New York, NY – The Experiment in Congregational Education, a project of Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion and its Rhea Hirsch School of Education, today unveiled “The Toolbox: Resources to Experiment in Congregational Education” –consisting of 24 years’ worth of resources that have helped congregations around the country transform the educational experiences they offer to congregational learners. The resources cover a range of areas to help congregations explore, design, and ultimately implement new and innovative approaches to learning.
“More and more congregations over the last 24 years have made the big decision to change their educational experiences in deep and strategic ways,” says Rob Weinberg, Director, Experiment in Congregational Education (ECE), HUC-JIR. “The ECE has been fortunate to work with many of these congregations, and we’ve seen how different congregations approach this change process. Some go through a lengthy visioning period; others dive right in and experiment with a new model. The Toolbox offers resources for any approach to change so that any congregation and community can access and apply them.”
The Toolbox groups resources in a manner that helps to frame three questions critical to changing a congregation’s approach to education: why change; what to change; and how to change. While The Toolbox focuses heavily on this change process, it also offers resources on specific types and models of learning—from whole person learning, to numerous educational models that move learning away from the traditional classroom environment. The ECE notes that congregations often express a desire to try something new, but do not always know where to begin that process.
Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback, Senior Rabbi at Stephen S. Wise Temple in Los Angeles (formerly at Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, CA), previously utilized ECE resource and says, “Our work (at Beth Am) with ‘RE-IMAGINE’ (an ECE project) helped us tremendously to construct a process for change that resulted in something that was far more than simply “good” for our congregation – it resulted in something that was truly transformational.”
The online Toolbox includes more than 500 resources, allowing users to search by general topics, specific models, or steps in the change process.
“This Toolbox is about giving congregations tools to envision and experiment with Jewish learning so that learners of all ages find it more compelling, more alive, and more meaningful to their lives,” Weinberg adds. “We believe there is something in this Toolbox for any congregation ready to create meaningful change.”
Since 1992, the Experiment in Congregational Education has worked to strengthen congregations as critical centers of Jewish life in North America In keeping with the missions of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and its Rhea Hirsch School of Education, ECE is founded on the belief that Jewish learning is a primary pathway through which to initiate congregational transformation. We continually discover and develop new means to achieve this mission.
Check out the article at eJewishPhilanthropy for even more discussion!