There are currently two networks around education and engagement:
- For information about the URJ Congregational Education network, please contact Lisa Langer, RJE.
- For information about the URJ Early Childhood Education Community network, please contact Rachel Margolis, RJE.
Previous cohorts on the topic of early childhood and youth education include:
URJ Communities of Practice
The URJ Pursuing Excellence Through Your Early Childhood Center Community of Practice brought together 10 congregations with early childhood centers, interested in significantly enhancing their efforts with early childhood engagement. It took place in January 2013-June 2014.
The URJ Successfully Engaging Families with Young Children Community of Practice brought together 10 congregations without early childhood centers, interested in starting or significantly enhancing their efforts with early childhood engagement. It took place in January 2013-June 2014.
The URJ Building a Brand with Your Early Childhood Center Community of Practice brought together 11 congregations from 2015-2017 to focus on excellence in the Early Childhood Center and on generating synergy between the school and the synagogue, inspiring and nurturing families’ lifelong Jewish journeys.
The URJ Creating Connected Communities for Families with Young Children Community of Practice brought together staff and lay leaders from eight congregations without early childhood centers from 2015-2017 to learn together about key challenges and opportunities of engaging families with young children.
The URJ Reimagining Congregational Education Community of Practice brought together 14 congregations that were ready to explore alternative and innovative approaches to congregational learning for grades K-7. It took place in 2016-2018. This CoP was offered in collaboration with ARJE master educators.
The URJ Full-Time Early Childhood Education Community of Practice brought together 13 congregations that were interested in making full-time early education a priority by either enhancing their current full-time early education program or transforming their part-time pre-school into a full-time school. It took place in 2016-2018.
The first two cohorts of the URJ Youth Professionals 101 Community of Practice brought together 70 (full-time professionals, part-time professionals, and volunteers) in the first two years of their career to learn with experts in the field, create a peer-to-peer learning group, and explore how to create meaningful and sustainable youth engagement models in their community. These cohorts took place in 2016-2017, in 2017-2018, and in 2018-2019.
The URJ B’nai Mitzvah Revolution
The URJ B'nai Mitzvah Revolution (BMR) is a network of congregational professionals, lay leaders and educational thought leaders seeking to bring renewed depth and meaning to Jewish learning.
The B’nai Mitzvah Revolution was initially launched in 2012 as a joint initiative of the URJ and the Hebrew Union College, and engaged 14 congregations in its pilot cohort, which strived to institute new methods of teaching and keep teens and their families engaged in their communities.
The success of this pilot cohort led to the launch of several additional cohorts that engaged dozens of congregations, including the URJ B’nai Mitzvah Revolution Innovators Lab and an active learning network.
Additionally, the BMR Innovators Guide highlights b’nai mitzvah innovations developed in congregations around North America that participated in any of the BMR cohorts. These innovations can be adapted and used in other congregations or communities.
Chicago Early Engagement Leadership Initiative (CEELI)
The Chicago Early Engagement Leadership Initiative (CEELI), supported by the Chicago-based Crown Family Philanthropies, launched in 2014. It engaged a cross-denominational cohort of 12 early childhood centers from legacy organizations, various synagogue movements, and independent entities. Each leadership team included lay leaders and professional staff. The URJ provided this cohort with professional expertise in marketing, business and sales development, technology, marketing, social media, branding, pediatrics and child development.
CEELI's success has led to support by an anonymous funder, in addition to the continued support provided by Crown Family Philanthropies. In 2017 CEELI hosted a series of “bootcamps” for lay and professional Jewish leaders in the Chicago community. These seminars were intended to provide leaders in the Chicago Jewish community with resources and tools to pursue excellence in a wide range of areas as they engage families with young children.
BUILDing Jewish ECE
BUILDing Jewish ECE engaged nine cross-denominational Denver and Boulder Jewish community centers and synagogues with early childhood centers between the years of 2014-2016. It was led by Rose Community Foundation, in partnership with the URJ, JCC Association, and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. The URJ provided patriciates with a mentor and a marketing specialist for two years to expand and enhance branding, marketing, enrollment conversion, customer service, and relationship building.