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March of the Living Teens exiting Auschwitz

The BJE March teaches powerful lessons of Jewish history and personal Jewish identity with a profound impact on participants. On Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Los Angeles delegation, along with...

BJE Day of Service Learning at Shamesh Farm


Join BJE's co-chairs Amy Leibowitz and Madeline Miller, on Sunday, October 22nd from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm for [email protected] Community Service...

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For 83 years, BJE has been the only organization wholly dedicated to Jewish education in Los Angeles, across the religious spectrum and in all aspects. More than half of the money we raise to provide educational opportunities to young people in our community comes from individuals like you. BJE's Annual Campaign runs from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. We’re grateful for your support and can’t do it without you.


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March 31, 2020 at 9:00am

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BJE Builders
Aug 01, 2019

I’ve had a lifelong relationship with BJE. 

I remember well, Havurat Noar and Dor Hadash, BJE programs that brought youth together from all over the city. I went through BJE-affiliated religious schools. And when I was a student at UCLA, I had the opportunity to serve as a college representative to the BJE board. I served on the High School Programs committee. That was one of my first experiences as a layperson. My first internship as a freshman in college was in the youth department of BJE/Federation under Phil Liff-Grieff. I ended up going to HUC and getting a double degree in Social Work and Nonprofit Management. BJE was one of the things that really set me on that path. I went into Jewish communal work thinking I wanted to strengthen the Jewish world.

My husband and I got married and were both very connected to community. It was important to both of us to transmit those values to our children. We hope we gave our kids a love and appreciation for Judaism and their heritage. One of our first big trips as a family was to Israel. My kids did religious school, but it was very important to share Jewish experiences and life with them, too. You can’t just expect the Hebrew or day school teachers to do it for you.

Later, we encouraged our kids to become involved in NFTY because we wanted them to connect to the bigger community, and not just be insulated in our synagogue. Today, one of my daughters is working at a Jewish Day School (an HUC DeLeT grad) and the other one is studying to be a rabbi. BJE and its programs had an impact on our family. 

My parents were very connected to Jewish life and to Israel. When my dad passed away, it was natural for them to want to do something connected to Israel. My mom established the Lewis Edgers Scholarship Fund in my father’s name. I lost my parents at a pretty young age, but I know how important this was to them. My sister, Deborah Lieber, is also very involved in the community. She’s active in her temple life, and raised her two sons to be engaged in temple and community life. We both felt very happy about the idea of carrying on our parents’ legacy. I was so excited when I learned that I could continue to put money into this fund and help send kids on BJE’s March of the Living program.

I think being a builder of Jewish education means instilling the building blocks of Jewish life from a very young age. It means creating a lifelong learning experience. Jewish education instills continuity and will help with future generations. Just to call yourself Jewish is not enough. You need to understand your past, to feel comfortable in working towards a stronger Jewish future. We all have a responsibility to learn and grow as Jews – spiritually and culturally.

BJE’s March of the Living program is the perfect way to get this accomplished. You must  touch it, feel it and taste it, not just read about it in a book. I’m hoping our family fund will help build and grow connections to Israel, and also make an impact for our Jewish future. 

Judith Alban takes pride in her life-long commitment to Jewish life and her contributions as a Professional in the Jewish community. She currently serves as the B’nei Mitzvah Coordinator at Temple Beth Am. Lewis Edgers was a Los Angeles businessman who co-founded Crown Plastics Inc. in the 1970s. He was married to Ronna Edgers and raised two daughters in the San Fernando Valley. After a visit to Israel in 1975, Lewis became extremely passionate about his support of the Jewish state. He helped raise money for the LA Jewish Federation and other causes and upon his death, in 1984, the Lewis Edgers Israel Program Fund was seeded at the Bureau of Jewish Education by his wife, Ronna. And upon her death, in 2001, the fund was continued. 
It is the hope of the family that the memory of their parents’ vision will encourage teens to participate in BJE’s March of the Living program and will ignite a passion in them for the importance of Jewish continuity and a deeper understanding and love for the State of Israel. These were important values to Lewis and Ronna Edgers.  

Kids playing at home during the Coronavirus pandemic
BJE E-News
Mar 24, 2020

We are all working hard to keep our spirits high and make the most of what is undoubtedly a tough situation. As part of our family’s weekday schedule, every day at 4 PM when schoolwork is finished, we have a surprise activity. While I’ve bought everything on Amazon that I think my kids might enjoy (art projects, board games, lego sets, etc.), I also wanted to give them something special and unique to look forward to every day. Yesterday we played “The Grand Prize Game” (remember the Bozo show??) using kitchen bowls and easy, small prizes. Another day we FaceTimed with another family and played Bingo. The goal of these activities is to be fun, silly and irreverent with one bring a little light and laughter into our day.

As a Jewish educator, I’m already thinking forward to Passover and about what Passover themed surprise activities we can do as a family. I’m hoping these activities will be a great way for us to not only have fun as a family but to also enjoy Passover in new and exciting ways.

Before Passover: Set the tone with a Bedikat Chametz Scavenger Hunt. I found this great video on how to set this up for your family on BimBam.

Night One: Guess what! Finding the afikomen is perfect. If you want, put a little twist on the hunt and make it a scavenger hunt to find the afikomen. 

Night Two: Passover is all about asking questions. For those of you having a second Seder, this one works. For those who aren’t, it still works! Candy questions. Have a big bowl of candy in the center of the table. Every time a child asks a question about something from the Passover story or seder, they earn a piece of candy.

Night Three: Play the Ten Plagues version of Minute to Win It! With only 60 seconds on the clock, can anyone complete these Passover tasks? 
●    Frogs: Play spoon frog! Players must use a teaspoon to catapult another teaspoon into a glass. Check out the YouTube video for help.
●    Hail: You will need ping pong balls and spoons for this one. Give each player a spoon and ball of “hail” (ping pong ball). Each person must walk holding the spoon with the “hail” on the end to a designated point and back within the minute.
●    Blood: Contestants carry water in small dixie cups to pitchers with red food coloring at the bottom. Can they fill the pitcher in 60 seconds?
●    Darkness: You guessed it, participants must be blindfolded for this one...Blindfold Bowling! Contestants bowl blindfolded as many times as needed until they knock all the pins down (can be red solo cups, toilet paper rolls, water bottles, etc.) or until the minute is up. 

Night Four: Masterchef Junior: Charoset Making. Put out bowls of many potential charoset ingredients (lots of recipe ideas here) Have contestants mix and match and make their own charoset. Who will be the MasterChef?

Night Five: Matzah topping taste test...with a twist! Have a table set up with matzah topped with a variety of toppings (cream cheese, butter, jelly, chocolate spread, sun butter, etc.). Blindfold your kids and have them try to guess what topping is on the matzah. In the end, everyone can vote for their favorite topping!

Night Six: Passover Game Night! Who doesn’t love family-friendly game night? You can make some of your favorite games all about Passover. Print out pictures of Passover symbols and play a silly game of Heads Up. You could also try a Passover version of Would You Rather, or this family-friendly Passover Escape Room.

Night Seven: Cross the Red Sea obstacle course! Create a backyard obstacle course using anything you can find in the house -- pillows, chairs, exercise equipment, etc. Challenge your kids to get through the obstacle course to cross the Red Sea and escape Egypt!

Night Eight: On Passover, we are taught to recline. Using pillow and blankets, create your very own Passover fort! And then eat pizza in it!

This Passover will undoubtedly be difficult for many of us, as we won’t be able to celebrate with extended family and friends (though you can always Zoom your loved ones!). I hope these activities will bring a little extra light and love (and Passover learning!) into your homes.

Lisa Alpern is the Principal of Wilshire Boulevard Temple's Glazer Campus Religious School and a past BJE board member.

BJE Thought Leaders
Mar 30, 2020

With Pesach on the near horizon (the evening of April 8), thoughts of this year’s seder loom large.  For decades, my family has been blessed to celebrate Pesach with many people around the seder table.  Often, I have asked those gathered to share a reminiscence of their most memorable seder.  Responses to this question have been wide-ranging, invariably involving interaction with others.  Memories of family, close friends or unique settings or circumstances are common motifs.  A seder limited by considerations of health to those living in the household is, with rare exceptions, surely a seder experience like none other.

Perhaps this Pesach, as never before, we can understand the anxiety that the plagues we reference at the seder must have evoked among the Egyptians.  How severe will it (locusts, hail, etc.) get?  How long will it last?  What will be the immediate and long term economic impact?  How many lives will be lost?  These are questions that are all too real, world-wide, at this time.  They are questions that are very much on the minds of those who suffer from hunger, disease, dislocation and natural disasters; the current, universal confrontation with Coronavirus cannot but heighten our consciousness of the plight of others.

The seder narrative recalls our ancestors’ journey from the slavery of Egypt, to Sinai and toward the land of Israel.  We try, each year, to place ourselves in that story and relate to it as though we ourselves are leaving Egypt.  Why is it, though, that slavery and oppression mark the origins of the Israelite nation? Rabbi (Lord) Jonathan Sacks aptly notes that “the Bible gives an unequivocal answer,” to this question.  “You shall not do what others have done to you.  ‘Do not oppress the stranger, because you know what it feels like to be a stranger:  you were strangers in the land of Egypt.’”  The charge of our particular narrative is, in short, to be a blessing to others.  

The seder, as so many Jewish rituals, begins with a blessing (over the first cup of wine).  Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888) observes, in the spirit of Rabbi Sacks’ explanation of the significance of the national origins of the Israelites, that the words “barukh atah,” blessed are You, convey an important Jewish sensibility.  Barukh atah does not mean “bless me;” rather, it is a declaration: “may God be blessed through me.”  With every berakhah we recite, we affirm our commitment to this mission.

Elijah the prophet is, in Jewish tradition, associated with redemption; hence, his special welcome at the seder.  Famously, Elijah, seeking God’s presence, finds God not in a mighty wind that split mountains, and not in an earthquake and not in a fire, but in a “still small voice” (I Kings, 19:12).  This year’s seder will likely be less boisterous than others, because of social distancing in response to Coronavirus.  Perhaps, as in the case of Elijah, we will – in this year’s more subdued seder, a seder like none other—hear that “still small voice” calling on us as on our ancestors to draw upon our experience to “be a blessing.”

Dr. Gil Graff is the Executive Director of BJE

Photo by NEC Corporation of America with Creative Commons license.
April 22, 2020 at 2:00pm

BJE’s 3rd Zoom Professional Development of the year will be

Wednesday, April 22th at 2:00pm.

Improve your practice and learn in the comfort of your...

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