Jewish Education Goes Green At CAJE 33
Noted Scholar and Author Leads Jewish Education Conference
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Shira Dicker
Burlington, VT (August 14, 2008) -
"If you want to see the future of Judaism, look at CAJE," says
Dr. Joel M. Hoffman as he walks through the hallway of the
hyper-modern Davis Center at the University of Vermont in Burlington.
The university was the setting for the 33rd annual convention of CAJE,
the Conference on Alternatives in Jewish Education, which is the
largest gathering of Jewish educators in the world.
Hoffman typically spends his summer writing from his home in
Westchester, NY, but this August he headed north after a year of
planning to chair the 2008 CAJE conference.
CAJE brings together rabbis, cantors, and supplementary-school
directors, but mostly it's a forum for synagogue teachers. The
majority of Jewish children in the United States learn Hebrew and
Jewish culture from supplementary schools located at synagogues.
"Teachers are the future of Jewish life," says Hoffman. "Today's
classroom content becomes tomorrow's living Judaism." Hoffman and his
co-chair, Melanie Birger-Bray, were thrilled at the overall turnout,
which topped 1,500, and particularly pleased at the number of young
educators who made the trip to Vermont.
Hoffman divides his energies between academia and synagogue-based
education. "I think that who we teach is more important than what we
teach," he says, adding that he uses his academic background to find
challenging and accurate material for religious-school students.
Hoffman, who has taught at venues ranging from Brandeis University in
Waltham to the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, currently
teaches at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in New
York City and serves as Director of Education at Temple Israel of Northern Westchester
in Croton on Hudson, NY. He has authored or contributed to 13
More information about CAJE and Dr. Hoffman is available from
www.CAJE.org and www.Lashon.net.
Jewish Education Goes Green At CAJE 33
Over 1500 Jewish Educators Will Attend Annual Convention
August 10-14 at the University of Vermont in Burlington
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Shira Dicker
New York, NY (August 5, 2008) - Jewish education goes green this
summer at the CAJE 33
conference, the central gathering of Jewish educators in America, to
be held August 10-14 at the University of Vermont in Burlington: Fresh
Ideas, Fresh Topics, Fresh Air. This year's conference promises to be
the largest in the past five years and was sold out for several
The action-packed, world-wide gathering will draw a plethora of authors,
speakers, performers, teachers, clergy, storytellers and other headlining
personalities. Over 1500 participants are anticipated, as educators from
across America - including students and dozens of others from overseas --
will have the chance to attend master classes and network in an
environmentally-friendly setting with important leaders from the eco-Jewish
movement, the world of Jewish education and beyond.
Presenters at CAJE 33 include Dennis Ross, Arthur Waskow, Ellen Bernstein,
Nigel Savage, Steven M. Cohen, Jack Wertheimer, Amichai Lau-Lavie, Ed
Feinstein, Lawrence A. Hoffman, Alon Tal, Joel Grishaver, Ellen Dreskin and
As in previous years, CAJE 33 offers four days and nights of non-stop
workshops, lectures, classes, films, musical performances and other exciting
offerings from world-class presenters. Against the backdrop of
eco-awareness, participants will also have the opportunity to go on hikes,
study Earth Torah while biking, learn about celebrating Shabbat and the
holidays with an environmental awareness, dance, sing, compete in an
American Idol-like venue, learn how to create mentor-teachers, brush up on
Hebrew, observe Tisha B'Av, learn how to integrate curriculum about Israel,
attend a workshop on how ecology can engage Jews in communal life, study
mysticism and the cosmos, attend an Eco Bet Midrash and study Eco-Kashrut,
learn about their carbon footprints; bring their classroom into the 21st
century and much more.
Included at CAJE 33 is the annual Early Childhood Conference, a
much-anticipated event. This year, Lyndall Miller, coordinator of Jewish
early childhood education at Gratz College, serves as keynote speaker.
Sessions will focus on such subjects as how to utilize the Montessori model
in a Jewish early childhood setting; what's new on Shalom Sesame; how to
partner with parents and reaching out to the entire family through early
childhood education and much more.
CAJE 33 also features Evolution and Revolution - a bold, re-examination of
synagogue-based Jewish education. Though these schools educate the majority
of Jewish children in America, they have widely been deemed ineffective. Is
this assessment correct? Evolution and Revolution will explore the facts on
the ground with the help of Jewish Theological Seminary professor Jack
Wertheimer, director of the Ratner Center for the Study of Conservative
Judaism, as well as a new, eye-opening report by JESNA.
Following on the success of last year's spirited gathering at Washington
University in St. Louis, executive director Jeffrey Lasday hopes to raise
the bar even higher in Vermont.
"CAJE 33 is the ultimate expression of holistic Jewish identity," he stated.
"Jewish education is about a strong Jewish future and we are excited to
present an opportunity for educators and others to examine our relationship
to the environment through a Jewish prism."
To think, however, that Jewish eco-awareness is only about the earth and
trees, is short-sighted, added Lasday. "It is about every aspect of our
lives from the food we eat to the clothes we wear, to the schools and
synagogues we pray in. It is about viewing Jewish education as being
critical to Jewish continuity and great teachers as being critical to Jewish
Lasday further stresses the significance of Evolution and Revolution,
pointing out that between 65-70% of all children receiving a Jewish
education do so in a supplementary Jewish education setting. In other words,
250,000 children are currently being taught by approximately 25,000 teachers
in over 2,000 congregational and community school programs.
By convening PhD's, clergy, educators and experts in the field for an honest
examination of the state of congregation-based Jewish education, CAJE 33
will likely become a watershed event, leading to important reforms.
"CAJE would like to create a place and a time where practitioners, teachers,
educational directors, rabbis, lay leaders, researchers, policy makers, and
donors can all come together and reveal what we know, challenge our beliefs,
explore what we don't know and use our collective knowledge towards
transforming our schools," he said.
The Vermont gathering will also host the first ever Roundtable Fishbowl,
which brings together David Behrman, Mara Braunfeld, Steven M. Cohen, Ed
Feinstein, Lawrence Hoffman, Linda Klonsky, and Danny Zemel in a public
conversation about the current state of supplemental Jewish education, what
it should look like and how to get from here to there. CAJE participants
will have a chance to audit the conversation and contribute by sending text
messages or email to the moderator on the two consecutive afternoons of the
Building on last year's popular program on technology and education, CAJE 33
will also offer participants further instruction on bringing their
classrooms into the 21st century.
The convention also features a Consortium for the Jewish Family, which aims
to engage the entire family in the effort of Jewish education.
CAJE is the largest and most significant group representing Jewish educators
worldwide and over the past few years it has become an important destination
for a diverse group of leaders and participants in Jewish communal life.
Attending the convention are twenty-something bloggers alongside established
heads of organizations; students as well as seasoned professionals;
well-known authors and journalists; mavericks and entrepreneurs; innovators,
researchers and entertainers of a variety of ages and religious lifestyles.
College students contemplating a future in Jewish education will be in
attendance through the Schusterman College Program. College credit is
available through Boston's Hebrew College and Cleveland's Siegal College of
A multitude of offerings at CAJE 33 reflect partnerships with other Jewish
organizations, noted Lasday, adding that attendance this summer promises to
be at the highest level in the past few years. Hundreds of sessions will be
offered at the four-day gathering on a variety of timely and relevant
In addition to the formal sessions, the educators and participants will have
an opportunity to spend Tisha B'Av together. CAJE prides itself on
providing a wide tent for all Jewish educators across all settings, across
all denominations. CAJE offers a unique opportunity to participate in a wide
variety of minyanim (prayer services) across the Jewish spectrum and study
with leading scholars from the different movements. Press is invited to
attend any of the prayer services as well.
A host of collaborative programs are being offered through the Union of
Reform Judaism, including the Mitkadem Institute and the CHAI Curriculum
Training Institute. PANIM will host a National Educator's Institute for
Jewish Servicing Training and the Feinstein Center for American Jewish
History is offering a teacher-training seminar based on the Challenge and
Change: History of Jews in America multi-media curriculum project. An
innovative workshop on utilizing the curriculum for Facing History and
Ourselves: Teaching the Holocaust, will be led by Jan Darsa.
The evening programs at CAJE are legendary. After dark, participants can
attend concerts and performances by such artists as Blue Fringe, Joshua
Nelson, Sam Glaser, Craig Taubman, Yom Hadash, New House Rising and many
other exciting personalities. CAJE Rising Star, which pays homage to
American Idol, offers participants a chance to showcase their talents and
compete for star status.
Additionally, the CAJE EXPO, one of the largest Jewish malls outside of
Israel, will feature Judaic textbook and trade book publishers, software and
computer applications developers, educational institutions, Jewish
organizations and programs, and ritual and fine art craftspeople and
CAJE is the only national organization that supports front-line Jewish
educators across all denominations and all educational settings. As in years
past, the convention affirms the organization's mission to advocate on
behalf of Jewish educators, advance their skills and knowledge and increase
the resources available to them by building partnerships with local and
The 2008 Conference is organized by the Coalition for the Advancement of
Jewish Education with support from the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of
Greater Boston, UJA-Federation of Greater Toronto, the Jewish National Fund
and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. Further program support is provided by
Behrman House Publishers, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family
Foundation, the GAIA Fund, the Covenant Foundation, the Myra Reinhard
Foundation and Torah Aura Productions.
For additional information, or to schedule an interview with Jeffrey
Lasday, the executive director of CAJE, or the chair and co-chair of
CAJE 33, please contact Shira Dicker at 917.403.3989/845.238.5542 or
by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For
further information about CAJE or CAJE 33, please visit www.caje.org or www.caje33.org, from which a complete
schedule is available.