Project-Based, Choice-Based Learning: J-JEP: Stories of Impact

Joint Jewish Education Program of Pittsburgh
Congregation Beth Shalom and Rodef Shalom Congregation, Pittsburgh, PA

Summary | Model Elements | Stories of Impact

Not all models fit neatly into one of our major groups (or “buckets”). As new innovations emerge and new experiments are designed, we envision more models may cross-over or be outside of these buckets. In the future we will most likely identify new groupings based on the success of these models.

J-JEP could be placed in a Project-Based Learning or a Choice-Based Learning bucket.

Stories of Impact:
Adi, J-JEP Madricha

“I got to a point in my Jewish education where I wanted a break from regular classroom learning and was happy to have a new experience as a madricha at J-JEP.  Being a madricha was one of my first teaching experiences. J-JEP had a great unit of cohesive staff members, which created a very pleasant atmosphere to join. 

Although I was not a teacher, I was respected as one by all staff at J-JEP. Being a madricha made me see a different side of Jewish learning and I continued to learn about Judaism and myself. 

Observing the lessons and variety of classes the students attended, I realized it was a much better and more comprehensive curriculum and learning style than what I experienced in religious school. I truly enjoyed having music accepted as part of religious teachings and it made praying more lively and engaging. The specials and electives, in addition to the main classes, helped to maintain the kids’ attention even though three hours may seem like ages for the younger students. Overall, J-JEP creates an engaging atmosphere for Jewish learning and I am happy to have been part of such a successful program.”

Debbey, J-JEP Parent

“My son has been attending J-JEP for two years. Having two older children who attended day school, having had my son at a different religious school and having been involved in religious school education for decades myself, I have seen and experienced much in Jewish education. I have been very impressed with J-JEP for a number of reasons. 

Bringing together two congregations (of different denominations) creates unity, understanding and diversity of thought and a wider base of Jewish connections for the kids and families.

The creative programs (electives about a wide variety of religious and cultural topics, arts, cooking, music) keeps the kids interested and engaged in both sensory and intellectual ways. The innovative programming for the adults allows families to be more active in the education process both increasing knowledge and acting as good role models for Jewish education. And the best part, my son comes home saying he had a good time and enjoys telling what he has done and learned! That is what will keep him wanting to stay active in his Jewish education.”

Lydia Blank, J-JEP Parent, Rodef Shalom Member

J-JEP is an innovative, game changing effort to debunk the myth that religious school and Hebrew school is (should be) boring.

The J-JEP program not only educates my children about the importance of living a Jewish life, but also teaches them the who, what, where, how, and why they should do it too. Because this multi-synagogue-based program is open to students from all Jewish backgrounds, my children are exposed to more than any single synagogue program could provide. J-JEP celebrates how diverse our religion truly is. In addition, the use of technology and hands-on activities like cooking and crafts keeps the learning process current, fun and engaging. I am grateful that my kids are enrolled at J-JEP.”