YU Establishes Graduate Level Professional Certification Program in Experiential Jewish Education
Yeshiva University’s commitment to Jewish education, its success in sending thousands of students internationally on Service Learning missions and its impact on communal life through its many leadership training programs has laid the foundation for a Certificate Program in Experiential Jewish Education.
The graduate-level program is one of the first of its kind, and in essence is formalizing the profession of informal education in the Jewish world. It is supported by the Jim Joseph Foundation Education Initiative, which has provided a total of $45 million in grants to YU, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and Hebrew Union College to increase the number and enhance the quality of Jewish educators working with Jewish youth and young adults.
“Yeshiva University is proud to pioneer this program in Experiential Jewish Education, a field dedicated to shaping Jewish life in frameworks ranging from camps to campuses and from classrooms to communities,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, the David Mitzner dean of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF). “Our goal is to professionalize the passion of individuals who are committed to Jewish faith, practice, identity and peoplehood and dedicated to utilizing this amalgam in the promotion of the experiential to empower vibrant Jewish life.”
“While preparing the program, we recognized if we are to train and support professionals we need to rethink how we understand the field,” said Shuki Taylor, who is overseeing the development of the program. “We have defined four foundations of Experiential Jewish Education that will be focused upon in the program: Imparting Values, which focuses on content development, spiritual growth, values education; Creating Experiences, which focuses on use of space and environment, innovation and multi sensory education; Cultivating Communities which focuses on the psychology and sociology of learners, staff, boards and donors; and Self Development which focuses on organizational skills, authentic use of self and the balance of personal and professional life.”
The one-year program, which will initially be open to 20 graduate level students consists of four seminars, each lasting about five days during breaks in the academic calendar. Each seminar will focus on one of the four foundations of Experiential Jewish Education. In addition, the seminars offer concentrations in Jewish camping, service learning, youth engagement, emerging adulthood and social innovation. Each seminar will culminate with an exposition called Merkaz Maase, providing participants with access to a world of practical applications relevant to the field of Experiential Jewish Education.
“Over the course of the year, participants will be privy to cutting edge seminars and retreats, ongoing networking and mentorship opportunities, and exposure to world-renown educators,” added Rabbi Brander.
The first seminar will begin in late May of this year, the second in January, and the third and fourth in June of 2012. The will also be a distance learning component, as well as a final project.
The funding from the Jim Joseph Foundation will also be utilized to create the Yeshiva University Innovators Circle, a year-long incubator project for select students of the certificate program who have a vision and venture that address local needs in the realm of education and social activism. Fellows of this circle will create, build, and facilitate their own ventures while receiving ongoing mentoring and support from professionals at YU. In addition to annual stipends and seed funding for their ventures, a full scholarship to the certificate program will be provided.