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  • 26 Oct 2020 by Fern Katz

    Dear Friends,

    We are being heard and we are having an impact!

    ECE-RJ members are making a difference.  Lisa Samick, First Vice President of ECE-RJ, and I were honored to participate in the planning and implementation of the URJ webinar “Navigating the Unknown: How Congregations with Early Childhood Centers Must Collaborate for a Sustainable Future.” 

    The webinar was attended by about 400 lay and professional leaders that included senior rabbis, executive directors, board presidents, and many of our ECE-RJ Director members.

     If you participated, I hope you will agree with me that it was meaningful and just might make a difference for some of our centers and for our field.

    In small groups and with guests from across the Reform movement, many challenges of early childhood Jewish education were discussed including budget impact, the additional requirements of operating an in-person center in the midst of a global pandemic, and the time and emotional strain we and our teachers face every single day. It was a thought provoking 90 minutes, very well spent.

    The highlights for me were when Rabbi Rick Jacobs spoke about our centers and programs as the “beating heart” of the congregation and Rabbi David Stern, immediate past president of CCAR, spoke about how we are all responsible for “all of it,” meaning all leadership is responsible for the budget and the needs and value of early childhood Jewish education.

     The outcome of the webinar was the creation of an accelerated network supported and facilitated by the URJ. It is my hope that many ECE-RJ members and their congregational leadership teams will participate in this network and work together towards finding solutions for shared problems and concerns related to the current challenges facing our field.

    I really believe we were heard, and our work is valued. Become involved in ECE-RJ and help us keep it going!


  • 26 Oct 2020 by Tricia Ginis

    It is easy to take something you have done repeatedly for granted. For example, planning a staff meeting, providing professional development opportunities for teachers, or connecting families with congregational leadership. It does not take much each time you do it. Maybe a few tweaks here or there, but that is it. We almost never reinvent the wheel when it comes to such tasks.

    This year is different. Every interaction, every activity, every step along the way has been uncharted territory. We are reinventing everything from welcoming families into the temple community to coordinating drop-off and pick-up.  The way directors have had to work to engage and connect their staff in a virtual world, and how teachers have adapted to a new normal either in the classroom or in a virtual learning situation, is incredible.

    There are no blueprints or instructions to refer to when needed. We are relying on each other to share what works and what doesn’t. ECE-RJ continues to play a vital role in figuring it all out.

    We have worked to provide resources and support for members through:

    • Publishing a monthly newsletter chock-full of ideas and information. 
    • Producing the annual conference
    • Holding bi-weekly virtual professional development opportunities for teachers and directors, featuring the top experts in related fields
    • Engaging in advocacy efforts to raise the pay and benefits of people in our field
    • Providing online forums to network, share information, and ideas
    • Providing consultative services for congregations going through a leadership staffing search and those needing guidance and support with their early childhood center. This includes re-evaluating a program, staffing, curriculum, COVID-19 processes & procedures.
    • Hosting a national job board

    ECE-RJ continues to be committed to building vibrant, contemporary, and inclusive educational communities whether we are in a pandemic or not. Our membership works to bring people together in our institutions and to ensure the radiant and sustainable future of Jewish Early Childhood Education. Please feel free to reach out for more information about what ECE-RJ has to offer and let us know how we can support the early childhood professionals in your congregation.