ABOUT

Our focus.

VISION — The Institute for Jewish Enrichment envisions a world in which the child’s voice is cherished as essential to the vitality of Jewish life.

MISSION — The Institute for Jewish Enrichment’s mission is to pioneer, research, and advance an educational approach in which a child’s Jewish learning is fully entwined with their growth as a compassionate, courageous, connected individual.

What we do.

The Institute is engaged in three interconnected processes designed to cultivate Jewish learning fully entwined with a child’s humanity:

FIELD SCHOOL

The Field School is our flagship school for local Jewish families. It’s a vibrant place of creativity, empathy, and deep grappling with Jewish text. Children develop their own relationship with Judaism, using the same process at age 7 that they can use throughout their lives. Our Field School is a center for research and development of education that brings children, Judaism, and our world into dynamic dialogue.

EDUCATOR DEVELOPMENT

The Institute offers introductory and intensive educator development for educational leaders and practitioners across North America. Whether you’re intrigued by our theoretical framework or inspired by our groundbreaking educator practices, our educator development affirms existing expertise while challenging prevailing notions about the child’s voice in Jewish children’s learning. Inspiring, nurturing, and provocative, our educator development raises questions about teaching and learning that transform practice.

THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

The Institute offers thought leadership in the field of Jewish Children’s Learning. In the swirl of voices crowding Jewish children’s learning, our commitment is clear: the child’s voice is essential in their learning. Our workshops, publications, and seminars offer profound questions and exquisite, nuanced insight. With an explicit framework and methodology, with tested strategies and tools, we offer new direction for the field.

I am confident that I wouldn’t feel as comfortable vocalizing my thoughts about Judaism or yearning to hear others vocalize theirs without guidance from you. I owe a lot to [IJE].
— ENRICHMENT CENTER TEEN (age 17)

What we value most.

The child – at every age – is a full person, with their own, ever-evolving worldview. The child is capable, can grapple with complexity and ambiguity, ask and discover answers to their own profound questions. Their voice is essential to their own learning, and to our ancient and ongoing Jewish conversation.

Judaism is an ancient and ongoing conversation: alive, resilient, and diverse. It is continuously shaped by the ideas and voices of people of all ages, across the globe. As Jews, each one of us chooses our own Judaism in a dynamic balance of self, world, and the Judaisms that came before us. Every voice matters, yours and mine; we are interconnected.

Yetzirah – from the Hebrew root “yatzar,” meaning to form or to create – is the heart of dynamic Jewish living. Creative process is a practice of deep listening to self and others as we nurture something new into existence. It’s joyful! It’s challenging! It is an ongoing, iterative conversation that empowers every voice to bring ideas to life in their own way.

We partner with one another to grow as compassionate, connected humans. Partnership begins with the stance that we are all doing the best we can with what we know right now. It also holds the unwavering belief that I, and you, and we, can do better; that our purpose, as individuals and as a society, is to manifest dignity for every living being across our globe.

When we make our values visible in every moment – with every object, every word, every person – we ignite a virtuous cycle. As the child feels and hears the language of being treated as a full human; as the child experiences the power of their voice to impact their world; then Judaism lives as a strength for realizing our human potential; and the child grows in skill, confidence, and drive to enact dignity for all.

13 years of extraordinary
Jewish enrichment.

Sept., 2011

Opening Day!

After 18 months of community organizing, painting walls, and sourcing furniture and funding, we opened a new chapter in Jewish children’s learning . Our school was founded on a vision of recognizing both Judaism AND children’s thoughts, questions, and ideas as integral to Jewish children’s learning. Diverse backgrounds and experiences were more than treasured; they were vital to our education. By the close of our first year, 27 children, ages 3 - 7, were enrolled.

Dec., 2012

First Full Project Process

In the fall of 2012, children completed their first full-scale Signature Project Process, with our first-ever Family Exploration & Celebration. Our floor-to-ceiling installation held children’s life-altering insights, born through their creative wrestling with Torah and their own burning questions. Parents, grandparents, community members, and children packed the room to learn Torah through children’s projects, sparking collective reimagining of what children are capable of and what Judaism holds for us.

2014 - 2019

The Growth Years

As enrollment grew steadily, educators, academics, and funders all recognized both our framework (Three Voices in Perpetual Dialogue) and our methodology (the Signature Project Process) as transformative in Jewish children’s learning. Rabbi Rebecca Milder was hired by Jewish communities for multi-year engagements as those organizations launched their own schools designed through our approach. Meanwhile, our school grew into a 5-day/week program, infants and toddlers through high school teens.

2020 - 2023

Pandemic Possibilities

Our educational approach, with its fusing of Jewish learning with children’s burning questions about themselves and life, let children and families process and make sense of their world. Our clear, strong, guiding vision and values easily moved to a new, online context. With travel on hold, with space to think, leadership set the stage for organizational expansion. It was time to bring our exceptional educational approach into full view to transform the field of Jewish Children’s Learning.

2023 - 2024

Our B-Mitzvah 13th year!

To mark this milestone, we’re spending a year learning, reflecting, and celebrating with the many people, younger and older, whose ideas, questions, and energy have brought us to this day. Our thick, richly textured educational process has changed the course of so many lives. We’ve launched a special project to document extraordinary moments from our first 13 years, which will lay the foundation for our organization’s thought leadership and educator development for years to come.

Meet our team.

These are the folks who make it all come alive. Educators committed to listening closely to children. Administrators dedicated to steady, organized systems. Lay leaders devoted to mission and vision. All in to shift the field of Jewish Children’s Learning.

LOOKING FOR WAYS TO CONTRIBUTE?

Help advance the field of Jewish Children’s Learning.