For Educational Leaders
Hebrew College’s Shoolman Graduate School of Jewish Education, in association with Combined Jewish Philanthropies, provides professional development services for the Jewish community; including specific courses and programs in the areas of special education, congregational education, early childhood education and experiential education. Whether you are new to your educational career or an experienced professional, Hebrew College provides seminars, lectures, workshops and conferences that can help you increase your knowledge, refine your expertise and advance your career.
Early Childhood Institute
Innovative Jewish Education
Leader and innovator in early childhood Jewish Education since 1987
Founding Director: Ina Regosin
Current Director: Rachel Raz, MJEd`06
Through its academic and professional development programs, the Early Childhood Institute (ECI) has trained hundreds of educators who have impacted thousands of children and their families. Since 2004, all academic programs have been available online enabling communities across the country and around the world to have access to the comprehensive professional development courses that Hebrew College has to offer.
As a pluralistic institution, ECI has students who represent all Jewish affiliations and levels of religious observance as well as those not of the Jewish faith who work in the Jewish community. In addition, in collaboration with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, the Lappin Foundation, the Gelfand Family Charitable Trust and the Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) of Boston, the ECI designs and offers educational programs tailored for specific communities.
Jewish Education Conferences
Drawing on its many years of experience as a provider of professional development for early childhood educators in the Jewish community, the annual Early Childhood Conference offers a series of professional development workshops designed to increase Judaic and pedagogic knowledge and practice. These workshop are tailored to the professional development needs of educators, clergy and professionals working with children and families (infant through Grade 2) in day schools, congregational schools, preschools or family education settings.
- 2017 Israel Educational Journey Blog
- 2014 Israel Education Seminar Blog
- Science Fun for the Holidays Blog
National Advocacy & Research
Articles & Publications
- “Another Kind of Birthright” by Rachel Raz
- “Nurturing Intentional (American) Judaism” by Linna Ettinger
- “Jewish Early Engagement Forum One Year Later: Dayenu? Is it Enough?” by Rachel Raz
- “A Time for Families to Be at the Center” by Linna Ettinger, Mary Lou Allen, Lorraine Arcus, Diana Ganger and Cathy Rolland
- “Ayeka? Where are you?” by Rachel Raz
- “Who Will Guide, Nourish and Love the Next Generation?” by Rachel Raz
- “Israeli Programs Exemplify How Early Engagement Can Effect Social Change” by Rachel Raz
- “The Giving Tree and the Giving Educator” by Rachel Raz and Linna Ettinger
- “Bringing Israel to Manchester Vermont: Pilot Summer Camp Program” by Nina Wugmeister and Rachel Raz
- “A Tree and Me: How the Israeli Ministry of Education Uses Agriculture to Instill Jewish Identity” by Linna Ettinger
- ABC Israel by Rachel Raz
- The Colors of Israel by Rachel Raz
- Ella’s Trip to Israel by Vivian Newman
- Tikkun Olam Ted by Vivian Newman
- Moti the Mitzvah Mouse by Vivian Newman
Boston-Haifa Early Childhood Educators Connection
The Boston Haifa Early Childhood Educators Connection strives to build meaningful and long lasting bridges between educators, students and their families in Haifa and the Greater Boston area. The program includes a personal exchange in which educators from Boston partner with preschool teachers, or gananot, in Haifa. These ambassadors, or shagrirot are involved in ongoing professional development programs. Participants in the program are engaged in constant communication utilizing Facebook, blogs, video conferences, email, package exchange and in-person seminars in both Boston and Haifa.
Throughout the program, knowledge of and connection to Israel and the Jewish Diaspora is enriched. Participants learn and share programs and curricula drawn from their experiences with their own classrooms, schools and communities, strengthening leadership and forging deep personal and professional partnerships. Since its establishment in 2001, the Connection has influenced thousands of Jewish educators. This program is funded by Hebrew College, the Combined Jewish Philanthropies and the Haifa municipality and Department of Education.
- 2017 Mifgash/Seminar in the USA
- 2013 Mifgash/Seminar in the USA
- 2001-2011 Reflections
- Two year report
- Ten year report
Greater Boston Early Childhood Directors Council
The Early Childhood Directors Council provides a central platform for the professional development, collaboration, engagement and personal growth of a diverse community of early-childhood preschool directors. Approximately 30 Jewish preschool directors participate in the council, which is funded by Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston.
On-Site, School-Based Professional Development
The Early Childhood Institute sends its faculty to teach an entire preschool staff, based on a topic of interest, at their site. The impact of learning as a community can have a transforming influence on a school. Some of the topics the ECI has offered include:
- Bringing Israel to the Early Childhood Classroom
- Fall Holidays
- Spring Holidays
- Teaching Hebrew to Young Children
- Shabbat and Havdalah: The Why, the What and the How?
- Trees in Jewish Texts and Thoughts: An Orchard of Relationships
- K’lal Israel for Young Children: Cultural and Ethnic Diversity
Community-Based, Professional-Development Programs
The Early Childhood Institute offers professional development to communities in various localities based on their needs and interest. These sessions can be delivered in person, online or a combination of both. Funded by the Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation, we currently serve the community of the North Shore of Massachusetts. Educators from day schools, religious schools and preschools meet five times during the semester. Topics explored in the past have included “Teaching Hebrew to Young Children: Circle Time,” “Teaching Hebrew to Young Children: Celebrations” and “Enriching the Early-Childhood Jewish Curriculum Using Children’s Literature.”
The PJ Library: Going Beyond the Books
The Early Childhood Institute provides a distance-learning seminar designed for book-based family program coordinators. The seminar’s intent is to advance participants’ skills in conducting meaningful book-based programs for families with young children. In 2010-11, the year-long series of webinars “All Around the Year with the PJ Library: Techniques and Tools for Creating Meaningful Book-Based Family Programs” reached more than 100 participants from across the country. The program is fully funded by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.
Director, Early Childhood Institute
Torah Godly Play is an innovative approach to religious education that seeks not so much to tell stories of faith in order that we will “know” them, but as spiritual action of finding meaning, identity and God through storytelling and listening. The pedagogical ideal of this approach is that, from the earliest age, children are invited to experience and become increasingly aware of the spiritual call within sacred stories and of their own deep response as something naturally afforded by religious narrative.
Watch Hebrew College’s Rabbi Dr. Michael Shire tell the Exodus Story using the Torah Godly Play methodology.
Godly Play has developed over three decades in the United States by Dr. Jerome Berryman, a Christian theologian and educator. However, its respect for and attention to childhood spirituality, and the significance of story to hold and develop that through its unusually contemplative and playful style, addresses educational strategies common to Jews and Christians.
Godly Play was developed by Berryman as an outcome of his work with Montessori-based religious education combined with a contemplative reading of sacred texts (lectio divina). In Berryman’s analysis this is a return to the nonverbal, relational communication system that is foundational to spirituality, and with which we started as children before shifting to a reliance on language to express the spiritual.
As such, it uses specially created artifacts and symbolic objects to enable a trained storyteller to powerfully engage children and adults in the wonderment of sacred text, etc. It is not like anything else that we have witnessed in Jewish education and in some ways is countercultural to the norms in our community of grappling with the text or deconstructing it. It might be considered much more an encounter with the text. In addition, Torah Godly Play is not merely an educational method, but a means to also enact the theology and liturgy of Jewish language. The time spent together in Torah Godly Play is an enactment of a liturgical experience as much as it is a telling of a story.
As you can imagine, Torah Godly Play is a complex and intricate approach to religious education, inviting participants into an encounter with sacred time and sacred space as a community. There are already Torah Godly Play classrooms in synagogues, schools, and JCCs around the United States. Scripted stories of Tanakh and Jewish Festivals have been published. Hebrew College currently runs a community of practice for Godly Play practitioners, and a Facebook Group, as well as offers training seminars for Torah Godly Play in Boston. It also offers resources and consultation to synagogues and schools looking to establish Torah Godly Play classrooms and programs.
Examples of Torah Godly Play in Action
- Hebrew College’s Rabbi Michael Shire describes Torah Godly Play
- A Rabbi demonstrates her Torah Godly Play classroom
- Rabbi Michael Shire outlines the history of Torah Godly Play
- Rabbi Michael Shire presents a Torah Godly Play story to the Paradigm Project’s Jewish educators
- Godly Play Foundation
- Godly Play UK
- Godly Play resources
- Godly Play, Finland
- Torah Godly Play Facebook Group
Torah Godly Play Contact Info
Gretchen Marks Brandt
Shoolman Graduate School of Jewish Education
Center for Jewish Special Education
The Center for Jewish Special Education is dedicated to expanding and strengthening educators’ ability to support students with special needs in Jewish formal and informal educational settings.
Initially funded by a gift from Bernard J. Korman, the center builds on Hebrew College’s extensive experience in preparing Jewish educators to work with students with special needs in inclusive settings, whether as classroom teachers or as Jewish special educators. Integrating the fields of special education and Judaic education, the center strives to address current issues facing educators in Jewish day, congregational and supplemental schools as well as camps and teen programs.
In 2008, the Korman Family Chair in Jewish Education was established, the first of its kind in the country. This professorship provides administrative and academic leadership, vision and scholarship to Hebrew College’s Center for Jewish Special Education.
Professional-development opportunities exist through graduate classes and an annual conference. The center can also tailor professional development opportunities to be delivered on-site.
The center’s Jewish Special Education Conference brings together educators across the United States, Canada, and Israel to share current research and practices in day and supplemental schools as well as informal settings. Since 2009, hundreds of educators have participated in stimulating sessions and discussions about educating students with special learning needs in Jewish educational settings.
Congregational Education Initiative (CEI)
CEI is a teacher professional development program, offered jointly by Hebrew College and CJP’s Jewish Learning Connections. The ultimate goal of the intensive nature of the CEI professional development model is to create a long-term effect on teaching and learning within the school, and to transform the school culture regarding student learning, teacher cooperation, and professional growth.
CEI Programs 2018-2019
Project-Based Expeditionary Learning (PBL)
CEI works with selected teachers and educational directors from schools to introduce project-based learning into their school curriculum and structure. The program focuses on training in the principles and implementation of expeditionary projects. Each school is matched with an experienced consultant to guide the teacher as the project progresses. CEI supports these schools beyond the initial year. (Designer-Trainer: Ronit Ziv-Kreger)
Program in Instructional Leadership (PIL)
This group of congregational school leaders meets to strengthen the vision and skill for teacher development in their programs. This professional learning community comes together to learn and practice the core skills of mentoring teachers, to share their experiences, and to identify and discuss key challenges and opportunities in the field of Jewish supplementary education. As part of the program, the Coordinator visits each participant’s site to co-observe [HF1] a teacher, and then reflect on the observation and its follow-up. (Coordinator and Instructor: Allison Cook)
We are continually reviewing and refining our Professional Development offerings for congregational schools. Please be in touch to discuss the professional development needs in your school.
Congregational Education Contact Info
Director of Educational Initiatives
Shoolman Graduate School of Jewish Education