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...
seeks to inspire Jewish youth to “Learn. Act. Reflect. IMPACT.” BJE's goal is for youth to engage in meaningful service opportunities.
Stay connected. Follow our Builders, BJE Highlights,
Education Trends, and Event Updates.
National Webinar Series on Thriving: This National Webinar Series is developed by and implemented by Shinui, an organization comprised of 9 similar RSEN’s in cities across the United States. All of the National Webinar Series webinars can be...
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.
On February 20, BJE’s Reshet-LA will "graduate" eight schools from Tier One of the program, bringing to 15 the total number of part-time Jewish school programs engaged in the practical work of school innovation. As the program continues to grow, participants are benefiting from the unique opportunity to connect with and learn from national experts in the part-time religious school world, opportunities that are only made possible through BJE.
BJE’s Reshet team responds to the evolving needs and interests of school participants. Affinity groups enable participants to focus their work in specific areas of mutual interest. Currently, affinity groups exist in Hebrew language learning and Project Based learning. Three new affinity groups will launch March 2020 and focus on community building, post b’nai mitzvah engagement and teacher training. In each group, participants have the opportunity to connect with national leaders and successful innovators in the various areas.
BJE is part of a network of eight communities working on innovation in part-time Jewish education. In March, the Reshet-LA group together with other members of BJE’s Religious School Educators Network, will participate in the fourth national webinar of the year, linking educators from these communities, during which they will take virtual tours of two highly successful and dramatic changes in religious school programs in New Jersey and Massachusetts. This will be a chance for Reshet-LA participants to discuss the practical implications of the programming they have been learning about and beginning to implement in their schools.
Randee Bishoff, Director of Education at Temple Akiba, and was one of the first educators to become an innovator with Reshet. “Being part of Reshet LA has allowed me to access communal resources that colleagues on a local and national level have developed. Reshet LA has provided the guidance and resources for Temple Akiba of Culver City to keep up with cutting-edge initiatives in Religious School supplementary education. By providing recognized experts in the field, Reshet LA has helped Temple Akiba bring our Hebrew education program into the 21st century and, more importantly, has enabled our students to better connect to the language of the Jewish people!”
Leafing through the pages of the February 21-27 Jewish Journal, I spotted headlines of Journal stories published 20 years ago. One caption, in particular, caught my eye. “Day School Count: A new census yields surprising results on Jewish day school attendance.”
My attention was drawn to this headline because BJE annually compiles a count of students at BJE-accredited Jewish day schools in greater Los Angeles. A look at this year’s enrollment shows that, in 2019-2020, more than 10,000 students are attending K-12 day schools, an enrollment level not seen since pre-recession (2007-2008). Though the total number of students at L.A. day schools again exceeds 10,000, two trends stand out in comparing today’s count with that of a dozen years ago: the distribution of students as between Orthodox day schools and Community/Conservative/Reform day schools, and the percentage of students receiving need-based tuition assistance.
During the past dozen years, enrollment of students at Community, Conservative and Reform day schools has declined 20% (900 students), offset by growing enrollment at Orthodox day schools. While, in 2007-2008, 55% of L.A. day school students attended Orthodox day schools and 45% attended Community, Conservative or Reform day schools, current enrollment distribution is 64%/36%. As day school tuition has increased, the aggregate percentage of students at L.A.’s 38 BJE-accredited Jewish day schools receiving some measure of need-based tuition assistance has increased from 40% to 55%.
Enrollment in local public and private schools has declined over the past decade; there seems to be a decline in the number of school-aged children in the area. It is conceivable that today’s 10,000+ students in L.A. Jewish day schools represent a greater percentage of Jewish children of school age than did the 10,000+ students enrolled in 2007-2008. At this point, however, such speculation is nothing more than conjecture.
The Jewish Federation is to be commended for embarking on a demographic study of L.A. Jewry (the first since 1996) that can provide information to help identify and better understand community needs. A report is expected by late 2021. BJE looks forward to the benefit of such data to help inform its strategic work in building a vibrant and enduring Jewish future through education. There are excellent and diverse day school options available to children and families in greater Los Angeles, and we celebrate the facts that, as a new decade begins, enrollment in these schools again exceeds 10,000 students; and schools and their supporters (including BJE and the Jewish Federation) have, in many cases, made it possible for students requiring tuition assistance to access the opportunity of day school participation.
BJE’s impact is felt throughout greater Los Angeles. These are just a few
ways we’re making a difference this year.
Across the Jewish spectrum, Jewish schools in Los Angeles receive a wide range of services and support from BJE.
From birth through young adulthood, young Jewish people in Los Angeles are engaged in Jewish life through BJE programs and accredited or affiliated schools.
BJE leverages the strength of our vibrant community to generate public and private funding that benefits Jewish educational programs and institutions throughout Greater Los Angeles in a wide range of ways.