“Jewish Education ‘in a Café, Under a Tree, or in a Dorm'” by Renee Rubin Ross

Reference: Jim Joseph Foundation

October 23, 2010

In some ways, newly hired educators Jordan Magidson, Jessica Shimberg, and Zac Johnson each fit the expected profile for a Jewish educator. Magidson, who started work as a Nadiv Educator at URJ Camp Kalsman and Temple de Hirsch Sinai, completed a Master’s in Jewish Education from Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. Rabbi Shimberg, currently Associate Director for Jewish Life and Learning at University of Maryland Hillel, received rabbinic ordination at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Rabbi Johnson, currently a Director of Jewish Enrichment in BBYO’s Western regions, is an alumnus of the Shalom Hartman Institute and Yeshivat Hadar’s summer program.

But these educators’ traditional credentials belie changes occurring in the training and hiring of experiential Jewish educators. Since evaluation has demonstrated the effectiveness of immersive Jewish learning experiences and the value of a more personalized Judaism, organizations are increasingly seeking to engage young adults in this manner. As a result, more experiential education positions offer teachers the opportunity to create meaningful Jewish experiences outside of the classroom.

This spring, Jim Joseph Foundation professionals watched closely as the Foundation for Jewish CampHillel and BBYO conducted job searches for fourteen new experiential Jewish educator positions funded by the Foundation: six Nadiv educators who pivot between working at a Jewish camp during the summer and a day or synagogue school the remainder of the year; five Hillel Senior Jewish Educators (SJE) who utilize existing social networks to engage Jewish students in meaningful learning experiences on college campuses; and three Directors of Jewish Enrichment who are strengthening Jewish learning in BBYO.

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