Guest post by Deborah Fishman, Director of Communications at The AVI CHAI Foundation.  Cross posted with permission from the AVI CHAI Foundation Blog.

A year ago, I set out on a journey to understand how Jewish professionals are acting as network-weavers. I started by interviewing trailblazers who are activating their organizations’ constituencies towards common goals. I met community organizers advocating for causes from new educational models to environmental consciousness in the Jewish community. I encountered group facilitators sparking conversation on best practices in using technology in day schools and growing vibrant synagogues. I spoke with those engaging alumni, young Jews, and other target populations to become active, lifelong Jewish learners. Some of these interviews were featured on eJewishPhilanthropy. These conversations led me to realize that Jewish professionals working with networks in a diversity of settings would benefit tremendously from resources on network-weaving within and beyond a Jewish context – including one another. I first wrote here about the idea of providing this through a training program for network-weavers.

In my role as Director of Communications for The AVI CHAI Foundation, I am creating a laboratory for experimentation around how network-weaving can be applied to improve the effectiveness of Jewish organizations in engaging their constituencies. From November 2012 to August 2013, in HaReshet (“The Network”), a pilot group of AVI CHAI grantees are learning together about network-weaving; developing and practicing skills in a guided and reflective way; and benefiting from sharing lessons with one another along the journey.

Grantees were selected for this pilot program based on two criteria. First, they see the value of their organizations as networks working toward a particular goal. Second, someone is currently on staff with time allocated to work with this network and help it achieve its potential. These criteria match the intention of HaReshet to help expedite the work of organizations who will regardless be exploring the frontier of building networks this year. I am truly excited to be working with the following participants:

  • Frayda Goshor-Cohen and Luba Yusim from the Consortium of Applied Jewish Studies in Jewish Education (CASJE), managed by Rosov Consulting: Connecting researchers, practitioners and philanthropists in the field of Jewish education;
  • Gary Hartstein from DigitalJLearning, a project of the Jewish Education Project: Networking Jewish day schools which are implementing online and blended learning;
  • Jane Cohen from the Day School Leadership Training Institute (DSLTI) of the Davidson Graduate School of Education at JTS: Activating the alumni network of graduates of the DSLTI professional development program, which trains and supports heads of Jewish day schools;
  • Debbie Feinstein and Yael Bailey from the Jewish New Teacher’s Project (JNTP), a project of the New Teacher Center: Creating a network of alumni of its programs, which accelerate the effectiveness of beginning teachers in Jewish day schools;
  • Rebecca Braverman of Reshet Ramah of the National Ramah Commission; Creating a network of Ramah alumni
  • Miriam Cohen and Drorit Farkas of TaL AM: Creating a network of teachers using the TaL AM curriculum of Hebrew Language Arts and Jewish Studies.

HaReshet brings alive a vision of how network-weaving is not just new content to be learned. Rather, it is a mindset and approach, which the program itself embodies. Instead of top-down lectures, blended in-person and online webinars accommodating participants both within and beyond New York City enable the interactive discussion of network concepts. Instead of passive learning, participants are required to actively apply the material through exercises between the monthly webinars.

Also critical to network-weaving is the belief that learning is not unidirectional. As the Jewish chevruta model recognizes, there is tremendous value in learning – and in learning together. This concept is particularly relevant to the emerging field of network-weaving, where some may have more experience in working with networks, but we all stand to learn from one another. In HaReshet, each participant is paired with a chevruta partner experienced in network-weaving who will coach him or her to achieve specific personal and professional goals. Our esteemed chevruta partners are: Miriam Brosseau of The Jewish Education Project/ Darim Online (See3), Caren Levine of Etheoreal, Lisa Colton of Darim Online (See3), Liz Fisher of Birthright NEXT, Naava Frank of YU Institute for University-School Partnership, and Sara Shapiro-Plevan of Rimonim Consulting.

Ultimately, in a woven network, the discrete components add up to a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts. The AVI CHAI Foundation in North America invests in a wide range of initiatives that further Jewish literacy, religious purposefulness, and peoplehood/Israel at Jewish day schools and summer camps. While grantees are united around these three core values, they each represent a different path toward making them come to life. Given that AVI CHAI is sunsetting in 2020, it is especially important to the foundation to leave a legacy of strong organizations that can consciously articulate and promote the values to future generations. Part of this work may be to bring together grantees who perceive themselves as operating in very different contexts and helping them understand the ways in which they are working toward similar goals. HaReshet hopes to enable the individual participating networks to grow and each network-weaver to achieve greater confidence and mastery in acting in this role. It also may be one place where grantees can benefit not only from the value of the program, but also the value of access to one another. In doing so, they may begin to think about how they are a part of and can enhance a bigger picture.

At the same time, I have realized the deep importance not just of network-weaving as a concept, but of the individual network-weavers themselves. Their skills, personalities, and dedication greatly influence the ways their networks develop, and are in many cases what enables their networks to take off. I am privileged to work with and learn from so many passionate and talented network-weavers, and look forward to what we can achieve together.

Many of you will be at this year’s ISTE conference in San Diego – some of you are already there, other’s in transit.  The session promises to be a great opportunity to meet, network, discuss issues of importance to Jewish educators, and integrate many of your learnings into a Jewish context.

Jewish Educators Network at ISTE 2012
Monday, June 25,  5:30pm-6:45pm PDT
San Diego Convention Center
Building/Room: SDCC 5

Special thanks to the following colleagues who helped plan this session:
Rachel Abrahams, Claire Hirschorn, Eli Kannai, Caren Levine, Chani Lichtiger, Jodi Mishkin-Michaelson, Beth Rosenberg, Jane Slotin, Richard Solomon

Whether you will be there or not, please feel free to participate in our online spaces to introduce yourselves and share more about your work:

Please participate in any or all of the above – they have been developed over time by the community!

Wish I could be there myself!

Warm regards to you all and safe travels!!

Don’t miss out on these opportunities for this coming year’s ISTE Conference in beautiful San Diego, CA.  Once again, two foundations are offering generous scholarships/ fellowships  for  educators to attend the ISTE Conference and related programming.  Please note the qualifications and the deadlines for each program!

The AVI CHAI Foundation is awarding 10 scholarships to attend ISTE 2012.  Eligible candidates must be an administrator (head of school, principal, dean, rosh yeshiva, director of educational technology, etc.) at a Jewish day school in North America. Preference will be given to Jewish studies oriented educators.  The deadline for applying is March 11, 2012 at 11:59pm EST.  Details and a link to the application are found here.

PELIE is offering 20 fellowships to attend ISTE 2012.  All individuals working in part-time Jewish education are invited to apply.   The deadline for applying is on or before March 11, 2012.  Details and a link to the application are found here.

We will once again be convening our annual Birds of A Feather Jewish Educators Network.  Details to follow!

[cross-posted from JewPoint0]

We are thrilled to announce that applications for the new Darim Online Social Media Boot Camp for Educators (2012-2013) are open! Learn more… and apply!!

  • Are you a creative, curious, risk-taking educator in a Jewish educational setting?
  • Do you have a really great idea for using new media / educational technology that you’ve wanted to test out?
  • Do you want Darim to be your personal coach and mentor as you plan and launch your project?
  • Is your organization ready to think about what it means to achieve your mission in a digital age?
  • Are you interested in joining a community of like-minded educators for 9 months of intensive professional development and collaborative learning?

Darim Online is pleased to announce the opening of applications for our next cohort of Social Media Boot Camp for Educators. This program will support innovative Jewish educators in using social media effectively in their work, and assist their organizations in evolving models for success in the digital age.

The Social Media Boot Camp for Educators program is made possible through a generous grant by The Covenant Foundation.

About the Program

Darim is seeking to mentor up to 10 Jewish educational organizations, represented by 3-5 person teams, that are engaged in innovation and risk taking and which serve North American Jews. These teams will participate in a year long professional development and coaching experience to advance their work.

Program Structure

This Boot Camp cohort will run during the upcoming academic year, September 2012 – May 2013. Boot Camp teams are expected to commit 5-10 hours per month toward related professional development and project implementation (including webinars, coaching, and project development).

The program includes:

  • Participation in our series of monthly skill-building webinars which includes Darim’s overall Learning Network for Educators (teachers, directors of education, rabbis, lay leaders, and others interested in Jewish education);
  • Private coaching and consulting with Darim consultants to address strategic and tactical goals, and to help design, implement, and refine a technology-supported project. Teams from each organization will meet with a coach approximately twice a month over the academic year, with additional communications as needed;
  • Connection with other members of the Social Media Boot Camp, to learn from each others’ experience and projects through an online community and webinar-based sharing;
  • Representatives of your organization are welcome to attend any and all Darim Online Learning Network webinars

About the Team Driven Model

This program seeks to support educators and their organizations in creating and implementing social media projects that achieve their mission, and serve to mature the organization’s strategy and operations for success in the digital age. To achieve this goal, we believe that it is important for teams to participate in the program. Suggested team composition should include: an educator, senior staff, and lay leadership or other volunteer.

Teams will focus on a particular goal and project which may include innovations in: curricular design, professional development, parent-school engagement, or marketing and communications… just to suggest a few ideas. While the team will focus on one specific project, we expect that the experience of the Boot Camp will pay dividends in many areas of your work. We hope through this experience you will become active participants in shaping the future strategic direction of their organization.

Eligibility and Expectations


Applications are open to educators and their organizations, including but not limited to classroom teachers, education directors, rabbis, and cantors who work with North American Jews. We welcome applications from educators working within traditional institutions as well as those engaged in new models of Jewish education.

Our current cohort includes national Jewish educational organizations, congregational / complementary school programs, and a day school.


We are dedicated to your success!

We therefore emphasize that regular participation in the Boot Camp is essential to gaining maximal value out of your experience and is important to the dynamic of the overall Boot Camp community.

Please be sure you and your team are willing to commit to this program. Below are our expectations for a successful experience. We recognize that we are working across multiple time zones and schedules and we are committed to being flexible and accessible within the program’s parameters so that you can derive the most benefit from your participation possible.

  • Regular attendance at our series of skill-building webinars, which include education-focused sessions and general skill building sessions. Each member of your team is expected to attend at least 7 webinars over the course of the program, two of which can be downloaded and played instead of attending live;
  • Regular participation in team coaching sessions with a Darim coach (approximately twice a month);
  • Dedication of at least 3-8 hours per month to develop and launch your project;
  • Regular participation in the Boot Camp’s online community;
  • Presentation of your work in at least one Sharefest! Webinar;
  • Willingness to share and disseminate lessons learned;
  • Documentation of your experience in a format that can be shared with the community (e.g., a guest blog post on or a written case study).

Upon successful participation in this program per the terms above, each team will receive a budget of up to $250 to be used toward your project, subject to approval by Darim. Each team will be required to submit receipts for such purchases (e.g., securing a domain name, a private blog, a Flip video camera or other products or licenses).


Applications for the Social Media Boot Camp for Educators can be found here and are due Sunday, April 1, 11:59pm ET. Those chosen to participate in the cohort will be announced in late May.

Apply here!

A copy of the application form is available here to preview. We recommend that you prepare your responses in advance and cut and paste the text into the application form, since you will be required to complete the application in one sitting (but give us a shout if you run into trouble).

Important Dates

The Boot Camp runs during the 2012-2013 academic year (September 2011 -May 2012).

Please note: Although the program officially kicks off Fall 2012, we recognize that some participants may wish to begin their planning earlier; we are open to providing coaching on a limited basis to participants over the summer.

February 20, 2012 – Application process open
April 1, 2011 – Applications due by 11:59pm ET
Early May 2012 – Announcement of Social Media Boot Camp for Educators cohort
June 2012 – early coaching option for Boot Campers;
September 2012– Cohort Kick-Off, regular coaching schedule and webinars begin;
May 2013 – Final Boot Camp for Educators Sharefest!: to present work to the community; cohort concludes.


Please contact us at

#jedchat is coming – and you are it! The first #jedchat synchronous twitter chat for Jewish educators will be held Wednesday, October 26 at 9pmET.

What is #jedchat? In short, it’s professional learning and networking at your fingertips, brought to you by the collaborative team of Akevy Greenblatt (@Akevy613), Dov Emerson (@dovemerson), and Rabbi Meir Wexler (@RabbiWex) via Twitter.

#jedchat is modeled after the successful #edchat collaborative discussions that have taken place on Twitter since 2009.  Edchat brings together educators and those interested in education from around the world every Tuesday at 12pmET and 7pmET.   Many Jewish educators are active participants in Edchat and the network that has developed around the synchronous conversations.

Inspired by Edchat, #jedchat was created to foster connections and support professional learning for Jewish educators by Jewish educators. Akevy Greenblatt explains:

“We wanted to give Judaic teachers from all backgrounds an open and safe forum to share ideas and learn from each other.”

So put on your thinking kippot and join the inaugural conversation which will center on: What do you want to gain from jedchat? How can we develop a Judaic pln (professional learning network).

Join in the Learning :

  • Get ready to participate – got a twitter account? Follow the conversation here.   Better yet, add your voice to the conversation by tweeting your ideas.  Remember to include #jedchat in your tweet.  And don’t forget to save #jedchat under your “Searches” for easy reference. You can also use a filtering tool to better follow the stream of tweets like Tweetdeck (see the #Edchat tutorial here).
  • Don’t have a twitter account yet? Set one up – it’ll only take a few minutes. The hardest part will probably be figuring out your Twitter name! Here’s a how-to from Twitter.
  • Set your clock for  the real time #jedchat on Wednesdays at 9pm ET (you can figure out your local time for the first chat by clicking on the link).
  • No need to set your clock. Participants are using the #jedchat tag to extend the conversation and share resources and ideas at any time, as applicable. Think of it as a perpetual global cocktail party.
  • Join the jedchat wiki and connect – add your name and twitter name to the participants section, share your ideas for upcoming topics!
  • Take a gander at PEJE’s tutorial for tips and techniques for becoming a Twitter power user: You Can Speak the Language of Twitter
  • Check out Shelly Terrell’s (@ShellTerrell) tips for participating in a twitter chat based on her experiences with #edchat
  • Want more Jewish education goodness?  Follow#jed21 and join the conversations!

Most importantly, have fun learning and connecting! #jedchat is all about the people who make the conversation! Will we see you there? What topics would you like to engage with on #jedchat? Take the #jedchat hashtag out for a spin and tweet out your ideas!

Special thanks to Akevy Greenblatt (@Akevy613), Dov Emerson (@dovemerson), and Rabbi Meir Wexler (@RabbiWex)!

photo credit: misspixels on flickr

Over 65 educators convened at this year’s Jewish Educators Network Birds of a Feather! Participants included veteran attendees, new friends, and Fellows from AVI CHAI and PELIE.  About 2/3 of the participants were new to ISTE.

We had representation from Canada, Israel, and the United States including: ACAJE/JOP, Philadelphia, PA; Agudas Achim, Attleboro, MA; AMHSI   Philadelphia, PA; Association of Jewish Libraries; AVI CHAI Foundation; Bais Yaakov School for Girls, Baltimore, MD; Beth El, Alexandria, VA; Beth Tfiloh Dahan, Baltimore, MD; Bialik High School     Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Bi-Cultural Day School, Stamford, CT; BJELA, Los Angeles, CA; Causil; Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Rockville, MD; Chicago Jewish Day School, Chicago, IL; Congregation Albert, Albuquerque, NM; Donna Klein Jewish Academy, Boca Raton, FL; DRS-HALB High School, Woodmere, NY; etheoreal / Darim Online    /jlearn20; Frisch School,  Paramus, NJ;  Gray Academy, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; Greenfield Hebrew Academy, Atlanta, GA; Hasten Hebrew Academy, Indianapolis, IN; Hebrew Academy Chabad, Huntington Beach, CA; Hillel Day School, Farmington Hills, MI; Jewish Community High School of the Bay, San Francisco, CA;  Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA; Leo Baeck Temple, Los Angeles, CA; Lesley University, Cambridge, MA; New Community Jewish High School, Los Angeles, CA; Ohr Chadash Academy, Baltimore, MD; PELIE, New York, NY; Perelman Jewish Day School, Greater Philadelphia, PA; Ramaz Lower School, New York, NY; Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, Elkins Park, PA; SAR Academy, Riverdale, NY; Sinai Akiba, Los Angeles, CA; Solomon Schechter / Lakeside Congregation, Northfield, IL; South Peninsula Hebrew Day School   Sunnyvale, CA; Southern California Yeshiva High, San Diego, CA; SpeedSkin, Los Angeles, CA; Temple Beth David, Palm Beach Gardens, FL; Temple Beth Torah, Melville, NY; Temple Beth Torah, Wellington, FL; Temple Solel, Cardiff-By-The-Sea (San Diego), CA; The Jewish Education Project, White Plains, NY, New York, NY; The Jewish Week, New York, NY; University of Maryland, College Park, MD; Yavneh Academy, Paramus, NJ; Yeshiva University New York, NY.

Staying Connected

In addition to the Jewish Educators Network Google group and Chai Tech wiki, we now have a Jewish Educators Network Facebook group for those who would like to connect that way.  Please join us, whether you have attended our network or not! The focus of our discussions is primarily on Jewish education and technology.

A list of attendees can be found here.

Session Summary

There were many themes and areas of interest that emerged out of our discussions:

  • assistive technologies
  • complementary education
  • curriculum integration
  • ebooks
  • global learning and collaboration
  • Hebrew language
  • iPads
  • Judaic apps
  • laptops
  • mobile learning
  • online learning
  • problem based learning
  • professional development for educators
  • SMARTBoards, interactive whiteboards
  • special needs
  • systemic change
  • teacher buy in
  • technology integration
  • videoconferencing
  • virtual environments

Phil Liff-Grieff facilitated our small group discussions.  We divided into 5 groups to discuss and share challenges that we face and to  suggest solutions. Two groups recorded their conversations which are shared below.

Many thanks to the following for their input into the session planning: Gloria Becker, Rebecca Egolf, Jodi Mishkin, Phil Liff-Grieff, Adena Raub, Elana Rivel, Phil Warmflash, and Dave Weinberg.

Also check out the recent article by Julie Wiener in The Jewish Week, “Jewish Day Schools Look for Online Savings

Notes from the Discussion Groups

Challenges and Responses – Recorded by Sara Ravid


  • Much of what is presented is free
  • Get computers donated
  • Nonprofits can tap into TechSoup for computer and software deals
  • Find someone in federal government procurement (they turn over every three years and will donate to schools

Determine strategic approaches that will be most beneficial; there’s no consensus on what successful Jewish education is

  • we need a consensus before knowing what technology is needed
  • need to that before we get the technology
  • see the endpoint and then work backwards
  • Phil Liff-Grieff’s delicious bookmarks:; find the best and cull down


  • lack of highway between all the organizations
  • how to share with them
  • no one-stop way to disseminate
  • no great way to share beyond 1
  • Legacy Heritage – SMART resources site, posting Jewish lessons for SMARTBoards
  • tech companies, angel investors
  • all day schools in a region meet and collaboratively purchase, etc. (e.g., Atlanta)
  • Fundraising is not a major problem or answer – get day schools to work together for government funding (hardware, software); use is limited by purpose

Period of Time

  • want students to create knowledge but we need to do that too

Crowd sourcing

  • nings all over the place
  • osmosis going on; that’s one of the answers (twitter, etc. as intermediary)

What collaboration tools should we use?

  • use of social media
  • body of knowledge, information
  • wisdom of field generated / spread naturally

Not marketing technology

  • Facebook is going crazy because there is a reason to go back
  • Contests, etc.
  • Marketing towards what? Different facets of education, different target populations; how to motivate them

Marketing Jewish education using social media

  • 1/99 ratio: 90% lurker, 9% somewhat active, 1% active
  • issue for Jewish organizations: know metrics trying to hit friends of friends
  • not pulled in on Facebook “please like/share” if do it
  • schools trying to do fundraising initiatives. Social media needs strategy to succeed.
  • scale: small social network as pilot for engagement

Experimenting with new things

  • history of start/stop too much
  • risk averse culture re: finances, time

Challenges and Responses – Recorded by Jodi Mishkin


  • in Philly a law firm upgrading donated all their laptops

In supplemental schools

  • getting teachers to go for additional technology training

Technology that is out that used to connect everyone (other communities)

  • connecting with a school in Israel to bring Hebrew to life
  • Skyping
  • understanding Hebrew through prayer and understanding it as a real language
  • Rosetta Stone possibility

Technology in Hebrew / programs in Hebrew not readily available

  • Davka Writer
  • is there an on line program to teach Hebrew

How do I know and use the tools that are out there?

  • how do I import Hebrew into comics
  • how do I use the tools that are available to teach curriculum
  • Google has good Hebrew Support (full Hebrew Support) [note: you can copy and past tests]
  • put Hebrew into Google presentations

Tons of Judaic resources on line

Khan learn at home, homework in classroom (“flipped classroom”)

How do we connect funders, educators, and technology creators?

  • we are always trying to catch up to society
  • what are our goals
  • we are teaching different “things” now
  • creating Jewish identity
  • how do you address all the needs and learning levels in a 3 hour block or less
  • the key is not to give information but it is to give them the fire:  teach how to learn; teach them to want to learn

Where you at ISTE? What are your take-aways? What will try out in the coming year? Share your ideas with us!

Going to ISTE? Come on over to our annual Jewish Educators Network “Birds of A Feather” meeting at ISTE. We’ve been meeting for the past 11 years and look forward to reconnecting with old friends and new, including members of the AVI CHAI Day School Fellows and PELIE Technology Fellows in complementary education.

When: Monday, June 27
Where: PACC 202A

Please check the ISTE program for any changes.

Be prepared to schmooze and network.  All are welcome! We look forward to seeing you there!

We’re also trying an experiment, inspired by Tom Barrett’s crowd sourced Interesting Ways… seriesHave a great idea or project you are working one? Share your idea or project here – in 1 slide.

Have a challenge you are noodling over regarding the integration of educational technology or social media into your work? Think you might have some expertise to share? Here’s a google doc to experiment with – feel free to play with it and share your challenges and/ or suggestions to help a fellow educator.

You don’t have to be at the conference to contribute – let’s see what we come up with!

We’ll also be updating our group wiki: ChaiTech.  Feel free to add information there.

About this blog

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