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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Engage in family friendly, hands-on community service activities for all ages. Featuring Joel Stern, Specialist in Jewish origami art and storytelling. Activities will end in a Tashlich service.
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.
While students across Los Angeles were busy enjoying summer vacation, many of their teachers were busy preparing for another great school year, thanks to professional development opportunities offered through BJE.
On June 3rd, clergy, educators and lay leaders from LA-area synagogues gathered for BJE Reshet-LA's second Yom Limud (day of learning), focused on post b'nei mitzvah engagement. Participating part-time congregational schools included Kol Ami, Kol Tikvah, Temple Ahavat Shalom, Temple Aliyah, Ramat Zion, and Valley Outreach Synagogue.
During the summer, directors from nine part-time religious schools, met with BJE staff to set the stage for bringing new innovative models to learning at their schools. Participating directors were from: Kol Tikvah, Leo Baeck Temple, Silverlake Independent JCC, Stephen Wise, Temple Menorah, Valley Beth Shalom, Valley Outreach Synagogue, and Wilshire Boulevard Temple.
Early Childhood Centers:
During the summer, participants from seven early childhood center in Cohort 4 of The First 36 Project, benefited from one-on-one coaching to help them develop and/or strengthen their Parent and Me program. This coaching will continue throughout the year at all 11 Early Childhood Centers participating in this year’s fellowship. Summer coaching took place with participants from: Adat Ariel, Emek, Maimonides, Sephardic Temple, Temple Akiba, Toras Emes, and Wilshire Boulevard Temple. The First 36 program is a project of the Simms/Mann Institute in collaboration with BJE and the Jewish Federation.
From August 5-8, more than 20 K-5 teachers from nine different schools participated in BJE’s Responsive Classroom training. The program targets all core areas of instruction by offering teachers strategies to effectively manage their classrooms, create a positive community, offer engaging academics, and use developmentally responsive teaching practices. Responsive Classroom training has been proven to increase student engagement and performance in schools that have implemented their model.
On August 12, nearly 40 K-6 teachers from 14 schools gathered for BJE’s Executive Function and the Art of Classroom Design. Led by Pediatric Occupational Therapist Lindsay Astor Grant, the program focused on how the physical design and layout of a classroom can impact a child’s learning potential. Session content included defining executive function skills and their impact on the brain's ability to be in an optimal state for learning, and offered teachers ways to modify their classroom environments in order to support the development of these skills in students.
Schools that participated in the two day school professional development programs included: Bais Chaya Mushka, Brawerman, Beth Hillel, Cheder Menachem, Emek, Heschel, Kadima, Maimonides, Or Hachaim, Pressman, Sinai Akiba, Wise, Tashbar, Temple Israel of Hollywood and Valley Beth Shalom.
Participating teachers were engaged and energized by what they learned, and excited to bring their new skills back to classrooms across the city.
All of the above-listed professional development programs were made possible, in part, through funding from the Jewish Federation. Costs for the day school professional development opportunities were covered by Federal Title IIA Professional Development Funds that BJE secured on behalf of a coalition of BJE-accredited day schools.
Each August, as a new school year approaches, the cycle of Torah study is in its “home stretch,” nearing the close of the fifth and final book of the Torah, Devarim. Devarim means “words.” It is a title drawn from the opening phrase of the book: “These are the words that Moses spoke….” The context is dramatic: Moses, liberator, lawgiver and leader of the Israelites for forty years, will soon die; the book is his farewell addresses, delivered over the last weeks of his life. Devarim offers much on which to reflect, as a new school year begins.
The very fact that an entire book of the Torah is comprised of Moses’ words reminds us of the possibility of growth and development. When initially called to go to Egypt to speak to Pharaoh, demanding the Israelites’ freedom, Moses famously replied: I am not a man of words (Exodus 4:10). Over the course of time, Moses developed the ability to express himself, guiding a sometimes contentious community. Fittingly, he is known in Jewish tradition as Moshe Rabbeinu, Moses our teacher.
As a visionary educator, Moses devotes his closing addresses to cultural transmission to the next generation. He recognizes that successive generations will live in very different circumstances than those prevailing in his time and place. Accordingly, while advising parents to teach their children, he does not prescribe how instruction is to be conducted. Each child is unique, as is every era; modalities of teaching and learning would surely vary.
Looking to the society that might be created in the Promised Land, Moses envisions the possibility that “There will be no poor among you, since the Lord will surely bless you…” (Deut. 15:4). Yet, a few sentences later, he offers guidance on measures to be taken to address the privation of the needy. Moses understood the importance of education for resiliency; circumstances will not always match the desired ideal. Each individual and society as a whole must learn to respond to challenging situations that inevitably, arise.
Devarim is also known as Deuteronomy, from the Greek words meaning “second law.” Moses, in his addresses, repeats laws earlier communicated. Beyond recapping the experiences of the Israelites and reviewing specific laws, Moses adjures: “You shall do what is upright and good…” (Deut. 6:18). The aim of Jewish education – consistent with this instruction – is to develop an ethos of right conduct. Roots in the past combined with tools and wisdom to build the future; resilience; and the ability to navigate an ever-changing world with a well-grounded sense of the upright and the good – “take-aways” from the closing words of Moshe Rabbeinu – are an apt introduction to the new school year. To parents, educators and students alike, best wishes for a shanah tovah, a year of goodness and growth.
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.