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August 12, 1988 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-08-12

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New Commission Will Push
Jewish Education Priorities


Special to The Jewish News

erusalem — Uniting
educators, scholars and
lay leaders is essential
to improving Jewish educa-
tion in North America and,
according to Hebrew Univer-
sity's Seymour Fox, a newly-
formed commission is perfor-
ming this task and elevating
Jewish education as a com-
munal priority in the process.
Speaking last week to
educators from North
America, Europe and Israel
as part of the 13th annual
conference of the Coalition for
the Advancement of Jewish
Education (CAJE), Professor
Fox claimed front-line
educators — those in the
classroom — scholars at
universities and communal
leaders seldom work together
to tackle the needs of Jewish
"These three elements are
waiting to be developed," Fox
said. "Jewish brainpower at
North American universities
and in the arts and the
media, is waiting to be in-
vited to work in the field of
Jewish education and com-
munal leaders are prepared to
work for Jewish education to-
day in ways like never before!'
Fox, who directs the School
of Education at Hebrew
University and established its
Melton Center for Jewish
Education in the Diaspora,
said the new Commission of
Jewish Education in North
America, whose 43 members
include lay leaders, scholars
and educators spanning Or-
thodox, Conservative and
Reform viewpoints, "can
make something dramatic
take place."
Fox said Cleveland philan-
thropist Morton Mandel, who
helped create the commis-
sion, insisted that for Jewish
education to be a top priority
outstanding communal
leaders would have to be
brought together to change
the agenda of North America
The commission held its
first meeting in New York on
Aug. 1. Fox said that over its
anticipated 18-24-month life,
the commission will develop
programs, projects and fun-
ding sources. He added that
the creation of demonstration
centers, where new and in-
novative teaching concepts
and techniques will be shared
with educators, is a likely
Fox said interviews with
commission members prior to


the meeting revealed their
top priority was improving
professionalism in Jewish
education through better
salaries, job enrichment, lad-
ders of advancement, net-
working among peers and
development of codes of
ethics. Also, he said, commis-
sion members believed Israel
had to be central in any con-
cept of Jewish education.
Fox cautioned educators not
to view the efforts of lay
leaders, and the commission,
with skepticism.
"They are reaching out and
we need to learn a lot from
them," he said. "They are
learning we are in Jewish
education because it's rewar-
ding and exciting, not because
we can't be rich, successful
businessmen . . . This com-
mission is an important

symptom of what Jews can
and will do for Jewish educa-
Fox's presentation was one
of more than 200 sessions of-
fered to almost 2,000
educators at Hebrew Univer-
sity's Mt. Scopus campus be-
tween July 31-August 5. Ad-
ditionally, more than 80 day-
long field trips were offered
throughout Israel on subjects
ranging from "Reappraising
the Myth of Massada" and
"Gaza Through Arab and
Jewish Eyes" to "Yuppies,
Yemenites & Yiddishkeit"
and "The Israeli Jewish
More than 70 Detroit-area
educators participated in the
conference. The Jewish
Welfare Federation offered
$500 subsidies to stimulate

Joint Projects Planned
For Detroit, Yavneh

A group of 20 Detroit-area
Hebrew school teachers and
administrators met with
counterparts in Yavneh,
Detroit's new Project Renewal
partner, to devlop relation-
ships leading to joint pro-
gramming this fall for
children in both communities.
The educators' day-long
visit to Yavneh, a growing
community of 22,000 situated
between Tel Aviv and Ashdod,
occurred three days prior to
the joining of 1,800 of their
peers from North America,
Europe and Israel on July 31
for the 13th annual con-
ference of the Coalition for
the Advancement of Jewish
Education (CAJE) at Hebrew
University in Jerusalem.
The Detroit contingent,
which included educators
from United Hebrew Schools,
Temple Israel and Shaarey
Zedek, toured Yavneh's com-
munity center, schools, day
care facilities and Neot
Shazar, the neighborhood
targeted for much of Detroit's
Project Renewal attention
and dollars.
Then, with facilitators from
the Melitz Institute, the
Detroit and Yavneh educators
met in a series of roundtable
sessions to devise programs to
draw children from the com-
munities closer together.

UHS Director Ofra Fisher,
who helped arrange the
gathering, said the Detroit
participants will meet next
month and select one or two
projects "that can be done

She said one idea is to ex-
change videotapes, with
children from one communi-
ty discussing the things they
care about and getting
answers from their peers in
the other community.

Another idea, she said, is
teaching "Pillars of Fire" in
Yavneh with a special kit and
discussion techniques devised
by UHS. While Israel televi-
sion carried "Pillars of Fire,"
which chronicles the events

A day-long visit by
20 Detroit
teachers will lead
to several

and personalities responsible
for the state's rebirth, she
said many Israeli youth still
need to learn more about the
state's history.
Utilizing computer pro-
grams devised by Yavneh
educators in Detroit Hebrew
school classrooms is also a
possibility, Fisher said.
Detroit plans on investing
more than $2.2 million in
Project Renewal funds in
Yavneh over the next three
years. It has established an
endowment to help maintain
projects completed in Ramle,
the community's previous
Project Renewal partner.


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