Design Thinking Takes Center Stage as 100 Educators Reimagine Judaic Education in Jewish Day Schools

Boston, MA (May 18, 2017) – Jewish Education Innovation Challenge (JEIC) convened nearly 100 Jewish educators and community leaders from across North America to participate in its 5th annual Innovators Retreat – Oases of Change – at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

The JEIC Innovators Retreat showcased 11 revolutionary ideas in Jewish day school education and opened them up for feedback from top educators, funders and social entrepreneurs in the field. These new models, seven brand new and four already being tested, were designed by grantees of the JEICs Day School Educators’ Challenge and the ten designers currently participating in HaKaveret: JEIC Team Challenge.

2017 grantees of the JEIC Educators’ Challenge include the Fuchs Mizrachi School in Beachwood, OH as well as Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School in Chicago, IL. Each school received a $50,000 grant to pilot test their model in their schools over a two-year period.

Fuchs-Mizrachi presented Lilmod U’l’lameid: Teacher Torah Collaboratory which creates a Professional Learning Community that personalizes and deepens professional development.

Akiba-Schechter presented their design of an integrated Jewish Day School Research & Development Department inspired by the work of a successful educational model from The American School of Bombay. Based on concrete, deliberate, evidence-based, collaborative activities, Akiba-Schechter’s initiative has the potential to infuse schools with a spirit of ongoing improvement and experimentation.

JEIC’s HaKaveret Design Team shared five new models in Jewish education. A joint venture of the Mayberg Foundation, the Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah, and Arnee R. and Walter A. Winshall, HaKaveret brought together ten stellar Jewish educators to develop innovative and engaging new models.

“The Jewish wisdom in this room will provide the creativity and innovative response to our education challenges,” said JEIC Founder and Mayberg Foundation Trustee Manette Mayberg. “It remains my belief that the first hurdle to jump in this race is to establish for ourselves an independence of thinking about how we educate Jewishly that is founded on Jewish ideals.”

The Innovators Retreat included breakout sessions where attendees had the opportunity to critique the models presented by both the 2017 grantees and the HaKaveret Design Team. Grantees from previous years gave progress updates on their experimental models in the form of simulated classroom experiences.

“The educational prototypes created by this dedicated group will empower students to embrace Jewish learning as a relevant guide for meaningful living in the 21st Century,” explained Rabbi Shmuel Feld, Founding Director of JEIC. “We plan to test these models in existing schools, and the successful plans will be adapted, improved and shared with the Jewish educational community.”

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