The Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning, which operates in the greater Washington, DC community, is launching an imaginative new initiative to broaden the scope of synagogue-based education by providing students in congregational programs with opportunities to learn as well at JCCs, camps, and even day schools. You can read a story from The Forward about the initiative here.
Synagogues remain a vital resource for educating large numbers of children and families. But, it's becoming clearer that synagogues can't do everything, and that making it possible for students to experience multiple forms and settings for Jewish learning can add greatly to the synagogue-based experience. The Kehillah Partnership in Bergen County, NJ is already building an exciting collaboration among several synagogues and the Bergen County YJCC. You can see some of the fruits of that partnership in this video. Elsewhere, initiatives are underway to link synagogues with camps and with community-based activities.
The PJLL initiative aims to make the opportunity to learn in multiple settings normative for children. Being able to draw on the strengths of each setting makes it more likely that young people will connect with experiences and with people -- teachers and peers -- that are attuned to their interests and aspirations. It's a chance for a win-win, especially if, as they hope in Washington, it draws more families and children into Jewish education.
The ethos of collaboration is becoming more deeply embedded in many sectors of contemporary life, from the arts and sciences to business. The beneficiaries of Jewish education desperately need us to overcome inertia and suppress the instinct to defend our "turf" in order to develop new ways of combining the riches of multiple modes and methods.
We should all be watching what happens in Washington with great interest and hope. It may be a harbinger of a new era in Jewish education.