Congregational Religious School Educators Start Their Year with Inspiration at Local Conference (August 30, 2015)

About the Event
While most local residents enjoyed a quiet and relaxed Sunday, 75 Jewish educators from our community's congregational schools who teach kindergarten through high school grades were kicking off the new school year in high gear. Held at Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton and titled “Hineni: Here I Am,” the Jewish Congregational Educators’ Conference focused on making development of Jewish identity relevant, engaging and compelling for all ages of students.

Educators and directors from the Barry Ira Graff School for Living Judaism at Congregation B’nai Israel, the Mirochnick Religious School at B’nai Torah Congregation, The Religious School at Temple Beth El, and The Religious School at Temple Sinai of Boca Raton spent the morning learning together. Guest presenter Emily Weisberg traveled from California, where she works with Facing History and Ourselves. She used her organization’s latest resource, Sacred Texts, Modern Questions: Connecting Ethics and History Through a Jewish Lens, to explore the complex question of identity by using text and connecting it to the students’ own self-exploration, connecting text from Exodus to the students’ own exploration of self, to connect them to Jewish tradition in their lives and world today.

Before the guest presentation, local educators presented excerpts from their professional development summer learning opportunities.

  • Facing History and Ourselves – Kim Beame, RJE; Education Director, Congregation B’nai Israel; Robin Eisenberg, RJE, Director, Jewish Learning and Living, Temple Beth El; Cheryl Epstein, Assistant Education Director at Congregation B'nai Israel; Kelli Haar; Lisa McNerney from Temple Beth El; Zach Smith and Stephanie Goldstein from B'nai Torah Congregation.
  • Center for Israel Education – Mira Davidson, Congregation B'nai Israel
  • Yad Vashem Jewish Educators' Seminar – David Cotton; Temple Sinai
  • NewCAJE 6 – Hannah Springer, Congregation B'nai Israel
After lunch together, the educators met with colleagues from their own congregational schools to ready themselves and go over the logistics of the year.

The conference was organized by the South Palm Beach County Council of Education Directors, and Marilyn Nachman, Director of School Educational Services for the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County’s Department of Jewish Education