Reforming education

Reforming education

As a member of Congregation Beth Hatikvah and a board member of the Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life, I would like to thank New Jersey Jewish News for sharing an important example of Jewish education reform (“School offers alternative Hebrew lessons via Skype,” Sept. 12). Like the secular education world, there is an urgent need to make Jewish education work for our children and our future. It must be relevant and accessible, so we as parents choose to make it a priority in the full lives our families lead. Without reform now, we will continue the alarming rates of assimilation that our people face. The “do nothing” option simply won’t work if we want to have Jewish grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

CBH is a congregation that constantly challenges old norms to remain pertinent to the lives of the members of our vibrant community. Our Religious School VisioningCommittee has been working for the  past few years to reimagine our religiousschool.

Along the way, we joined other synagogues in E3: Exploring Educational Experiences, a collaborative Greater MetroWest initiative run by the Partnership to nurture Jewish education reform across our community and our country. Like the Jewish Camp Enterprise of Greater Metro-West, E3 works with our synagogues to strengthen our community by pooling resources, sharing ideas, and providing support to help our youth find their unique personal connection to their Jewish heritage.

As participants in E3, CBH benefited from the supportive nature of the cohort. When Mrs. Hersh presented our new on-line Hebrew school program, the E3 leadership and our peer synagogues provided valuable feedback that helped to enhance the program’s success. We are thankful for that support and the collaborative nature of this work.

The good news for the Jewish people is that there are extensive efforts underway across the nation to make Jewish education work for our families. The bad news is there is still far too little collaboration on the  ground. If you are reading this letter, you care enough to know that we face  a serious threat that  challenges our very existence. Our work together embracing collaborative networks is long past due. That is why the work of our synagogues, the  Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life, and the many national groups working on Jewish education reform is imperative to our future and deserves your attention today.

Gary DeBode

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