A Story Behind Every Number
Tonight we mark the end of the counting of the 49 days of the Omer, the time between Passover and Shavuot. Today is also the 84th day since I last stepped into The Jewish Education Project’s office. The New York Times this past weekend informed us that over 100,000 Americans have died from Covid-19. There are over 26 million unemployed Americans. Numbers help convey enormity of events--and many of the numbers we see today are indeed staggering. But as we know, behind every number is a personal story. Indeed, my own dissertation research, “Giving Voice to a Generation,” also emphasized this credo, diving deeply into the lives of over a dozen Jewish teens who set me on my journey to discover and rediscover GenZ.
In the last three months The Jewish Education Project has conducted over 80 webinars, reaching over 5,000 educators and other leaders in Jewish education. The numbers are indeed impressive and you can view many of these offerings here. This represents the largest and most diverse group of Jewish educators the agency has reached in any 3 month period in the 100 year history of this organization. The power of technology to reach these educators is definitely part of this story. But more importantly is some of the texture and impact behind these numbers that reminds us of the capacity of good education, and great Jewish educators, to positively impact the lives of Jewish youth every single day.
"The Jewish Education Project’s professional development on using Zoom technology set us on the path to have success with teaching on this platform. My teachers were provided with tools and strategies that they could implement immediately. The webinar from Rahel Bayer helped my school engage in really meaningful conversations and develop policies that protect all our stakeholders. I am grateful to have the support of The Jewish Education Project. It has provided me with larger networks to feel connected to and individualized support."
Lauren Kaplan, Learning Center and Curriculum Coordinator
Westchester Day School, Mamaroneck, N.Y.
"Regular resource digests in my inbox, topical and timely webinars on Jewish holidays, youth professional Zoom roundtables, and continued coaching through the Congregational Leadership Journey Project has helped me do my work better. And this, in turn, has brought connectivity and strength to the teens at my synagogue. Because of COVID-19, we may not know what the next few months of Jewish education and engagement will look like, but I know The Jewish Education Project will be there to support educators and youth professionals in our sacred work."
Andrew Paull, Director of Teen Engagement
Temple Shaaray Tefila, New York City
Shavuot is a holiday where we celebrate the day when our people received the Torah on Mt. Sinai. I am also reminded of Shavuot when I lived on a kibbutz. This day was also one of festive celebration - marking the first wheat harvest for the year. Full of song and dance, the kibbutz children paraded the first of everything – fruits and vegetable from the fields, followed by animals born on the kibbutz in the last year. The procession ended with parents walking in front of the entire kibbutz with babies born over the past year.
Shavuot marks a moment in time. For educators like Lauren and Andrew, it signifies the nearing of the end of the academic year, a culmination of sorts of their role in passing down the Torah to thousands of Jewish children. This year in 2020, Shavuot is filled with challenge and adversity. May we all count our blessings, count the impact of our educators, and celebrate the many first moments that their dedication and ingenuity have created in the last few months. They continue to give voice to an entire generation.
Wishing you a meaningful Shavuot and a Chag Sameach.
David Bryfman is the CEO of The Jewish Education Project.