Posted on April 19th, 2016

Everything is Blossoming

It is finally Nissan; now we know that spring is really upon us. It is said that the month of Nissan is the only month of the year that we can recite the blessing for the first time seeing a fruit tree in bloom.


Blessed are you Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, whose world lacks nothing, and who made wondrous creations and beautiful trees for human beings to enjoy.

Living in the Central Valley, in California, at this time of year I see blooming fruit trees on almost a daily basis. It truly is a sight to behold, acres and acres of almonds, pistachios, citrus and stone fruit trees blooming with varying shades of white and pink blossoms. The air carries the sweet aromas. The lemons are practically falling off my tree, and the oranges are beginning to grow.

As I reflect on the ARJE’s blossoming as an organization, I am in awe of all the work we have done in the last several months to further our mission and goals and to express our voice as the leaders of Reform Jewish Education. As your president, I am proud to have represented us in several of these conversations.

• HUC-JIR search for new Senior Director of Schools of Education
Many of our members have expressed concern about the future of the College-Institute’s commitment to the professional education of Jewish educators. Rest assured, I share that concern and have shared it with the senior leadership of the College. Along with me, several ARJE members and leaders have and continue to participate in various aspects of the search for a new senior director.

• Network for Research in Jewish Education (NRJE)
For several years, ARJE has partnered with NRJE to bring the Journal of Jewish Education to our members at a discounted price. We are now in conversations with NRJE about how to possibly expand that relationship through other avenues of connection such as professional learning, NRJE memberships etc.

• URJ North American Board
As ARJE President, I sit on the URJ’s North American Board and we have several very strong allies in URJ leadership. Many of you witnessed the honor Stan Schickler and I received during the Torah service at Biennial. (I’ve been told it was the hagbah heard around the world!) The URJ’s new chairperson, Daryl Messinger, is also a very strong ally for ARJE and an advocate for Jewish education. For example, on a recent call for new URJ Board members, with a very extensive agenda, Daryl took the time to single me out, asking me to share details about our successful Yom Iyun; she wanted to make sure to highlight the good work we do for our Movement.

• URJ Strengthening Congregations – Community of Practice (CoP) on Reimagining Congregational Education
As you have seen in our various announcements, we are partnering with the URJ on a new Community of Practice on Reimagining Congregational Education. Our members Dr. Isa Aron, Lisa Langer, RJE and Julie Lambert, RJE are staffing the CoP and surely there will be other members participating in it. If you are interested in participating in the CoP, the application process is now open.

• Kutz’s ARJE Madrichim Training Initiative
We are excited to be continuing our partnership with Kutz in offering a month-long madrichim training minor at camp this summer. Four ARJE members will be serving on faculty at Kutz in order to create and teach in this program. As a reminder, all those who were present at the Yom Iyun have the ability to grant a $100 discount to a student they nominate to participate in the Madrichim Training minor this summer. Please consider who in your high school community might be a good candidate for the Kutz program. It is not too late for them to register!

As we continue to celebrate and welcome the coming of spring, as well as Passover, also known as Chag he’Aviv, I invite us all to take note of both the literal and metaphorical blossoms we see around us each day: the blossoming trees in our gardens and fields, the blossoming of growth and innovation, of relationships, and of learning and understanding.

Chag sameach and a zissen Peasach,


Rabbi Laura Novak Winer, RJE, is the President of the ARJE.