David Bryfman

Reacting and responding to the numbers that tell a story

At first glance, this graph, displaying the peaks and valleys of the number of educators utilizing resources and professional development opportunities on The Jewish Education Project’s recently created Jewish Educator Portal do not seem unusual. As one would expect, there are moments in time when organizational websites experience more and less traffic, and I imagine that most nonprofits experience similar variations in their outputs.

A chart

However, taking a closer look at some of these peaks begins to tell a slightly different story.

A chart with labels

And adding a few more labels tells us even more.

A chart with labels

As a data inspired agency, this data tells a profound story. I am proud to know that when crises emerge, Jewish educators trust and rely upon The Jewish Education Project to provide tools so that they can better educate their learners. Worth noting is that the Jewish Educator Portal was itself created during the pandemic crisis, funded in part by the Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund (JCRIF). In itself the portal is an incredible achievement, featuring the incredible materials from dozens of Jewish organizations, becoming the aggregated and curated marketplace for quality Jewish educational resources. But these charts also tell me that many educators come to the portal, although not at the same numbers, for resources that one would expect Jewish educators to need to teach about the High Holidays and Hannukkah.

The Jewish Education Project is able to respond when crises emerge. I imagine that many Jewish nonprofits, regardless of their output benchmarks, are able to produce similar charts, telling an overall story that the Jewish community knows how to excel in moments of dire need. 

In addition, the fact that educators keep returning to the site also tells the additional story as to the quality of the resources that we are providing for them. Our team at The Jewish Education Project not only assesses the quality of the pedagogic material that we are curating, but also vets and ensures that the resources that we provide are meaningful and relevant to the lived experiences of young people today. Having our holiday resources alongside our crisis response materials sends a clear message that Jewish education at its best is not just about preserving the past but also about responding and being relevant to the present.

The challenge in front of us, and I hazard to assume before many Jewish nonprofits, is to strive to be as successful proactively, as we have become reactively. As a community, as we emerge from the pandemic this could indeed be our greatest challenge.

David Bryfman is CEO of The Jewish Education Project.

Originally published on eJewish Philanthropy on April 28, 2022

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