For Institutions

Introduction

The ARJE works with Reform Jewish institutions who are searching for an educator, religious school principal, youth director or specialist in family, parent, adult or informal education. We are happy to provide resources intended to help institutions find educators, hire educators, and develop and deepen their relationships with educators. There continues to be space for institutions to post open positions. We offer job listings that can be viewed by our members as well as guidelines for engaging an educator and our most recent salary survey. When completing your application, we encourage institutions looking to do a national search for a top-tier educator to pay special attention to the recommendations in the guidelines for educator congregational relationships, especially regarding pension, moving expenses, and professional development.

If your organization is going to start a search for an educator: Everything you need to begin is on this page. If you want guidance, the ARJE will refer you to a knowledgeable, experienced ARJE lay leader. Please email office@reformeducators.org to be connected with an ARJE veteran who will be happy to talk through questions, or concerns for your organization.

If you are thinking about hiring a clergy educator: This resource can help you with that decision. Clergy educator positions should be listed with the CCAR for Rabbis and ACC for cantors. A clergy educator mentor is happy to help you talk through this decision. 

When you are ready to post your job description and the ARJE Educator Search Application submit both to srigler@reformeducators.org. It is the expectation that all ARJE listed jobs contain salary and benefits information, are committed to best practices in pay equity, and include ARJE membership paid for by the institution, and professional development opportunities. 

We aim to confirm receipt and posting status within five business days. 

ARJE Guide for Searching for and Hiring Educators

In this section, you can find information about finding and hiring educators, from the initial stages of crafting job descriptions to contractual guidelines.

Reform Jewish learners, educators, communal service professionals, rabbis, and cantors work together in sacred partnership to create programs which envision and emphasize Jewish education as an essential element in building and maintaining a vibrant Reform Jewish community. Indeed, it is this collaboration and cooperation, this sacred partnership, that has always informed the most effective Jewish education experiences.

Each institution’s mission and its view of itself as a sacred Jewish community should be reflected in the covenantal relationships it establishes with the educator. The institution’s vision can enable the parties to create and sustain an employment relationship reflective of the highest ethical standards of our Jewish heritage. We believe that kavod, honor, is essential for the success of education and educators in their institutions, in their communities, and in the Reform Movement.

If you would like to discuss any part of this process with an experienced mentor, you can contact: office@reformeducators.org

Initial Steps:

When an institution begins their search for a new educator, it should begin by reviewing the resources on this site to ensure the application is positioned to attract a top-tier educator through a national search. Once the committee has been established and materials prepared, the institution will submit the Educator Search Application which is found here.

Once an institution submits its application on file, the ARJE office will review the application and then make it available to ARJE members. The application will only be available to ARJE members on the website. You will get a confirmation of this posting within 5 business days. ARJE encourages institutions to post the application broadly, we are a partner in sharing the posting, but do not require exclusivity in posting.

Setting Up a Search Committee:

If your institution is a synagogue, you might set up a search committee to find a candidate. If that is the case, the following information can help guide that process.

In a congregation, the temple president typically appoints the Search Committee. It should include 6 – 12 members. It is advisable to include various representatives from the institution based on the needs of the role that they are hiring for:

  • the (Senior) Rabbi
  • newer and more senior members of the institution who are appropriate to the terms of the job description those with young children in the school and those without
  • a member of the school faculty
  • a high school student
  • members of the current School Committee or other such body
  • representative(s) from adult education
  • representative(s) from early childhood education.

Other members of the professional staff and clergy may sit on the committee or be involved in the process.

Before candidates are interviewed, the committee can undergo training around unconscious (implicit) bias in hiring or review resources on how to reduce hiring bias. One of the most important steps to reducing hiring bias is self-awareness. This article from the Harvard Business Review provides 7 Practical Steps to Reduce Bias in Hiring. Reading this guide as a committee and committing to taking these steps when hiring is one way to reduce bias in hiring an educator.

Developing Vision and Priorities of the Institution:

When crafting a job description or interviewing candidates, it is important for those involved in the hiring process to discuss the vision and educational priorities of the institution.

During these initial discussions, those involved in the search process may address the following topics in a candid and constructive manner:

  • Describe the religious and educational environment of the institution.
  • What is the vision and mission of the educational program?
  • List three of the institution’s strengths and three challenges.
  • What is the current status of our educational institution?
  • What are three of the strengths of the current educational program?
  • Discuss a challenging situation in the educational program in the institution.
  • Describe an “ideal” applicant for this position.

Your Job Description and ARJE Search Application :

The job description will be one of the first materials prospective educators will see from your institution–you want to make a good first impression! 

By posting your open positions with the ARJE, educators will be able to learn more about your institution rather than just read a job description. 

The search application form will help your institution share more about your organization and help you find the best candidate for the institution. 

The ARJE’s Educator Search assists institutions affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism who are searching for an educator, religious school principal, youth director or specialist in family, parent, adult or informal education. There is no charge to congregations in good standing with the URJ for this service. At the current time we do not list positions outside of the Reform Movement. If you are thinking about hiring a clergy educator this resource can help you with that decision. Clergy educator positions should be listed with the CCAR for Rabbis and ACC for cantors.

Beginning in February 2022 the ARJE changed its career services and job search procedures. The ARJE no longer provides a placement process, rather we have updated our materials to help institutions best position themselves to attract an ARJE educator. ARJE will post jobs on our members only site. ARJE Educators will apply to the institution directly via instructions on that application. 

When you are ready to post your job description and the ARJE Educator Search Application submit both to srigler@reformeducators.org. It is the expectation that all ARJE listed jobs contain salary and benefits information, are committed to best practices in pay equity, and include ARJE membership paid for by the institution, and professional development opportunities. 

We aim to confirm receipt and posting status within five business days. 

ARJE Educator Search Application

Interviewing Candidates:

Below you will find suggested interview questions to ask candidates during the interview that will help you determine if the candidate is a good fit for your institution and if you are a good fit for the candidate.

  • What motivated you to become a Jewish educator?
  • What attracts you to this position?
  • How do you see the role of Jewish education in this type of setting?
  • What is your philosophy of education for this type of setting?
  • How do you go about developing a team among your faculty/staff?
  • Describe curricula and creative programs you have developed and implemented that were successful.
  • Describe curricula and creative programs you have developed and implemented that were not successful.
  • Explain how you would handle a disciplinary situation. Those hiring may present a specific situation and ask the applicant to respond.
  • (If applicable) How would you encourage students to remain in the program after they become B’nei Mitzvah?
  • (If applicable) How do you see your role in working closely with the rabbi, the cantor, and the school committee?
  • Do you prefer to be on the bimah, in the front row, or mixed in with the congregation and why?
  • What questions do you have for us?

This list is only a starting point. If you have institution specific questions that you wish to ask, you might want to consult this guide to determine if your questions are appropriate from the Reform Pay Equity Initiative. Appropriate questions include those that do not lead to gender bias in hiring.

ARJE Guide to Hiring and Negotiating for Institutions

Contractual Guidelines: Initial Contracts through Retirement

The following guidelines are offered with the hope and expectation that each institution will use them as elements in conversations with its educator(s) and as a resource for terms and conditions in the preparation of any agreement that reflects the uniqueness of the institution as well as the job descriptions and/or responsibilities of its educational position(s).

Recommended Period of Engagement

    1. Institutions should consider an applicant’s previous experience and positions when determining the length of an agreement/contract.
    2. The initial engagement of an educator should generally be for a period not less than three (3) years.
    3. Renewals should generally be for a period not less than three (3) years.

Terms of Agreement

    1. Based upon the minhag (culture) of the institution, upon the appointment of the educator, a contract, a letter of agreement, or similar document should be signed by the educator and the authorized representative(s) of the institution.
    2. Terms of the agreement or contract should, whenever feasible, be similar to the agreements between the institution and all professional staff, and in all cases in compliance with applicable law.
    3. It is recommended that both the educator and the institution have the written agreement/contract reviewed by their own legal counsel prior to signing.

Job description

Compensation, including:

    1. Salary
    2. Benefits such as:
      1. Medical insurance coverage for the educator and their family at the same level as other professional staff.
      2. Disability insurance benefits (Long and Short Term are possible)
      3. Life insurance
      4. Pension (ARJE members in good standing who are employed by a Reform institution are eligible for participation in the Reform Pension Plan administered by the Reform Pension Board (RPB). The RPB recommends an annual pension contribution of 18% of the participant’s salary (the recommendation is that 15% should be contributed by the institution, and 3% by the participant).
      5. If an institution does not offer any of these benefits, the educator, at their discretion, should be given the option to allocate a part of the compensation package to purchase the coverage.
    3. Other Benefits

Educators should receive equal benefits to other staff and clergy at the institution, such as:

    1. Professional growth and development allowances:
      1. Payment of membership dues to ARJE and any other professional organizations that are mutually agreed upon.
      2. Financial commitment to provide for attendance at least to one professional conference per year.
      3. Assistance with opportunities to enhance scholarly and professional competence.
    2. Reimbursement of the cost of moving the educator and their family and possessions into the community.
    3. Annual paid vacation of at least one (1) month, on par with the other professional staff
    4. Allowance for time spent on institutionally approved activities, such as professional development gatherings, serving on the staff of URJ camps, NFTY in Israel or leading congregation-related trips to Israel or other overseas destinations with Jewishly related content
    5. Authorization to participate in ARJE & URJ activities, meetings, and conferences, including assistance in making appropriate coverage arrangements when the educator is away from the institution.
    6. Sabbatical Leave— Upon completion of a minimum of seven (7) years of continuous service in the same institution, the educator may be granted a
    7. Sabbatical Leave of Absence “Sabbatical” for the purpose of further professional growth and personal renewal. Terms of the Sabbatical should, as much as feasible, be modeled after Sabbaticals provided to other professional staff, and specify the length of leave, compensation, continuation of benefits, and coverage for the educator during Sabbatical.

Different Types of Leave:

    1. Family Leave- it is recommended that every institution develop and maintain a Family Leave policy. An educator who becomes pregnant or adopts a child, or whose partner becomes pregnant or adopts a child, should notify the institution so that the educator and representatives from the institution can plan for the continued functioning of the institution’s educational programs in the event that the educator will miss any time.
      1. The educator and institution should agree, at the outset of the employment relationship to the extent feasible, upon an appropriate leave of absence. The length of the leave should be respectful of the needs of both the educator and institution and consider providing for the continuation of compensation and benefits during the leave.
      2. To this end, the educator should be entitled to a minimum paid leave of two (2) months, or the same family leave provided to the clergy and/or other professional staff, whichever is greater.
      3. Please refer to this resource from the Women’s Rabbinic Network.
    2. Sick Leave - The educator should be entitled to the same sick leave as provided to other professional staff.
    3. Personal Leave – The educator should be entitled to the same personal leave as provided to other professional staff.

(If applicable) Complimentary congregational membership

    1. Religious & Hebrew School Tuition
    2. Early Childhood tuition or discount
    3. Establishment of an Educator’s Discretionary Fund

Provisions concerning evaluation (see below)

    1. Continuing Employment
      1. The terms of a contract extension or renewal should be agreed upon by the beginning of January, December of the last year of the agreement (contract) in effect, or as soon as the decision to extend or renew the employment relationship has been made by the institution and educator, but not later than six (6) months prior to the expiration of the current contract or term of employment.
      2. Both institutions and educators will benefit from a timely decision regarding contract renewal, in order that both parties can properly plan for the coming year.

Termination of Services

    1. Provided that there has been no gross misconduct or willful neglect of duty or other requirements of continued employment as may be set forth in the parties’ agreement
    2. An educator who desires not to renew the agreement shall give notice to the institution, in writing, by the beginning of January of the final year of the agreement, or not later than six (6) months prior to the end of the agreement, whichever period is greater
    3. The institution that desires not to renew the agreement shall give notice to the educator, in writing, by the beginning of January end of December of the final year of the agreement, or not later than six (6) months prior to the end of the agreement, whichever is greater.
    4. If late notice is given by the institution, the institution should consider providing severance for the educator. The amount of severance pay should be calculated considering all of the circumstances. An appropriate compensation package should include one week’s salary for every year served in the institution. Additionally, health benefits may be extended for the period of the severance.

Outside Activities

    1. If the educator desires to engage in any other employment for compensation, they should consult with their supervisor prior to accepting outside employment.
      1. Examples of outside employment would include but are not limited to speaking engagements; scholar-in-residence programs; officiation at life cycle events for congregation members and/or non-members; publication of materials and/or curriculum items.
    2. If the educator does any writing or public speaking, they should do so in their individual capacity and refrain from referring to the institution, its members, and the work they perform for the institution, unless prior written approval has been obtained from the institution.
    3. Assuming the conditions set forth above have been complied with, in the event that the educator were to receive compensation for any outside activities, they would be entitled to retain that compensation. Such outside compensation would not be considered as part of the educator’s salary for pension or any other benefits.

The Educator Serving Part-time

    1. Not all institutions have the financial or physical resources necessary to hire a full-time education professional.
    2. Expectations regarding the professional approach of the educator in their role as the educational leader of the institution are often the same whether the position is full-time or part-time.
    3. The part-time educator is no less a professional than the full-time educator, and both educator and institution should approach the position with this understanding and expectation.
    4. The part-time educator’s duties and responsibilities should be precisely defined in writing, specifying how many hours each week and how many days each month are to be devoted to the part-time post, including expectations regarding both off-site preparation, preparation time and on-site presence.
    5. The educator serving part-time should be engaged for a fixed term, should receive prorated pension, professional development support and other benefits, and participate in an evaluation process as described above.

Retirement

    1. Every educator, having served the institution and the Jewish community, deserves to be honored for such service, and to live with dignity after retirement.
    2. Terms of a retirement agreement should be similar to an agreement that would be made between the institutional and all professional staff and in compliance with applicable federal, state, and local laws.
    3. Continuing benefits that have been a part of the educator’s contracts should be discussed and addressed. In addition to pension, a retiree’s need for medical benefits, congregational membership (if applicable) and continuing professional association memberships should be considered.
    4. Upon the institution’s acceptance of the decision to retire, the educator and a representative from the institution should discuss and put into a written retirement agreement:
      1. Confirmation of the retirement date
      2. Continuation of medical insurance benefits for educator and dependents
      3. Unused vacation, sabbatical, personal days, sick days
      4. Pension benefits provided by the institution
        1. If the educator’s pension is in the RPB plan, the RPB will provide information as to accrued and anticipated coverage for the educator and options available for retirement (The educator must be an ARJE member to participate in the RPB plan).
        2. Other possibilities for funding a pension include:
          1. Contributions to an IRA plan for the educator
          2. Educator’s participation in a pre-existing institutional pension plan
        3. Benefits, if any, that will continue to be provided to the educator’s surviving spouse/life partner and dependent children, as applicable
        4. Membership in the congregation (if applicable)
        5. Payment of Ziknay ARJE dues
        6. Contribution towards the cost of attending conferences such as: ARJE and/or URJ Biennials
        7. The institution should plan for an appropriate transition that is respectful of the Emeritus while allowing the new educator to establish him/herself.
    5. The Retirement Agreement
      1. All agreements relating to the educator’s retirement should be clearly agreed upon in writing by the educator and the institution. A signed copy of the agreement should be memorialized and retained by both the educator and the institution.

Supervision and Evaluation:

One aspect of a healthy workplace is the practice of providing informal feedback year-round to employees, not just at one appointed time during the year. Cultivating a culture where questions and feedback are welcome helps employees do their best work by allowing them to see where they can grow and change.

The institution needs to establish who will supervise the educator that is being hired so that it is clear who will be providing them feedback as needed.

Evaluation and feedback are crucial for all professional staff in an institution; everyone in an institution, including clergy, should undergo regular evaluation.

Once a year, the educator will undergo a more formal evaluation. Below are tips and guidance on the importance of this evaluation as well as what makes an evaluation successful.

Evaluation

  1. The ultimate purpose of evaluation is to help an institution and its educator strengthen the learning programs of the institution and the understanding and respect of the parties for each other.
  2. Ideally there is a sense of partnership and collaboration regarding the objectives of the education program as well as the evaluation process and the expectations it sets out regarding both lay and professional educational leadership.
  3. The evaluation process should be a tool for stimulating and fostering reflection and dialogue between the parties who are the partners most involved in the process.
  4. In general, it should also not be linked to contract negotiations; rather it should be independent of any other process, setting achievable goals that can be reached in order to improve performance. Like all employees, every educator, even the most accomplished educator who has been in the same position for a number of years, should be an active partner in the evaluation process.
  5. Essential to a successful evaluation process are the development, implementation, and monitoring of:
    1. Clearly articulated and jointly determined goals and expectations for both the educator and institution.
    2. Delegation of responsibility and authority to perform duties of the position.
    3. Identification of individual(s) to whom the educator reports and who will be involved in the evaluation process.
    4. Opportunities for ongoing consultation between evaluations; and
    5. A written plan for the actions and expectations for the coming year that is signed by the educator and an appropriate, mutually-agreed-upon member representing the institution.

The Institution’s Guide to Healthy Workplaces:

Identifying and Creating Respectful Workplaces:

When searching for and maintaining educators in your institution, it is important to consider whether your community’s culture is a respectful and welcoming place to work. There are a few ways that you can determine if your institution has a healthy culture. You might notice some or all of the following:

What is a respectful workplace culture? What would we see if we looked at a respectful workplace?

  • Fear-driven behavior is absent; employees feel free and comfortable to be their authentic, full selves and to advocate for their needs in the workplace
  • People actively listen and assume good-will of others
  • Asking questions and asking for and receiving regular feedback happens among all employees, including those in leadership
  • Staff produce excellent work, both as individuals and collectively 
  • Employees feel both comfortable and also challenged
  • The workplace encourages and requires accountability from workers at all levels

How can we, both as individuals and as institutions, build and steward this kind of culture?

  • Ask ourselves:
    • What does it feel like to be in this environment? What is the emotional climate like? Is it too hot, too cold, too comfortable?
    • Is there collaboration among the employees? Does everyone understand the systems in place?
    • Are we showing up in the ways that we want others to show up for each other? What can we do to be better?
  • Create a culture where feedback and asking questions occurs constantly, not just periodically
  • Through continuing professional development, provide employees with skills to learn how to give and receive feedback, listen, and have uncomfortable conversations t
  • Ensuring that all members of the organization feel their voice is being heard and represented
    • This can be through affinity spaces 
    • This happens when we include marginalized members of the institution on committees and teams making decisions
  • Create a sense of safety so that everyone can be vulnerable and participate fully in the institutional culture

How do respectful workplace cultures prevent bullying, harassment, and abuse?

  • These cultures inspire people to speak up when they see or hear things that do not fit in the culture → these types of workplaces inspire action and responsiveness to both small and large infractions when workplace culture norms are violated 
  • Because a culture has been created, there is accountability and consequences for inappropriate behavior
  • They allow for individuals to show up as their full-selves to the space, which inspires people to do their best work and to buy into the workplace culture.

What are some ways we can uplift the voices of victims of workplace harassment or abuse? More broadly, what can we do to change our workplaces so they are respectful, safe, and equitable places?

  • We should normalize having difficult conversations and normalize people speaking up about inappropriate behavior 
  • Conversation = culture → we must start with having conversations about what kinds of changes we want to see in our institutions and conversations about inappropriate situations 
  • Reframing these conversations–having these conversations is not gossip or lashon ha rah
  • We need to move away from the idea that calling out “bad” behavior is lashon ha rah; actually, it’s a mitzvah and our duty to call it out and it is more damaging for the community and victims to remain quiet in the face of hurtful behaviors 
  • We want to acknowledge that we’re human and will make mistakes in changing our institutional cultures and that’s ok!
  • Rather than waiting for the “right” moment to do the work, we shouldn’t hesitate to begin, and should start by having conversations about our institutional values, needs, and vision for change

Resources for identifying workplace culture:

  1. Keilim
  2. How to spot a toxic work culture
  3. How to spot a healthy work culture
  4. What institutions should and shouldn't ask you in a job interview
  5. Ta’amod

Negotiations, Compensation and Benefits (Pay Equity):

The ARJE will only post job descriptions that provide salary and benefit information upfront for job seekers, as salary transparency leads to pay equity in our institutions.

As an institution, you should draft, in writing, the terms of negotiations in a written contract or letter of agreement that is prepared and signed by both parties when an agreement has been reached. There should be a written job description for the position you are posting, and this job description should be made available to the candidate before they sign a contract or letter of agreement.

Terms of the agreement or contract should, whenever feasible, be similar to the agreements between the institution and other professional staff of the institution, and in all cases in compliance with applicable law.

It is recommended that both the institution and the educator have the written agreement/contract reviewed by their own legal counsel prior to signing.

Below are more resources to help you with any questions you may have about negotiations, compensation, and benefits:

  1. Pay Equity Resources from the Women of Reform Judaism
  2. Salary Range Transparency Toolkit from the Gender Equity in Hiring Project
  3. Contract Negotiation Sampler
  4. 7 Practical Ways to Reduce Hiring Bias, Harvard Business Review
  5. Gender Equity in Hiring Project Resources for organizations
  6. Tips for LGBTQ+ Supportive/Positive Hiring Practices

Educator and Institutional Relationships

Below are resources for building and maintaining relationships between institutions and educators. We hope that these help guide your interactions with your employees and provide support when needed.

  1. Family and Medical Leave Policy Standards
  2. Evaluating Educational Leaders–Performance Review

Gender, Race, and Safety in the Workplace

Below you will find resources to help your institution make policy and cultural changes to create more equitable, safe, and respectful workplaces. There are also resources about how to proceed if harmful behavior occurs in your institution.

  1. SRE Network Standards for creating safe, respectful, and equitable Jewish workplaces
  2. SRE Toolkit to help organizations implement changes that create safe, respectful, equitable Jewish workplaces
  3. SRE Report: We Need to Talk (about Public Discourse and Survivor Experiences of Safety, Respect, and Equity in Jewish Workplaces and Communal Spaces)
  4. Responding to Disclosures of Victimization