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.
dynamic three-day conference offered workshops, networking and creative
worship for professionals and lay leaders who are active in
congregational early childhood education.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.