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For Immediate Release
300 Jewish Educators Gather for 2nd Annual NewCAJE Conference
In the first week of August 2011, over 300 Jewish educators from North America and Israel gathered for the second annual NewCAJE Conference at the American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro, NC. NewCAJE conferences bring Jewish educators from around the globe together to share ideas, learn from each other, and improve the quality of Jewish education offered in every community. Among those attending were (add names of people from your community.)
Over 80 presenters, which included well-known Jewish educators, professors, rabbis, cantors, artists, musicians and activists for many Jewish causes from all educational settings and denominations, offered courses on diverse topics geared toward improving and broadening Jewish education. Just one page of the program book included sessions by Joel Lurie Grishaver on how to use experiental education to teach Torah; Jennifer Judelsohn on how to integrate the arts into subject matter; Deborah Grayson Riegel on supervision, interpersonal communication, time management and other topics covered in a business school; and a session by Peninnah Schram and Cherie Karo Schwartz on how to use storytelling to encourage active learning, activate the imagination of children, and fine-tune listening skills. In addition, so and so from our community gave a well-attended session on.....as did so and so whose session (insert name of session) was also enjoyed by participants.
Fifty young Jewish professionals, in their twenties and thirties, participated in the conference. They are teachers, youth directors, educational directors, rabbis and those working for Jewish organizations and causes. As emerging leaders of Jewish education, they met to clarify their vision of Jewish education in the 21st century. They also gathered to make sure that the vision of the founders of NewCAJE – that Jewish educators need a place to network and advocate for Jewish education – continues in a new generation. NewCAJE was founded two years ago after CAJE, a national organization of Jewish educators since 1976, went bankrupt.
The conference Keynote address was given by Dr. Kenneth Stein, the William E. Schatten Professor of Contemporary Middle Eastern History, Political Science and Israeli studies at Emory University. Dr. Stein’s address challenged Jewish educators to become more familiar with the facts about what is happening in Israel and to teach it to their students. His speech was entitled Knowing Israel like you know the “Four Questions”.
In the evenings, there were concerts featuring the best of Jewish music and storytelling. Headliners included Julie Silver, Michelle Citrin, and Sam Glaser. The closing evening session featured Ellen Allard, and the “NewCAJE Chorale,” directed by Cantor Linda Hirschhorn who also gave a stunning solo performance. The chorale was formed with NewCAJE participants who met throughout the conference to learn the material, culminating in an a capella performance of Jewish liturgical pieces. The evening also included stories by up and coming storytellers, as well as performances by the winners of the NewVoices song competition for emerging Jewish songwriters. Michael Kates of The Baal Shem Tones produced the concerts each evening.
NewCAJE was the result of the vision and dedication of Rabbi Cherie Koller-Fox (Newton, MA), a founder and past president of CAJE. Koller-Fox, along with Jerry Benjamin (Milwaukee WI), Peter Stark (Framingham MA), and Ahouva Steinhaus (San Diego, CA) bought the intellectual property of CAJE from the bankruptcy court, and worked tirelessly to ensure that the legacy and mission of CAJE not be lost. If they are successful, CAJE might well be the only Jewish organization to go bankrupt and still return to the scene.
Rabbi Koller-Fox felt that this conference was a turning point. “Seasoned Jewish educators,” she said, “can rest easier knowing that there is a new generation of Jews (our students!) who are passionate about their responsibility to transmit Jewish knowledge, culture and tradition. They deserve the same support, on-going professional development, and a chance to share their innovations and accomplishments that we had in our careers.”