"Linking Silos": Creating More Accessible and Integrated Jewish Education
One of the major challenges facing Jewish education today is to provide learners with ready access to a seamless continuum of learning opportunities. Meeting this challenge will require new levels of cooperation among educational institutions and across various educational domains.
To help advance this process of "linking silos," the Lippman Kanfer Institute facilitated a “community of practice” for central agencies seeking to create more accessible, engaging, and integrated Jewish educational systems for learners and their families in thir communities. Senior professionals from more than two dozen agencies participated in conference calls and webinars, and contributed to the Institute's research on "silo linking."
Webinars on Leading Systems Change
An important series of webinars for this community of practice featured presentations by Ellen Kagen Waghelstein of Georgetown University on "leading systems change," "adaptive challenges," and "skills for 21st century leaders." These webinars are available for listening and viewing by clicking on the following links: Webinar Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
During 2009-10, the Lippman Kanfer Institute joined with JESNA's Learnings and Consultation Center to offer an additional series of webinars applying these concepts to the redesign and transformation of our systems for delivering supplementary Jewish education. These webinars are available through the Sosland Online Resource Center.
Together with JESNA's Berman Center, the Institute also undertook a case study of the Los Angeles Bureau of Jewish Education's Concierge for Jewish Education program, a model effort in encouraging expanded educational participation.
Download the Research Brief: Making Connections: A Case Study in Linking Silos
Day School Education in Challenging Times: Examining the Strategic Options
In 2009, the Lippman Kanfer Institute was commissioned to identify and analyze a variety of ways in which day schools that face persistent enrollment, financial and/or educational challenges can continue to provide the kind of quality Jewish learning and socialization experience that day schools have delivered for thousands of Jewish children and families. Under the guidance of a Design Team made up of top day school professionals and other educational leaders, the Institute prepared a policy report, "Day School Education in Challenging Times: Examining the Strategic Options," that analyzes a number of strategies that schools can pursue in order to increase enrollment and financial viability, as well as a number of alternative models that schools and communities may wish to consider if and when a high quality conventional day school cannot be sustained.
Download the Working Paper: Day School Education in Challenging Times: Examining the Strategic Options
Enhancing the Impact of Jewish Social Entrepreneurship: Jewish Innovation Think Tank
In September 2008, JESNA’s Lippman Kanfer Institute initiated the first large-scale gathering of stakeholders in the "Jewish innovation sector" -- promising new projects, organizations and change agents for Jewish education and Jewish life. To follow up on this conference and continue its efforts to strengthen the innovation sector, the Institute is partnering with Jewish Federations of North America and Jewish Jumpstart on a Jewish innovation think tank to gather and disseminate insights from the broader field of social entrepreneurship, distill learnings and best practices from innovating organizations, and address key issues relating to the success of the innovation sector, such as funding strategies, defining and measuring success, program development, building support systems, and “scaling up” to maximize impact. The Think Tank convened for the first time in December 2009, a two-day conference held in Toronto in cooperation with that community's UJA Federation. Participants in the Think Tank explored a range of issues affecting the vitality and effectiveness of the innovation sector in Jewish life and relationships among the various constituencies comprising the innovation "ecosystem." You can read a summary and analysis of the Think Tank and the ideas discussed here.
The Institute also promotes information sharing and ongoing communication among those interested in Jewish Social Entrepreneurship and New Leadership Development by sponsoring the Jewish Social Entrepreneurship group on Facebook.
Envisioning the Future of Congregational Education
The Lippman Kanfer Institute organized and facilitated the Working Group on Congregational Educational Change to bring together leaders of major local, regional, and national congregational educational change initiatives to share ideas and help envision the future of congregational education. The first stage of the process distilled key learnings and challenges emanating from the collective experience of a dozen major change projects. These learnings have been synthesized in the Institute's Working Paper, "Transforming Congregational Education: Lessons Learned and Questions for the Future."
In the second stage of the project, discussions focused on a wide range of issues that are affecting the development and evolution of new models of congregational education, including approaches to and challenges of transformational change, the roles of leadership, and visions of the future of congregational learning.
Download the Working Paper: Transforming Congregational Education: Lessons Learned and Questions for the Future
FutureTense NY Roundtable: The New Landscape of Jewish Learning
Some of the most exciting and innovative Jewish learning taking place today is happening in settings beyond traditional educational institutions. Vibrant Jewish learning is happening as part of social justice environmental and service learning programs, through the arts and culture, on line, in minyanim and other emergent spiritual communities, and as part of new forms of Jewish community - both "real" and "virtual." During 2009-10, the Lippman Kanfer Institute, in partnership with the PresenTense Institute, brought together innovators in Jewish learning from a number of these settings to share insights, look more closely at the future of these new models and venues Jewish learning, and consider their implications for Jewish education in mainstream settings.
First-hand accounts of moments that transformed a Jewish consciousness
In recent years a good deal of attention in Jewish educational discourse has been given to so-called “transformational experiences.” These are the events and encounters that can dramatically change a person’s beliefs, values, self-understanding, and behavior – in short, one’s life. Some have argued that creating such experiences and fostering such transformations should be a cardinal goal of our educational efforts. Other are more measured, believing that there is a serendipitous element involved in transformational experiences that makes attempting to “engineer” such experiences difficult, and even potentially counter-productive. Nonetheless, there is much that we can learn and potentially apply to our Jewish educational work by understanding better when, how, and why such transformations take place.
The Lippman Kanfer Institute’s Program Assistant, Monica Rozenfeld, set out to do just this. She invited friends, colleagues, and individuals who read her blog or heard about her quest from others to share their stories of transformational experiences, what she came to call “Jewish Sparks.” The narrative that follows recounts a number of these stories and offers Monica’s reflections on what we might learn from them.
Eight college girls get together every Wednesday night near Rutgers University to study Torah. These girls were once considered indifferent, unaffiliated, unengaged or even “on their way out” of Judaism. Today, they study Tanakh, Prayer, Holidays, Hebrew and divrei Torah. Five of these girls are preparing to spend a year in Israel to study.
What happened that changed the course of their lives from one of non-engagement to one in which they embrace their Jewish identity first and foremost? All those who shared their stories for this report had different experiences, unique moments that sparked the changes in their lives. But all of the diverse entry points led to a similar process of transformation. Each has embraced what Judaism has to offer in their own way, making their Jewishness something that they feel really belongs to them, and are all today living “Jewish” lives.