Basic Organization Information
JEWISH EDUCATION SERVICE OF NORTH AMERICA INC
- Also Known As:
- Physical Address:
New York, NY
- Web URL:
- Blog URL:
- NTEE Category:
B Educational Institutions
B01 Alliance/Advocacy Organizations
B Educational Institutions
B05 Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis
X Religion, Spiritual Development
- Ruling Year:
- How This Organization Is Funded:
Contributions - $1,886,852
Program Services - $734,988
Federal Allocations - $753,733
JESNA promotes innovation and systemic change in Jewish education in order to broaden and deepen educational participation and to enhance the impact of Jewish learning on the lives of its participants.
Dr. Jonathan Woocher
Jonathan Woocher, Ph.D. is JESNA’s Chief Ideas Officer and directs its Lippman Kanfer Institute, which is an action-oriented think-tank for Innovation in Jewish learning and engagement.Jon served as JESNA’s chief professional officer for twenty years before assuming his new role in 2007. In addition to guiding the work of the Lippman Kanfer Institute, he is a member of the agency’s senior management team, working with his colleagues on JESNA’s strategic direction, new project development, external relations and financial resource development. Prior to starting at JESNA in 1986, Jon was an Associate Professor in the Benjamin S.Hornstein Program in Jewish Communal Service at Brandeis University, where he taught courses in Jewish political studies and communal service and directed the program in Continuing Education for Jewish Leadershisumma cum laude, in Political Science and his M.A. and Ph.D.from Temple University in Religious Studies. He has also studied at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.
When JESNA was created, its founders knew that Jewish education needed a national agency both to lead and to serve the best interests of the communities that comprise our national system. Today, those roles remain central to our mission, but our understanding of how best to fulfill them has evolved and grown. In fact, for the last two years, we at JESNA have been imagining a future marked by innovation and change even as we have been expanding our own portfolio of change initiatives.
We started by examining what truly is at the root of our passionate commitment to Jewish education. It is not enough to be satisfied with importing facts or treating Jewish education as an insurance policy against intermarriage and assimilation. The richness and beauty of Jewish tradition and history should infuse our lives with purpose and meaning. We at JESNA seek to transform and strengthen Jewish education so that it can fulfill those needs for learners of every age and stage of life. We understand that nothing less than transformation of Jewish education is necessary to meet the challenges that face North American Jews living in a diverse and open society.
In order to accomplish our mission, we have always worked with educational, communal, and philanthropic leaders and social entrepreneurs from across the spectrum of ideologies and settings. These alliances and partnerships multiply many times the impact of our efforts and allow us to focus our resources on the areas of which we excel – as thought leaders and advocates, as evaluators and guides, as capacity-builders and as champions of innovation.
Cass Gottlieb, Chair
Board of Directors
Highest Paid Employees & Their Compensation
Lippman Kanfer Institute
- Population Served:
The Lippman Kanfer Institute is an action-oriented think tank for innovation in Jewish learning and engagement. Its goal is to ensure that Jewish education remains relevant and effective in the challenging and rapidly changing environment of the 21st century. The Lippman Kanfer Institute brings new thinking to important issues and opportunities facing Jewish education, such as the limited and episodic nature of educational participation among many Jews; the need to build powerful synergies among multiple forms of education; and the untapped potential of technology, the arts, social action and other media for Jewish communication, self-expression and engagement.
The Institute maintains a vigorous connection with front-line practitioners and draws on and seeks to enhance innovative work already underway that promises to dramatically extend Jewish education’s reach and impact. The Lippman Kanfer Institute pays special attention to learnings from beyond the field of Jewish education. The Lippman Kanfer Institute’s innovative ideas are brought to the field through vehicles such as conferences and colloquia, print and electronic publications; interactive media like wikis and blogs, and direct contact with educators and policy-makers working on the front lines.
The Lippman Kanfer Institute is an integral part of JESNA and contributes to its mission to improve and transform Jewish education by identifying and advocating for new and better ways of organizing and delivering Jewish education to communities, institutions, policy-makers, funders and practitioners. The work of the Lippman Kanfer Institute is supported by the Lippman Kanfer Family Foundation, based in Akron, Ohio.
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Impact Summary from the Nonprofit
JESNA concluded this past year with a number of notable achievements:· Communities participating in the WOW! Project began to roll out the new programs that were developed through its unique community-wide planning process. For example, Columbus OH launched its Mosaic Learning Lab, an innovative “badge” model that allows third and fourth grade students from two pilot congregations to learn at their own pace, involves families in the learning activities, and puts teachers in the role of mentors who guide their students through learningexperiences in and out of the classroom. The seven congregations in MetroWest’s E3 initiative have applied design theory to launch innovation projects in each of their communities, and function collaborative as an incubator/community of practice to learn together and support each others’ initiatives. The first of Toronto’s initial WOW projects (including a new downtown community and expansion of Jewish educational engagement of teens in public schools) have had a ‘soft launch’ – with incubation and capacity-building (including program design, business planning, and marketing) are continuing for up to a dozen additional intiiatives that will roll out in the coming year. One of the newest communities, Southern Arizona, held a community summit that mobilized the community around teen engagement, and have already begun planning for a community-wide online portal and concierge.
The Lippman Kanfer Institute, in partnership with The Jewish Education Project, and with the support of the UJA Federation of New York, mounted the third Jewish Futures Conference on the theme “Community and the Cloud.” The conference, held at Columbia University, attracted close to 450 leaders, educators and activists who participated in person, with many more watching online. JESNA’s Jewish Education Change Network grew to include nearly 900 educators, parents, volunteer and professional leaders, financial supporters, advocates, and learners. Its Ning, webinars, collection of resources, and bi-weekly digest have made it a potent marketplace for encountering new ideas and engaging with colleagues.
JESNA continued to employ cutting-edge technologies to disseminate knowledge and educational resources through a variety of vehicles including the Sosland Online Resource Center, online publications, over 30 webinars and virtual meetings that reached many hundreds of educators and education leaders on a wide range of topics, and social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter. JESNA’s most recent addition to this lineup is the InnovationXChangeTM, an interactive online compendium of new program models and resources.
JESNA worked with the Avi Chai Foundation and The Jewish Education Project to provide support and guidance to dozens of day schools across North America seeking to introduce online and blended learning through the DigitalJLearning project. Due to the program’s great success in its initial year, nineteen additional day schools joined in the 2012-2013 academic year.
JESNA continued to expand the reach and impact of its long-term Lainer-Masa Fellows program by adding American students studying at the University of Haifa to its current programs at the Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University.JESNA used its capabilities as both a thought leader and an on-the-ground consultant to help strength the Jewish educational work of our two largest religious movements, Reform and Conservative Judaism, including keynoting a Jewish Education Summit for the Union for Reform Judaism and helping a Conservative Jewish leadership Commission convened by the United Synagogue develop a new design for Conservative Jewish learning.