On behalf of the Boards of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, we are delighted to convey to you the news that both the JRF Board and the RRC Board have voted overwhelmingly to approve a proposal to create a united organization of the Reconstructionist movement. The board of the RRA endorsed the proposal and congratulates the JRF and RRC on this accomplishment.
JRF Education Committee – January 19, 2010
Minutes from conference call:
Participating: Isaac Saposnik, Jeff Eisenstat, Erin Hirsh, Cindy Shulak-Rome, Nancy Hersh, Elliot Michaelson, Bob Barkin, Jeffrey Schein, Carl Sheingold
Erin to CA to visit next convention site, Ed Director from University Synagogue
NJ: PELE Conf.
Isaac: camp good- summer very enrolled
Nancy: son engaged, planning a wedding, other son to have a baby
Elliot: business as usual. Unique participation in Makom synagogue initiative, brings Israeli teens into communities to bring Israeli culture into synagogue and teen programs. Nancy’s shul participates in this also—this year a 25 year old. Also family trip to Israel for the synagogue
Bob: Went to White House for Chanukah party
Jeffrey S- expecting 2nd grandchild
Jeff Eisenstat: Heading to west coast for program at University Synagogue to recruit for retreats and camp. Have a week at JCA Shalom—need min of 50 kids for the week of August 17-23.
This is an important time for us because if he does not get the 50 min for the mini camp, then it will be important to look at other geographical options for developing other camp sites. KI is thinking about doing a Hebrew Ulpan program at camp, in lieu of school during the year they do 8 mini retreats, but they don’t include Hebrew. So they are hoping this is a way to build in Hebrew.
Pulling from entire Western Region- 3rd-7th grade. At Malibu site.
1) Lauched TEL in October, 56 kids at Kallah, but ~80 total participating. Kids were enthusiastic even though we were confined to indoors due to weather (snow and cold). 50% of participants had been to camp and 50% had not. This worked well. The curriculum was launched with overview of Tikkun Olam ideas, 7-8 lessons provided for work in congregations. People using it differently but feedback has been very positive. Vision of using Facebook to keep groups in touch with one another has been the weakest link—not sure why that is not working
Most of schools who have used TEL did not have strong 8th grade programs previously. Already other congregations planning to use it next year. Is there a limit to how many participants we can accommodate at camp for the kallot? Isaac says we can do 100 people total in front cabins, with the heder ohel and Bonim cabins it adds a bit more. We could max out the site in a year or two.
2) First draft of "Ready-mades" being developed by Jackie Land—on Judith Kaplan Eisenstein, for 3 age levels. Focuses on role of music and first Bat Mitzvah. Looks parallel to the MK bio published by TA, but Erin’s goal is to make it a bit more vibrant. Goal is to have it completed in 2 months and be underway with the next module.
Early elementary, B’nai Mitzvah age, Adult are the age levels
JS suggested she includes cross references for connections to other modes of study.
Music connection—will include the songs we are most familiar with, possibly creating a CD, JS asks if they will include her cantata which is often used in confirmation classes. Another possibility Elliott mentions is to put the music on line as password protected for people who purchase the lesson, this could keep the costs down and be appealing to kids.
3) PELE conference- Erin working with PELE and JESNA on maximizing effectiveness of congregational schools. Valuable that she can be a voice at the table.
Introduction of James, who has joined us from Salem, OR to participate in a discussion about model contract for Ed Director.
Erin continues to get requests for support and guidance through the hiring process. Erin looked at models of other movements and conversed with Nancy and other members of RENA as to how they might become proactive in advocating for their members. RENA decided to draft a model contract, which James will present. Erin encourages us to raise questions, comments which will be taken back to RENA and then ultimately we would like Education Committee to recommend this document to the Exec for their endorsement.
Carl: Is it an assumption that FTE are under contract? J: yes, but they vary widely. Erin says there are part time educators who don’t have a contract. Based on the exp. working on the Rabbinic model contract, it took several years. Real balancing act and challenge was to find a way to make the contract an aspiration even if cong were not there yet.
Eliott: Contract strikes a good balance between benefits and compensation that one can expect but accounts for needs of congregations. One potential conflict in the general description is vacation days and stipulation for two days off per week. Suggests that there be a basic explanation for the fact that the work is seasonal. Also suggests black out periods during the year when the Educator is not expected to be present. Needs to be something built in about the schedule. Need to have flexibility for indiv. Congregations. Might also need to have a model document for part time Ed Director. Also, value of working on different days of the week varies and says synagogues need to be aware of this. For example, educators give up family time to a greater extent when they are working every Sunday than when they are working every Wednesday…..Supplementary schools that run on Sundays will often require educators to be working all weekend. They need to have some “black out” dates so that they have some time off.
Eliott is chair of principal’s council in Toronto. Compensation should be according to the tasks involved. These issues
Nancy: Need to stipulate what constitutes full time and part time. Many educators are considered part time but work full time.
James: Two days off each week was impt for the issue of self care and people need time on a weekly basis to refresh and restore their energy.
Jeffrey Schein: From synagogue point of view it is hard to define what a “day” is. The guidelines are important but need flexibility as well.
Prelude to the document would ideally provide awareness to some of the issues Eliott raises. Erin agrees and says she could work on this and get input from RENA and Education Committee members.
Specific case came up with a congregation. A prospective family was educating their children in both the church and the synagogue and wanted to know if we have guidelines. JRF has clear guidelines that schools should not educate children who are also being educated in other religions. Upon review, the guideline is written more as a policy. On website it has been pulled from the task force document and has no accompanying thought piece. People who are in the field of education don’t find it surprising but for those who come knowing our values of inclusion, and that we embrace many in interfaith marriages, it can be surprising and off putting. Erin would like to revisit this, not in question of the guidelines but to reframe the language and put it in more thoughtful context.
Moving forward: Erin will send everyone the piece from Boundaries and Opportunities report in the context of the recommendation. There are a couple of pieces on the web, one by Richard H and one by Amy Small, as well as something by Laurie Zimmerman. Would welcome other documents on this issue. Erin would like to compile a study packet and together revisit this issue and work on reforming the language and determining what Erin could be sharing.
Elliot inquires as to the nature of the problem? Is it just an issue of the language? If congregations don’t accept it then they don’t accept it.. Erin says it will be valuable for her if we can have a conversation to flesh this out and give her some guidance. Erin will send out documents and Erin and Cindy will plan the conversation on this subject for our next meeting.
Thanks to all who participated!