)

Shlomo Artzi

  1. Hi Kol Kach Yafah (She’s So Pretty)

Kaveret (Beehive) – a/ka “Poogy

  1. Fanan (Awesome, Dude)

HaDag Nahash (The Fish Snake)

  1. HaYom (Today)

Ehud Banai

  1. LeHavin Et HaMayim (To Understand the Water)

Ivri Lider

  1. Sigapo

Beit HaBubot (House of Dolls)

  1. Esther

Ehud Banai

  1. Tzlil Mehuvan (A Tuned Sound)

Tzlil Mehuvan

  1. Yaldutenu (Childhood)

Kaveret (Beehive) – a/ka “Poogy

Who will teach Religious School?

Last Spring, I participated in a panel convened by JESNA to discuss its recently released study of Educators in Jewish Schools.

The report confirmed what we had all already suspected - that just as Religious Schools are finally being taken seriously by the Jewish world, and as we are starting to see increased investment in their success, we are facing a teacher shortage. This may not sound like new news: After all, since at least as far back as the 60s we have heard that there are not enough qualified teachers to go around. What has changed is that now its becoming harder to find people who even WANT to teach in a Religious School (or a Day School), qualified or otherwise. JESNA cited all the reasons you would expect - low salaries, a general lack of respect for the position, and so on. Another segment of the panel presentation is posted here, in which I express my concerns about competition between institutions for a shrinking number of qualified professionals and note the trend towards individuals working as "home tutors" rather than school teachers.

Here is my favorite section of the JESNA report:

Teen Labor. These are the 32% of Jews in Jewish work who first entered the sector through part time or summer jobs held during their high school and college years, and who have continued in Jewish sector work ever since. If we include those who left Jewish work for some period of time before returning, the majority (52%) of Jews working in our six Jewish communities started when they were in high school or college. Most of those who held jobs as teens were camp counselors (35% of all Jewish workers) and/or religious school teachers (27%) and/or youth group advisors (14%). Not many held internships (5%).

We regard this finding as especially significant. Camps, religious schools and youth groups are American Jewry’s primary gateway into Jewish sector work, providing Jewish communities with about half of their Jewish personnel. Although designed as educational venues to socialize children, these organizations have a substantial, perhaps unintended, consequence for American Jewish life through their role as employers of teenagers and young adults.

One idea that I'm increasingly hearing being floated is the creation of a Jewish "Teach For America," that would attract students just out of college to spend a year or two teaching in a Jewish school (Chabad, as usual, is ahead of the curve with their "roving rabbis" shlichut program, which places rabbinical students in various under served Jewish communities). While this idea is quite attractive, it would face a number of significant challenges (besides funding and organization) - most importantly, perhaps: Ensuring that the participants have not only a support network but also a peer network (teaching can be a lonely business, after all).