By Elana Rivel, Associate Director

This past September, Jewish Learning Venture and Gratz College began collaborating on a grant, from the Center for Jewish Life and Learning, Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, to explore, create and implement meaningful changes in Supplementary Jewish Education in our community. Our work led us to our first exploration, a Youth Summit on Jewish Education. We invited delegates from the area’s congregational schools, and non-day school educational communities, to participate in creative exercises designed to illicit feedback on meaningful Jewish learning experiences and dreaming about potential models for the future of Jewish education.

Yesterday, on Sunday, February 1, over 100 delegates, representing 25 educational communities from all seven neighborhoods of Greater Philadelphia attended the Youth Summit at Gratz College. The day was quite extraordinary. Our delegates were serious, completely engaged, and eager to share their experiences and advice. The Youth Summit truly showcased our motto – Listen for Change: we exemplified the importance of asking questions, listening and respecting the wisdom that kids have and encouraged them to Listen for Change that will happen as a result of their work. We encouraged them to speak with their clergy and educators about their experiences and about their dreams and to help facilitate change in their home communities as well.

I want to recognize and appreciate our colleague Rabbi Erin Hirsh, Director, NEXT at Gratz College for her collaboration, wisdom and insight in putting this amazing day together.

Our partner in the development of the content of the Youth Summit was Gidon Isaacs, an educator/rabbinical school student with years of experience helping to facilitate change in supplementary school.

I would also like to appreciate the hard work of our facilitators, all community members who are committed to Jewish education: Tami Astorino, Sydnie Ciment, Jennie Nerenberg, Lori Rubin, Rachel Saifer-Goldman and our extraordinary helping hands, Lenore Brian, Mindy Cohen, Dodi Klimoff and Robin Minkoff.

The Communal Conversation continues at the upcoming Adult Summit on Thursday, February 26 from 7:00pm-9:00pm at Jewish Learning Venture. Parents, Teachers, Clergy, Education Professionals and interested community members are encouraged to put their voice into the conversation.

The Youth Summit welcomed delegates from the following educational communities:

Adath Israel
Adath Jeshurun
Beth Am Israel
Beth Chaim Reform Congregation
Beth David Reform Congregation
Beth Sholom Congregation
Congregation Beth El, Yardley
Congregation Beth Or
Congregation Kol Emet
Congregation Or Ami
Congregation Tifereth Israel
Har Zion
Jewish Community High School of Gratz College
Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel
Kesher Israel Congregation in West Chester
Kol Tzedek
Mishkan Shalom
Ohev Shalom of Bucks County
Congregation Ohev Shalom, Wallingford
Old York Road Temple-Beth Am
Or Hadash – A Reconstructionist Synagogue
Temple Brith Achim
Temple Judea of Bucks County
Temple Sholom In Broomall
Temple Sinai

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