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.
BJE offers a wide range of support to day schools (accredited, full-time K-12 private schools), educators and families with the goal of helping ensure the highest levels of quality and accessibility across the religious spectrum and through the greater Los Angeles area.
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There are Discussion Group Meetings following each National Webinar by Shinui. Today's discussion group is to process Webinar #1 held in October entitled, "Entering a New Paradidgm for Jewish Education with David Bryfman"
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 Sunday, October 6, more than 80 people gathered at the Japanese Garden in Balboa Park for BJE’s fall Day of Service Learning. Hosted by BJE’s JKidLA and PJ Library, the event was part of BJE’s semi-annual service learning program offered to the community.
Guests of all ages participated in activities, which included making New Year’s cards and five different types of origami artwork, which was delivered, to residents at the Jewish Home for the Aging. The theme for the day was Respecting Our Elders and Each Other. Families were also provided with age appropriate discussion questions to engage with their children as they participated in the activities. During the day, groups also assembled to participate in Tashlich, the Jewish High Holy days ritual of gathering at a body of water to symbolically cast off ones sins (in this case bread) and recite prayers of repentance.
BJE’s Day of Service Learning is co-chaired by sisters-in-laws Amy Leibowitz and Kimberly Schwarz, with additional support from BJE board members Sharon De Mayo and Linda Resnick. All agreed that the day continued BJE’s successful run of service learning experiences for families. “The timing was very special, because it gave people the chance to participate in Jewish reflection and service during the High Holy days,” shared the co-chairs. “We were especially moved to hear from individuals and families who said they would not otherwise have had a place to partake in this type of meaningful holiday experience.”
BJE’s Days of Service Learning are a wonderful way to bring family and friends of all ages together to share in hands-on community service projects and Jewish learning.
It is a common practice for organizations to ask people to pledge their support in order to meet immediate needs. This is referred to as annual giving. The Torah, however, imagines a much longer-term commitment when it comes to education.
In the story recounted in Parashat Va-etchanan – which we read a few weeks ago – Moshe gave the People a pep talk as they prepared to end their travels in the wilderness and enter the Land of Israel.
“Take utmost care and watch yourselves scrupulously, so that you do not forget the things that you saw with your own eyes and so that they do not fade from your mind as long as you live. And make them known to your children and to your children’s children.” (Deuteronomy 4:9)
There are three separate instructions in this verse:
1. Don’t forget your experiences in the wilderness.
2. Don’t let the feelings and commitment which came from these experiences fade.
3. Share your experiences with the next two generations.
There is an emphasis here on experience. According to the stories in the Torah, what the Israelites saw and heard and felt was amazing. No one who lived through those decades in the wilderness would ever forget them. But as the writer Flannery O’Connor wrote: “Knowing who you are is good for one generation only.” If you don’t instill the same ideas and feelings in the next generation everything stops with you.
Passing along Jewish culture, values, and history is not simply about reciting facts or ideas; it is about being part of something larger; a sense of connection we feel, whether to God, to the Jewish People, or to Israel. Schools and parents don’t just pass along information; they pass along who they are. As Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote: “Israel is not a people of definers, but a people of witnesses.”
We can’t, therefore, just be the funnel for information. Our role is much more complex. Each one of us is a “stand in” for the people who came before us. As the Passover Haggada tells us, “In each generation a person must see him or herself as if he or she personally went out of Egypt.”
This notion of a multi-generational commitment is also seen in Parashat Nitzavim, the parasha we read right before Rosh HaShana. The message there is:
“You stand here this day, all of you… to enter into the covenant.” The Midrash Tanhuma says that every single Jew, including those not yet born, and even those who will someday convert to Judaism, were standing there, committing themselves to this covenant.
Make them known to your children and to your children’s children.” Whether they are your own children and grandchildren, or someone else’s, we are summoned to assume responsibility for the education of two generations of Jews.
As we enter a new year, it’s important to note that the commitment and focus of BJE, and all of our affiliated schools, is the future. While we certainly concern ourselves with issues for today and tomorrow, our most important task is to ensure a Jewish future for children who will be here 25 and 50 years from now.
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...
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.