January 2017 The ECE-RJ Experience

Educational Moment

Gun Play in Early Childhood - Tammy Kaiser, MSJE

When I hid in my office building at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle as a gunman shot my colleagues one by one, the sound and smell of gunfire was etched into my brain. To further the trauma pathway, when I visited the Federation building after the shooting and saw the outline of one of the weapons the shooter used drawn in marker next to the fax machine, I added a visual trauma to my already growing hatred of guns. So, it is no surprise that, as a school director, I am very sensitive to gun-play among children. The surprising thing, I suppose, is the way I respond. 


Tammy Kaiser, MSJE, is the Director of the Early Childhood Learning Center at Temple Beit HaYam in Stuart, Florida. Kaiser survived a shooting at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle in 2006 and is the author of Diameter of the Bullet and Miss Tammy’s Children’s Haggadah. Tammy Kaiser is a great resource for more information about this crucial Social Action/Justice topic. 

Learning Together

ECE-RJ Conference in Chicago

March 1-4, 2017


There's still time to register for the 2017 ECE-RJ conference in Chicago. Click this  LINK to register.


ECE-RJ has additional scholarship money available to members. Please click on this link to complete an application. Applications will be reviewed by the Scholarship Committee and held in confidence. Decisions will be made and applicants will be notified as applications are received.

Virtual Ads

Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism is gathering for our annual conference in Chicago March 1-4. We expect more than 350 early childhood educators from across the United States to attend as we learn together. The theme of this year’s conference is ChicaGO! Advancing Early Childhood Education in the 21st Century.

We are creating a Virtual Ad Journal to honor Early Childhood Professionals and the sacred work they do. This Virtual Ad Journal will be displayed as a slideshow during the conference, on the conference event app used by all of our attendees, and on our website after the conference through December 31, 2017.

Check out the  Virtual Ad Journal from the 2016 Boston conference for ideas!

Sample ads:

Example 1: In honor of your leadership, wisdom and passion for young children and their families. Fern Katz, Sinai Preschool Director, Chicago Sinai

Example 2: In honor of the incredible, talented & dedicated staff. You touch the lives of children everyday! Honoring the Temple Beth Avodah Nursery School Staff

Example 3: Temple Shalom is proud of your hard work & commitment to excellence in Early Childhood Education. In honor of the teaching staff with love, Temple Shalom.

Please complete this FORM by February 10, 2017

Elaine Gaidemak Tribute Ads

We are creating a Tribute Book to honor Elaine Gaidemak for her years of service and dedication to ECE-RJ. This Tribute Book will be given to all attendees at the Dessert Reception: Sweet Treats and Celebration Honoring Elaine Gaidemak on Thursday March 2, 2017. We would love to include words of praise and thanks for all of her hard work over the years. Elaine has been instrumental in lifting up the work of Early Childhood Educators for the past 17 years. Her vision and drive has brought the organization to where it is today. Please consider placing an ad in the Tribute Book in her honor.

Sample ads:

Example 1: Honoring Elaine Gaidemak for her vision and dedication to ECE-RJ. Uplifting the work of Jewish Early Childhood Education. Yasher Koach! With love from The Board of ECE-RJ.

Example 2: Thank you for helping to shape the work of ECE-RJ. Growing and developing the organization and elevating the work of Early Childhood Educators. With respect and admiration, The Past Presidents of ECE-RJ

Please submit ad by February 10, 2017 to Tricia Ginis, executivedirector@ecerj.org. Ads may be submitted in jpg format or wording sent with logo/photo for us to create.

Ad specifications:
1/4 page - ($54)
1/2 page 4"h x 5"w - ($72)
Full page 8"h x 5"w - ($180)
Inside front cover/inside back cover 8"h x 5"w - SOLD OUT
Back cover 8"h x 5"w - ($450)
*All Ads will be printed in black and white with the exception of the back cover, which will be in full color.

Conference Attendee Hangouts

Conference participants are invited to join us in February for four virtual hangouts. These conference calls will provide an opportunity for participants to meet each other before arriving in Chicago. We will present a brief overview of the Guidebook event app and answer questions about meal selection, workshops, transportation and other conference-related questions. Please RSVP for one of the following February dates by emailing LSamick@templeisraelnyc.org with your name and preferred dates. You will receive a Zoom conference call link.

Tuesday, February 7th @ 11am (EST)

Monday, February 13th @ 4:30pm (EST)

Wednesday, February 15th @ 10am (EST)

Thursday, February 23rd @ 4pm (EST)

January Meet Up Call

January 23, 2017

Talking About Our Unmentionables

Host: Susie Wexler

Host Susie Wexler is the Director of the Early Childhood Program at the Chava Center. She brings a background in social work, Jewish community work and early childhood education to BJBE.  She is a lifelong learner who brings a passion for research and Jewish exploration to young children, and families and staff.  A consummate educator, she has presented locally and nationally on best practices in early childhood education.  Susie is committed to engaging young families with support and nurturance through developmentally appropriate Jewish education experiences.


If attending the January call, kindly suggest a question, awkward situation or uncomfortable circumstance that might be a helpful discussion point. Unmentionables are topics that are sensitive in nature.  So…an example could be…”I am not getting along with a board member….” Topic suggestions can submitted as soon as possible to Dale Laing at  dlaing@bethor.org. She will forward them to Susie Wexler.

February Meet Up Call

February 9, 2017

Innovative Israel and STEAM Program for Jewish Preschools

Host: Jessica Yaira Gordon

Join us as Jessica Yaira Gordon explains an innovative opportunity for Jewish preschools to explore STEAM careers and Israel.

Do your students like to tinker, build, and explore? Looking for a new, innovative way to teach about Israel?

This webinar will introduce a new program for Jewish preschools, called Discovering Israel through STEAM Careers (DISC). DISC is a hands-on, play-based program that teaches preschoolers about STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) careers in Israel, like an engineer in Tel Aviv or a marine biologist in Eilat. DISC provides teachers with resources and tools to bring STEAM into their classrooms and share the new and exciting innovations happening in Israel. With over 30 schools across the U.S. already implementing the program, we are excited to share this new opportunity with ECE-RJ schools.

About the Creators:

Allison Bischoff and Jessica Yaira Gordon are passionate educators who are committed to bringing affordable and innovative programs and tools to Jewish preschools. We currently live in St. Louis and are excited to work with schools across the country!


Reform Pension Board Webinar

How to Use Investment Choice to Your Advantage

Our partner, the RPB invites you–and your financial advisor–to their upcoming webinar on Investment Choice. Topics include:

• RPB plan performance update

• How the plan’s managed and self-directed index funds fit into your retirement planning

• Panel discussion on the markets and the new administration’s policy agenda


Email pensionboard@rpb.org with your questions ahead of time.

Register HERE

ECE-RJ Leadership

Nominating Committee Members Needed

We are forming the 2017 Nominating Committee for ECE-RJ's Executive Board. The committee is charged with the responsibility of seeking out members of ECE-RJ that may be interested in serving on our Executive Board for positions that will be open commencing July 1, 2017. Each position is for one 2-year term.  We anticipate having one board position opening July 1, 2017.  The committee consists of:  the president, Executive Director, 2 board members, and 4 members at large. The Nominating Committee will meet approximately 4 to 6  times between February and April via Zoom (virtual conference call). The committee will interview candidates and make a proposal/recommendation to the board. Once the recommendation is made to the board, a vote will be sent out to the entire ECE-RJ membership. The vote will take place by May 15th, and the new board members will be announced by June , 2017 if not sooner. 

If you are interested in joining the committee, please click this LINK to submit your contact information.

Joint Commission on Worship, Music and Religious Living

The Joint Commission on Worship, Music and Religious Living met on Dec 11 and 12, 2016 in New York City. The ECE-RJ representatives were Sari Luck Schneider, Shira Kline and Laura Copel (via the URJ FwYC team).

With the guidance of inspirational experts - Cantor Richard Cohn (Director of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music - HUC-JIR’s Cantorial Program), Rabbi Lisa Goldstein (Executive Director of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality) and Rabbi Elie Kaufner (Executive Director of Mechon Hadar) we delved deeply into the topic “Intersection of personal spiritual life and communal spiritual life, personal prayer and communal prayer.”

We were asked to discuss with our fellow constituents how to bring the lessons learned to our respective communities. Shira suggested that we create a toolkit for preschools to help introduce worship concepts beyond blessing candles, wine and challah. We talked about other non-cognitive approaches to spirituality like the “Wondering Questions” of Michael Shire's Godly Play from Hebrew College in Boston.

Shout Outs

January Shout Out…

From Heidi Baker of Temple Beth Avodah, Newton, MA

Learning to Help Others at Our ELC

Many of the Early Learning Center moms attended the Women of TBA's "Night of Giving Back" in November. They were moved by the information The Second Step, The Boston Living Center and Birthday Wishes shared with them about their clients.  Motivated to help these individuals, the moms joined together to collect toys and assemble boxes for Birthday Wishes during the month of December.  They also wanted the students to be involved.  The ELC students were so excited to help with this project.  You can see their enthusiasm in these photos as they decorate the boxes.  


February Shout Out... Winter Outdoor Experiences

Please share with your colleagues the types of winter outdoor experiences that are happening at your school.  The grass is always greener… so let’s get some photos of children enjoying warm and cold weather! Submit blurb and photos to Amy Damast amy@templesinainj.org Submissions due February 10th!

Give us your thoughts...


Plans are coming together for what promises to be a memorable ECE-RJ Israel Experience for Early Childhood Educators in February of 2018. To help us plan,  please take just one minute to answer this ONE QUESTION survey? We've already heard from 40 people but we want to get your feedback. 

Thank you!
ECE-RJ Israel Steering Committee



Suggested ECE Books and Articles

I am no halachic scholar, but I’m pretty sure that sharing your Legos isn’t technically a mitzvah.”

- Alexis Kort

In Search of a Toddler-Friendly Mitzvah

PJ Library books that demonstrate Gemilut Chasadim – acts of loving kindness

PJ Library - Books - Kindness

Every good message deserves a song!

Derech Eretz by Judy Caplan Ginsburgh

Shalom Sesame - Tikkun Olam song