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The Four Foundations

Successful Experiential Jewish Education results from the integration of the following four foundations:

  • Imparting Values
  • Creating Experiences
  • Cultivating Communities
  • Self-Development

 

Foundation 1: Imparting Values

Experiential Jewish Education seeks to impart values, spark spiritual growth and share knowledge rooted in the rich tradition of Judaism, enabling individual and communal development.

Experiential Jewish educators must own the values that they impart. They need to be literate in experiential Jewish education resources, know how to use them to enrich their programs, and actively cross-pollinate this knowledge with additional disciplines. Through a deliberate curriculum, experiential Jewish educators create meaningful teaching moments infused with Jewish knowledge and values.

While identifying values and crafting substantial experiences rich with significance, experiential Jewish educators hold important and challenging roles as pedagogues, guiding participants while they grapple with struggles inherent to the formation of individual identities and spiritual development.

 

Foundation 2: Creating Experiences

Experiential Jewish educators have the ability to transform routine activities into innovative and inspiring experiences not only in the classroom, but also in the context of Shabbatonim, summer camps, retreats, Israel trips, youth programs, service initiatives and more.

The success of Experiential Jewish Education is ultimately determined by the quality of its experiences, which must be engaging, fun, innovative, and infused with Jewish content based on deliberate curricula. 

What makes these experiences extraordinary and captivating is that they carefully utilize environment and space, stimulate all senses and engage a variety of intelligences. 

 

Foundation 3: Cultivating Communities

In order to impart values and share meaningful experiences, experiential Jewish educators need to know how to excite, enlist and empower stakeholders, which include families, teens, adult learners, seniors, community professionals, lay leaders, and donors.

Experiential Jewish educators must master the art of listening, and identifying with their audience’s passions, struggles and challenges to ensure that their content is relevant and their experiences are captivating.

By cultivating meaningful and long lasting relationships with program beneficiaries, staff members, volunteers, boards and donors, experiential Jewish educators are able to capture their audiences, cultivate key stakeholders and evaluate real needs.

 

Foundation 4: Self Development

Aside from mastering organizational and reflective skills, the experiential Jewish educator needs to appreciate the sensitivities related to authentic use of self, use and abuse of power, creation of healthy relationships, and balance of personal and professional life. 
   
Serving as a role model is an unbelievable opportunity to instill passionate and values-driven Jewish living, but it is also a responsibility that requires guidance and mentorship from experienced and well-seasoned educators, teaching not only knowledge and skills, but also the importance of confidence, humility, compassion and integrity.

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“Identifying what it is we do and putting the language and methodology to Experiential Jewish Education was crucial. It was the first time I’d seen the field broken down into four foundations or pillars, and exploring each of the four helped me understand the bigger picture as well as identify the challenges.”
 
Kayla Kahn, Cohort II, Columbia/Barnard Hillel, New York, NY