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August 27, 2004 - Image 29

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-08-27

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$2 000 000 in loans available

Courting Teachers

Finding new Jewish educators is a hard sell.

Education of Metropolitan Detroit. "It's
a question to us of survival on many
The college students seemed excited to
Hempstead N.Y.
be at the conference — which held ses-
t might seem like a tough sell to get
sions on everything from Jewish medita-
someone to go into the field of
tion to teaching strategies — but they
Jewish education: The pay is poor,
are aware of the difficulties of a career in
benefits are often nonexistent and the
only perk may be free stationery supplies. Jewish education.
"I have a passion for education, but I
But that view misses the point: Jewish
am very realistic when it comes to
education can be one of the most
finances," said Amir Kalay, a student
rewarding, fulfilling and enjoyable pro-
from the University of Utah. The
fessions around.
Hebrew school at which Kalay teaches
At least, that's what some Jewish edu-
cators were telling a group of college stu- part-time paid for him to attend the
dents at a conference of Jewish educators conference.
"I think education will always be a
on Long Island.
hobby of mine, but I want to be able to
"We help them look at Jewish educa-
support a family," he said.
tion as a career, not necessarily a job,"
The median annual income of day
said Yuri Hronsky, a day-school teacher
school educators is $41,250, according
from Los Angeles and chair of the CAJE
to CAJE. For early childhood educators
Schusterman College Program, which
it's $15,000, and congregational-school
pays for college-age Jews interested in
educators, who generally work
Jewish education to attend the
only a few hours per week,
annual conference of the
average $2,500.
Coalition for the Advancement
Preliminary results of a sur-
of Jewish Education.
vey conducted by Eliot
"This is a great first step.
Schaap, CAJE's assistant exec-
There's always more'we can
utive director, show most
do," Hronsky said.
alumni of the college program
Twenty-six Jewish college
choose careers in Jewish edu-
students on Schusterman
cation. But since the group is
scholarships were among the
so self-selective, it doesn't
Wendy Sadler
1,500 or so people at last
reveal much about the appeal
week's Conference on
of Jewish education to the
Alternatives in Jewish
broader Jewish public.
Education held at Hofstra University.
As Jewish educators bear an ever-
The college program, which covers the
greater share of teaching young Jews
students' conference fees of about
about being Jewish — students are get-
$1,000 per person, is one sign of the
growing recruiting challenge Jewish edu- ting less and less of that from their par-
ents — the survival of the Jewish people
cators face.
is at stake, educators say.
Rising costs, noncompetitive teachers'
"What does that say about us if we're
salaries and dwindling Jewish knowledge
not committed to providing people with
at home have made the job of teaching
a gainful living?" Spack said. "The
young Jews about being Jewish more
Jewish community has to wake up.
difficult. The same factors also make
Jewish kids are not being encouraged to
finding people to do that job harder
do this as a career.
than ever.
"There's a tremendous attrition rate in
"The personnel crisis in Jewish educa-
Jewish education. They work for a cou-
tion is quite serious," said Eliot Spack,
ple of years and then they get burned
CAJE's executive director. "Finding peo-
out, overloaded."
ple is tough. What's the incentive?
That's one thing that worries Josh
Certainly not the dollars."
Fixler, a college student from Denver
That's why recruitment programs like
who wants to become a rabbi.
this one are so important, educators said.
"I want to be a normal father, a nor-
"How do we re-infuse new, young
mal husband," he said. "I have to bal-
people into Jewish education?" asked
ance what I want to do for the Jewish
Wendy Sadler, director of special proj-
community versus what I want to do for
ects for the Alliance for Jewish

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