A commitment to life long learning and family engagement in congregational life.
By Judy Winberg
Chair, Department of Education
At this exciting time, as we officially embark on the Renewal of Space and Spirit, what better time than now to launch the Youth Education Task Force? We begin our work on Monday, February 2, 2015 and plan to present findings late spring.
At the December Temple Board meeting approval was given for this important work to proceed. A task force, by definition, is established to work on a specific task or activity. The Youth Education Task Force, led by acclaimed Jewish educator Michelle Lynn-Sachs, PhD., and Holy Blossom Department Chair of Education, Judy Winberg, M.Ed., is charged with the task of establishing a vision and strategic direction for Jewish education throughout the congregation, concentrating primarily on children and youth from kindergarten to grade 12, and their families
An impressive group of seventeen Temple members, along with Rabbi Jordan Helfman, Debbie Spiegel, Director of Education and Lisa Isen Baumal, Director of Youth Engagement, will meet monthly to review the successes and acknowledge the challenges that we face at Holy Blossom. Under the guidance of Dr. Lynn-Sachs we will explore a variety of alternative methods of delivering programs and enhancing Jewish learning to engage and excite our young members and their families.
Congregational religious schools, also referred to as Hebrew and Supplementary Schools, across North America are serving a very different demographic than even one generation before. We see the changes here in our Jewish community. In Toronto we have witnessed the sharp increase in the number of Jewish day schools and a higher percentage of Jewish school-aged children attending these schools. We see families with one and two full time working parents juggling the demands of their already full schedules with the dramatic increase in number of children’s extra-curricular activities. These realities begin to account for some of the changes, one of which is that enrollment in the Temple school has decreased.
At the Task Force we will explore how other congregations have been creative in engaging parents in children’s education by developing Family Education programs, in offering synagogue housed after school day care for students attending secular school programs, and incorporating a Jewish summer camp structure and ruach (spirit) into their educational programming. The research has shown that changes such as these are transformational.
As the newly appointed Chair of the Department of Education I bring a professional background in education and a personal commitment to life-long learning. I welcome your comments and encourage you to share your ideas with me and with members of the Youth Education Task Force. My congratulations and sincere thanks to those who have agreed to serve who are: Daniel Abramson, Dylan Aster, Sheryl Brody, Ariel Dalfen, Katy Diamond, Meredith Englander, Jill Farber, Aaron Goldberg, Denise Gordon, Gillian Helfield, Jennie Howard, Melissa Hylton, Neil Jonatan, Eric Klein, Micki Mizrahi, and Gail Silver.