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October 25, 2014 | 1st Cheshvan 5775

Conference Underscores Reform Movement's Commitment to Early Childhood Education


Contact: Annette Powers
apowers@urj.org
212-650-4154


Jan. 24, 2013, New York, NY -- More than 400 early childhood educators from Reform Jewish congregations and other organizations across the United States gathered together last week in Morristown, NJ for the 13th annual Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism (ECE-RJ) conference. This year's theme was Revolutions in Early Childhood: Technology, Testing, Teaching and Torah.
 
This dynamic three-day conference offered workshops, networking and creative worship for professionals and lay leaders who are active in congregational early childhood education.
 
Two local congregations – Temple B'nai Or in Morristown and Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange – hosted the conference. Through collaboration with the Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life, the conference included 275 members of The Early Childhood Directors' Network of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, including  both Jewish and non-Jewish professionals.
 
Rabbi Daniel Cohen, senior rabbi at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, set the tone with an insightful keynote address about innovative ways to incorporate various technologies into early childhood education and worship. Rabbi Cohen uses tablets, apps and other technological innovations to help today's families embrace their faith and traditions in a modern way.
 
One highlight of the conference was the address by Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). He pledged the Reform Movement's ongoing commitment to support early childhood education and engagement of families with young children. 
 
"I was delighted to participate in this year's ECE-RJ conference," said Rabbi Jacobs. "I know the ECE educators will return to their communities with renewed enthusiasm and fresh ideas to provide exemplary Jewish education to the youngest generation and their families."
 
The URJ recently launched two "communities of practice" groups. One focuses on successfully engaging young families and the other focuses on pursuing excellence through early childhood centers. The congregations in these communities of practice will work together formally for the next 18 months to push the boundaries of existing congregational efforts, experiment in their own communities, receive peer support and guidance, learn from URJ's Faculty of Expert Practitioners, create congregational changes and garner skills that will benefit all areas of congregational life.


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The Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism (ECE-RJ) is an affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism, and sponsors these eventful conferences annually. ECE-RJ represents professionals in all fields of Jewish early childhood education, serving as a voice for educators while providing synagogue leadership with current information about the benefits of early childhood education for congregations and young families.  In addition, useful guidelines are provided for members and their extended communities about salaries, contracts, and benefits, while cultivating opportunities for lifelong learning and continuing education.


The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) is a dynamic network of congregations, institutions, lay leaders, clergy and professionals across North America that impacts the lives of millions of individuals every day. Our progressive, inclusive approach unites thousands of years of Jewish tradition and values with modern Jewish experience to strengthen Judaism today and for future generations. Through programs, information and networking opportunities provided by the URJ, our nearly 900 member congregations enhance their capacity to build and expand community, deepen Jewish learning, energize worship, pursue social justice and develop inspired leadership.

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