Posted on September 18th, 2016

We are Stronger Together

Education.
Engagement.
What is “it?” What does “it” look like when we do “it” successfully?
Where do they intersect? Where do they diverge?

These questions are being asked in many of our circles: in the halls of Jewish academia, like HUC-JIR, Brandeis and JTS; in the synagogue staff meetings, between directors of education, religious school principals, directors of youth engagement, youth group advisors, rabbis and cantors; in camp visioning and planning conversations; in central agencies such as the Jewish Education Project’s recent research and recommendations in Generation Now.

Without even knowing the answers, one thing we have come to understand is that we need to work collectively in both asking and answering these and many other related questions. Some of our work settings have already successfully eliminated those silos, creating holistic visions and structures for doing the work of education and engagement. No longer can we function in detached and erroneously separated silos of “youth engagement” and “Jewish education,” or “informal” and “formal.”

The merger of ARJE and RYPA brings together all Reform Jewish professionals who engage and educate youth in synagogues, camps, and other Jewish organizations. As one organization, we are able to:
– Authenticate in our professional association the close relationships that exist on the ground in our day-to-day work settings
– Provide common support and advocacy for professionals who may have diverse portfolios yet collectively embrace the ARJE mission
– Create space for a diversity of professionals to network, explore curiosities, ideas, varied practices and approaches together through our rich professional learning opportunities

What does this mean for the ARJE from a nuts and bolts organizational perspective?
It means we need more and diverse voices sitting around the many ARJE tables. Get involved and join in our work. Encourage your colleagues to join the ARJE. It means we need to listen to and hear each other as we learn with and about each other on our various webinars and at our annual gathering. It means we need to invest in ourselves and in the ARJE. Giving to the ARJE is an investment in yourself as a professional as well as an investment in your professional association. All donations to the ARJE go to providing services and support for our members. It means we have to be both patient and determined as the ARJE grows and evolves.

We share a commitment to excellence in Jewish education, Jewish learning, and Jewish engagement. We are stronger when we do this sacred work together.

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