Helping Educators Educate
Peace of Mind Program, Miami
The Peace of Mind Program was initiated by Targum Shlishi and implemented by the Shul of Bal Harbour. It has met with great success and is now being promoted across the US and Canada in an effort to encourage other communities to implement similar programs. This unique free-loan program for educators exists to provide some measure of financial relief to teachers and operates on a no-questions-asked policy. The program provides funds to teachers in Jewish day schools of all denominations. To date, funds have been used for purposes ranging from summer camp to emergency medical treatment to down payments on cars. In the program’s first three years, 38 loans have been provided to teachers from 11 different schools. There are no interest charges associated with these loans. “There are times when, financially speaking, situations can become quite difficult on a teacher’s salary,” wrote a teacher at Miami’s Hebrew Academy who received a loan through the program. “Such an occasion arose for my family. I was able to borrow…$4,000, and this helped us out tremendously.” “This is not a new concept in Judaism—it is part of the Jewish tradition,” explained Miriam Gitman, special projects coordinator for the Shul of Bal Harbour. However, the program is unique in the area in its focus on helping educators in Jewish day schools and in its no-questions-asked policy. Many of the communities that have received information on the Peace of Mind program have responded with interest. “We have been receiving phone calls from different parts of the country,” Gitman said. “People are talking about it.”
The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora of Bar-Ilan University, Principals’ Seminar, Ramat Gan, Israel
The mission of the Lookstein Center is to improve the quality of education in Jewish day schools by improving the quality of their leadership. In 1999, the Lookstein Center established a series of professional development programs targeted specifically to principals of Jewish day schools, who face unique challenges in the workplace. The Principals’ Seminar programs have attracted principals from all over the world to summer seminars in Israel and follow-up mid-winter regional conferences.
Targum Shlishi has provided funding for several years to allow principals from South Florida day schools of different denominations (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Lubavitch) to attend the summer seminars. Topics covered in the seminars include leadership, supervision of instruction, the dynamics of change, the use of technology in Jewish education, team building, and more. The Principals’ Seminar exposes principals to the latest theories, to experts in the field, and perhaps most importantly, to each other. Principals are encouraged to build community and to share experience—objectives the Lookstein Center promotes with its continuing education approach to the Principals’ Seminar, which incorporates e-mail discussion groups, follow-up mid-winter and summer sessions, and the development of regional associations of Principals’ Seminar graduates.
Many Principals’ Seminar graduates have reported that the knowledge and skills
they gained through the program had a significant impact on the ways they approach their jobs, including their personal leadership styles, their interactions with staff, and their strategic planning. “I…found this program to be an extremely enriching professional experience,” wrote Michelle Schneck, an assistant principal at the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, Md. “It provided me with a good balance of the theoretical and the practical, with training in leadership skills as well as updates on educational issues and interesting approaches from various academic disciplines. It also helped establish excellent networking opportunities.”
Principals’ Seminar Mid-Winter Conference, Miami Beach
The Lookstein Center’s Principals’ Seminar Mid-Winter Conference is an extension of the Lookstein Center’s Principals’ Seminar described above. The goal of both programs is to promote professional development for principals of Jewish day schools. The Mid-Winter Conference is offered to principals who have attended the summer seminar; it reinforces the community and sense of purpose fostered during the summer session.
Central Agency for Jewish Education, CAJE 100 Supporter, Miami
From early childhood programs to adult education opportunities, such as courses and an annual film festival, the Central Agency for Jewish Education (CAJE) is dedicated to improving the quality of Jewish education in order to create a knowledgeable community of Jews with an appreciation of Jewish heritage. CAJE works with individuals and organizations—including day schools, synagogues, and community agencies—to support the development, implementation, and coordination of Jewish education programs. It is currently concentrating its efforts on teacher training, expanding its services, and creating a distance learning program. Targum Shlishi has donated funding for general support of CAJE’s initiatives.
New Voices, Jewish Student Press Services
New Voices is a national literary publication written by and for Jewish college students. The monthly publication, established in 1991, has a readership of almost 10,000 on more than 300 campuses across North America. New Voices publishes a wide range of stories that cover student life and issues in the Jewish community from a progressive, pluralistic viewpoint. Targum Shlishi supported the redesign of the print publication several years ago and funded the establishment of its website in 2002.
Machon Ahavat Emet, Jerusalem
The Jerusalem-based organization Machon Ahavat Emet (Institute of Lovers of Truth) develops and implements curricula to sensitize people to ethical behavior in daily and business life. Run by Rabbi Naftali Weinberg, the organization provides weekly training for teachers at Orthodox institutions. Targum Shlishi provided both general funding and support for the organization’s newsletters.
The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora of Bar-Ilan University, Virtual Resource Center
Targum Shlishi provided initial support for the development of the Lookstein Center’s website. The Center, which is dedicated to the advancement of Jewish education worldwide, has created an extensive website that is a valuable resource for teachers and administrators in Jewish day schools.
Among the primary educational challenges for Jewish day schools is to unite curricula of Jewish and secular education with current educational theories and techniques. The Lookstein Center helps communities throughout the world to meet today’s challenges.
The website is an online resource from which educators can access educational material and ideas. It is also an online community and as such, it promotes interaction and information exchange between educational professionals. The Lookstein Center’s objective is for the website to have a global impact. In addition to providing material on the Lookstein Center and its programs, the website offers important interactive features. These include a resource library, a forum for educators, and an electronic bulletin board.
J.J. Greenberg Memorial Lecture Series for Educators, Central Agency for Jewish Education and Ohel, Miami
Targum Shlishi established this lecture series with both short- and long-term objectives in mind. Short-term goals included providing training for educators—teachers, principals, and administrators—so that they will continue to grow, to improve, and to sharpen their skills. The short-term goal of strengthening Miami’s Jewish education providers fed directly into the long-term goal of helping Miami become a model for Jewish education. Part of the lecture series focused on the problem of sexual abuse in children; workshops instructed educators on warning signs of childhood sexual abuse with the goal of helping curtail this problem in the Miami community. These workshops were conducted by Ohel, a New York-based organization with expertise in this field.
Miami’s Central Agency for Jewish Education joined Ohel in administering the lecture series. The series honored the memory of Jonathan Joseph (J.J.) Greenberg, the son of Rabbi Irving (Yitz) and Blu Greenberg. J.J. was tragically killed in a traffic accident in Israel in September 2002. Targum Shlishi intends to support this program in other Jewish communities after the data for the initial program has been analyzed and the program deemed successful.
Community Lecture Series, Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center
and other venues, Miami
Targum Shlishi is dedicated to bringing prominent and visionary lecturers, authors, and educators to South Florida for thought-provoking presentations. These events, held primarily at the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center, have attracted large audiences and promoted much discussion.
Lecturers have included rabbi and author Harold Kushner, renowned for his international best seller, When Bad Things Happen to Good People. He lectured on the topic, “Three Jewish Messages for the Millennium.” Dr. Efraim Zuroff—investigator of suspected Nazi war criminals, Holocaust scholar, and director of the Israel Office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center—has lectured twice in recent years, once on the subject “Murderers Among Us: Should the Hunt Continue?” and most recently on the response of American Orthodox rabbis to the Holocaust (this lecture was in conjunction with the Shul of Bal Harbour, where “Should the Hunt Continue?”). Blu Greenberg, co-founder and first president of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, spoke on “One Jewish Feminist’s Perspective for the 21st Century.”
A series of themed lectures delivered in the winter and spring of 2002 explored the subject of spirituality and meaning in daily Jewish life. Titled The Divine Within, the series began with a talk by Rabbi Alan Lew, author of One God Clapping and a leader in the Jewish meditation movement. Other speakers included Rabbi Michael Comins, who spoke on “Finding God in Nature,” Rabbi Mitchell Chefitz on “Partnering with the Divine through Kabbalah,” and Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz on “ Does the Soul Survive?”
Restoring the Aleph, essay and study guide
Written by historian and theologian Arthur Green,Restoring the Aleph: Judaism for the Contemporary Seeker raises provocative questions about how our community and theology might respond to the spiritual quests of Jews in our times. Targum Shlishi initiated publication of the accompanying study guide, designed for those interested in grappling with issues of spirituality.
“If you were born a Jew, or if you are drawn to Judaism, perhaps it is not just by chance,” Green wrote. “Perhaps what the human future needs of you is your reading of, your encounter with, this great portion of our shared spiritual legacy. You can raise up sparks that belong to your soul alone, reveal worlds that can be found by no other.” The works were published by the Council for Initiatives in Jewish Education. Targum Shlishi funded their distribution to 2,000 synagogues, rabbis, and Hillel directors. Those recipients were then offered up to 15 free copies to share with congregants or students.
The response to this initiative was extremely positive, with many requests for copies. “Outstanding essay. Thank you for making it available,” wrote Rabbi Sid Schwarz of Rockville, Md. “A marvelous adult education course,” Rabbi Howard Simon of Knoxville, Tenn., reported. “Very provocative…used during Friday evening sermon—reaction very enthusiastic,” wrote Rabbi Daniel Friedman of Deerfield, Ill.
National Jewish Outreach Program (NJOP), general support, New York City
Targum Shlishi provided general support to the National Jewish Outreach Program (NJOP), an organization dedicated to establishing bonds with unaffiliated Jews. Established in 1987 to address the issues of Jewish assimilation and intermarriage, NJOP offers Jewish educational experiences that are positive and joyful. NJOP programs are offered at more than 3,500 locations in North America and in 27 countries around the world. Among its offerings are free courses in Hebrew Reading and Basic Judaism and the popular program, “Turn Friday Night Into Shabbat.” NJOP also sponsors advertising campaigns geared at raising Jewish consciousness.
Spark: Partnership for Service, website, Baltimore
Spark is a new national Jewish non-profit organization whose objective is to inspire an ongoing commitment to service as part of each person’s life, and as an expression of Jewish identity. To this end, Spark works with other organizations to encourage volunteering. Spark also provides training, workshops, and learning materials with an emphasis on the connections between service, reflection, and advocacy. Spark encourages a range of intergenerational programming designed to support the elderly and the ill. The organization was incubated at the Jewish Life Network, under the leadership of Rabbi Irving (Yitz) Greenberg. Targum Shlishi helped support the development of Spark’s website.
Visiting Lecture Tour, American Friends of Cambridge University,
New York City and Miami
Prominent scholars from Cambridge University’s Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection traveled to the US and presented lectures on this remarkable collection of Hebrew manuscript material and Judaica. Speakers included Dr. Stefan Reif, director of the Genizah Collection. Research at the library has led to significant discoveries about Jewish religion and culture from as early as the ninth century. Targum Shlishi helped to fund this lecture tour.
Gesher Educational Affiliates, Jerusalem
Gesher means “bridge” in Hebrew, which describes the goal of Gesher Educational Affiliates: to bridge the gap between religious and secular Jews and between the right and left, to promote a society in which being Jewish forms the bond that unites, not the wall that divides. “Our mission is to encourage dialogue,” said Dr. Daniel Tropper, director of Gesher. “One way of doing that is by educational programs.”
Among Gesher’s educational initiatives is the groundbreaking Gesher Multimedia Bible Curriculum Series, which is transforming the study of the Bible in Israeli classrooms. Targum Shlishi helped fund the production of an English-language version of Gesher’s educational CD-ROM, “The Ten Commandments,” which is part of the series.
The impetus for creating a multimedia Bible curriculum was to help educators develop new and challenging ways to teach the subject. With the CD-ROM, students do not merely read the primary text; they can download maps of historic locations, hear audio of texts read in different languages accompanied by music of different styles, and read commentaries. The series was introduced to Israeli junior high schools beginning in 1997 and has had impressive results, which include dramatically enhancing students’ comprehension and appreciation of Biblical texts.
Berlin Lecture Series, Hagalil Online, Berlin
Targum Shlishi funded a series of well-attended lectures in Berlin organized in conjunction with Hagalil Online, the only German-language website on Judaism. The lectures explored Nazi war crimes as well as the contemporary presence of Nazis on the internet. Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, delivered a lecture entitled, “War Crimes in Our Century.” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate director of the Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, spoke on the subject of combating Nazis on the internet.
Chabad House, Torah Donation, Dharamsala, India
Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama fled in 1959 and still lives, is located in the Himalayan mountains in northern India. Today Dharamsala is the center of Tibetan Buddhism and a destination for those who want to learn more about Buddhism. Each year many Jews, primarily Israelis, travel to Dharamsala, most of them seeking spiritual guidance. In March of 2000 a Chabad House was established in Dharamsala to offer a welcoming place for Jews to learn about the Jewish tradition. “Some Jews live here for many years, dedicating their lives to other spiritual systems, without knowing anything about Judaism,” said Rabbi Dror Moshe Shaul, manager of the Chabad House in Dharamsala. The Chabad House has become the center of a vibrant Jewish community—there are often as many as 300 guests for Shabbat and more than 800 for Rosh Hashanah services. The Chabad House also offers several educational classes and activities. Until now the community has not owned a Torah, and has borrowed one when needed. Targum Shlishi partnered with another organization to donate a Torah to the community. “A Torah in this place is very important,” Rabbi Shaul said. “Many have told us that looking at the holy letters of the Torah they felt, for the first time, something opening inside them.”
Judaism: Philosophy & Practice, Croatia
Rabbi Kotel Da-Don, L.L.B., is the first chief rabbi of Croatia since the Holocaust. Appointed to this position in 1998, he found that the country’s 3,000 remaining Jews have great enthusiasm for and eagerness to learn about their traditions. However, his attempts to foster Jewish education have been severely hampered by a lack of materials available in the Croatian language. Since the time of the Holocaust, there has been no Jewish educational literature published in Croatian.
To remedy the situation, he began work on Judaism: Philosophy & Practice, a comprehensive book about Jewish issues. “One of my primary duties is to give some basic information and instructions for everyday life to my congregation in their spoken language,” he said. The book covers topics such as the Jewish home, Jewish law, and the Jewish circle of life. In addition to its function as a guide for everyday Jewish life, it is also a reference source on Jewish thought and philosophy. Targum Shlishi’s support has funded the forthcoming publication and distribution of the book, scheduled for 2002, including preparation, translation, and printing.
“The importance of this book is simply enormous,” noted Rabbi Da-Don. “It is intended not only for the Jews of Croatia but for all Jews from the rest of what was formerly Yugoslavia, who speak nearly the same language.” Rabbi Da-Don also hopes the book will serve as a source of information for Christians, Moslems, and theology students and that it will foster open dialogue between the area’s different religious movements.
The Sussex Area Jewish-Christian Dialogue, Sparta, New Jersey
In Sparta, New Jersey, a community with very few Jewish residents, Targum Shlishi partnered with Reverend Daniel Murphy, pastor of Blessed Kateri Parish, to initiate a series of programs to foster Jewish-Christian dialogue. The initiative, which began in 1993 and continues today, had three goals at its inception: to establish educational projects that would help Christians to better understand and respect their religion’s roots in Judaism; to create a model of Jewish-Christian interaction to be shared with other churches and groups; and to create a Holocaust memorial on the church grounds.
These goals have led to the creation of innovative programming that has met with impressive results. “We…fostered harmony and understanding and helped both Christians and Jews deepen their own faith,” said Reverend Murphy. Many participants reported that the activities and ensuing discussions changed the perceptions of both the Holocaust and Judaism for hundreds of the area’s Christian citizens. The initiative has proven so enduring that groups from the parish have repeatedly visited the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. There are several programs that Blessed Kateri Parish now holds on a regular basis. Each year, the parish hosts an ecumenical Holocaust service in November and invites guest speakers—usually Holocaust survivors. In addition, the local rabbi has addressed the parish community on several occasions. Blessed Kateri has also presented programs on preaching about Jews and Judaism to local clergy in the area. The parish has a model Seder each year at Passover, for which a local synagogue hosts the church’s fifth-grade students. There are two Jewish-Christian forums annually that explore various topics, including prayer, medical ethics, and ritual. The church also erected a wall plaque in its outdoor garden commemorating righteous gentiles who helped individual Jewish victims during the Holocaust. “Death shall be forever destroyed,” words from Isaiah, are inscribed on the plaque.
Most of the programs described above have been aired on local television channels. Targum Shlishi has provided seed funding for the parish to produce a video treatment based on this documentation, with the goal of distributing it to other churches to encourage them to establish similar programs.
“Had our great-grandparents supported programs like this in Berlin, Warsaw,
Rome, and Brussels, perhaps there would have been more Christians who spoke out 60 years ago,” said Aryeh Rubin of Targum Shlishi.
Handbook of Jewish Thought, translation into Serbo-Croatian, Belgrade
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s Handbook of Jewish Thought is a comprehensive work that clearly explains traditional Jewish practices, principles, and ideas. Targum Shlishi funded the translation of this work into Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade under the aegis of the Chief Rabbi of Serbia, Rabbi Isak Asiel. The text will serve as a valuable resource for the small community of Jews in Serbia, many of whom have little knowledge of the Jewish tradition. There is currently a marked lack of Jewish educational materials available in Serbo-Croatian; this text helps address a pressing need.
Edah, general support and communications initiative, New York
Edah is an organization dedicated to strengthening the modern Orthodox community from both within and without by promoting the movement and directly addressing the challenges posed by modernity. “Orthodoxy has, in a sense, been engaged in a struggle with modernity and with the question of whether its primary response should be withdrawal or engagement,” explained Rabbi Saul Berman, Edah’s director. “It’s Edah’s position that open engagement in society is our goal.” Targum Shlishi’s Aryeh Rubin was one of Edah’s founding partners.
Since 1997, Edah has sponsored several conferences in the US and Israel. On the occasion of Joseph Lieberman’s bid for the vice presidency of the US, Edah undertook a communications initiative, which Targum Shlishi helped fund, with the goal of addressing the profound lack of understanding of Judaism, and especially of Orthodox Judaism, that exists in the media and in US society. “Our aim was to convey the perspective of modern Orthodoxy to the media,” said Rabbi Berman. “We wanted to convey that there is an Orthodoxy within Judaism that is open to the world, respects democratic values, and remains true to its traditions.” The campaign, which ran for several months, employed direct mail, editorials, and communications with the media to foster understanding. The upshot? According to Rabbi Berman, “We believe we created a more accurate sense of Judaism and of the role of Judaism in political life. Targum Shlishi’s funding has helped further the consciousness that there is an Orthodoxy in the US that is open and engaged.”
Jewish Investigative Journalism Fund, New York City
The goal of the Jewish Investigative Journalism Fund is to provide American Jewish newspapers with investigative reporting on vital issues that would not otherwise be covered in depth, primarily owing to the expense. The initiative was established in 2000 with the intention of producing several articles each year. The first piece the fund supported was an analysis of media coverage of the intifada, written by David Margolis, an award-winning journalist based in Israel, which was published by more than 20 American Jewish newspapers in the spring of 2001. “The fund provides hundreds of thousands of American Jews with vital information they may not otherwise have,” explained Gary Rosenblatt, chair of the fund.
The Shul of Bal Harbour, Spanish Edition of Bulletin, Miami
Targum Shlishi supports both the print and online publications of the Spanish language version of the weekly bulletin for The Shul of Bal Harbour. The Shul is a unique synagogue with a varied membership that includes experienced congregants, Jews who are returning to or learning about their roots, and an active Sephardic component. Targum Shlishi contributes to the Spanish edition of the bulletin in order to better serve the Spanish-speaking members of the congregation.
Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School, outreach program, New York City
Targum Shlishi has supported the innovative Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School in New York City for a number of years. Much of the foundation’s donations were predicated on Heschel establishing an outreach program to teach educators and administrators in other schools about its approach to both Jewish and secular education. The school recently established this outreach program and is now sharing its knowledge and educational philosophy with other schools. The Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School is known for its creativity, the enthusiasm of its teachers, and the high caliber of its students.
Lehrman Community Day School, various programs, Miami Beach
Support of this Jewish day school included helping to fund the purchase of both a Torah scroll and computer software as well as establishing a needs-based matching scholarship fund for selected students. Targum Shlishi also contributed to a discretionary fund for the school’s principal.
Hillel Community Day School, various programs, Miami
Targum Shlishi has supported several initiatives at Miami’s Hillel Community Day School over the past several years. In 1996, Targum Shlishi funded a professional development program in which four Hillel administrators traveled to New York City to observe Jewish day schools there. The program’s objective was to stimulate thinking about the different techniques of Jewish education. For another project, the foundation donated funds to a fourth-grade English literacy effort, allowing for the purchase of books. In 1997, Targum Shlishi funded a workshop on Hebrew prayer for teachers and students, led by Dr. Saul Wachs of Gratz College. A study and report on Hillel’s methods of Bible instruction, conducted by the Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora, was funded in 1997.
Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Pardes Israel Incentive Program for North American Jewish Educators, Jerusalem, Israel
The Pardes Institute offers a creative curriculum based on classical Jewish texts to adults from all backgrounds and all levels of religious observance. It adheres to the model of yeshiva learning, but it emphasizes co-education—it was among the first institutions to offer women immersion in the classic method of Talmud study as well as the first to put women on the Talmud faculty. Length of study time at Pardes varies widely, ranging from a week to several semesters.
Funding from Targum Shlishi was applied to retooling Pardes’ Summer Program, an intensive experience in which educators from all over North America were brought to Israel for a mini-Pardes experience that included classes, trips, and the creation of a dynamic community feeling.
“The summer program provided an authenticated Jewish experience for these educators in Israel,” noted Pardes’ administration. “Targum Shlishi’s trust was helpful in giving us the confidence to approach other organizations to leverage seed gifts, and it gave us credibility with those organizations.”
Beit Rabban Day School, New York City
Targum Shlishi has provided general support for Beit Rabban, a Jewish day school for kindergarten through grade five. Beit Rabban’s philosophy of education places an unusual degree of emphasis on independent thinking. In return for funding from Targum Shlishi, the school was asked to share its approach and curriculum with several Miami Jewish day schools.
Miami-Dade Scholarship Initiative, tuition for students, Miami
Targum Shlishi provides assistance to help with tuition for a small number of elementary school students at Jewish day schools in Miami. This assistance is given anonymously and is intended to help individual students in need and to serve as an example to the community. To date, the foundation has funded scholarships for students at Lehrman Community Day School in Miami Beach and at Hillel Community Day School in North Miami Beach.
Landow School and Hebrew Academy, curriculum evaluations, Miami
The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora conducted curriculum evaluations of two Jewish day schools in Miami. Targum Shlishi helped to fund these studies.
The Academy for Jewish Religion, general support, New York City
The Academy for Jewish Religion is an innovative institution dedicated to providing a pluralistic, inclusive education. The Academy prepares men and women to be rabbis and cantors and boasts a remarkably diverse population, with students from all denominations of modern Judaism, most of whom attend the school after successful careers in other fields. “Our student body includes educators, writers, therapists, performers, business people, a surgeon, a professor of classical musical composition, and even a professor of Talmud at another seminary,” said Rabbi David Greenstein, president of the Academy.
Targum Shlishi’s support helped enable the Academy to promote the pluralistic nature of the school. In addition, Targum Shlishi’s funding helped the Academy publish a volume of essays, See the Voices, collecting the work of scholars at the school as well as other experts.