Association of Jewish Libraries 52nd Annual Conference

The Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) will hold its 52nd annual conference entitled “The Sky’s the Limit: The Next Generation of Judaica Librarianship” from┬áJune 19-21, 2017. ┬áLibrarians, archivists, scholars, educators, authors, and others are all welcome.

Presenters and topics to be announced.

The 2017 conference will have a special focus on the international nature of AJL and the future of Judaica Librarianship.

Interested? Know someone who might be? More info can be found at www.jewishlibraries.org.

Please share this information with interested parties. If you know of any other ways we can share this information with the community, please contact me at aadler@nshahs.org.

Prof. Saul Wachs Retiring After 42 Years at Gratz College

Dr. Saul Wachs, the Rosaline B. Feinstein Professor of Education and Liturgy, is retiring at the age of 85, after 42 years of teaching at Gratz College. Described as a legend within the field of Jewish education, Dr. Wachs will be honored with a tribute at the Gratz annual gala, an honorary doctorate at commencement and a scholarship prize created in his name. He has also been granted emeritus status by the Gratz College Board of Governors.

Dr. Saul Wachs

Dr. Saul Wachs

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Lots New at NewCaje Jewish Educators Conference

This is not your Hebrew School experience. NewCaje is the conference where Jewish educators, famous and little known, come to teach one another all that’s new, deep and meaningful, and emerging in the rapidly changing field of afternoon school Jewish education.

More after the jump.
Session titles include lots of technology:

  • “How to use Facebook to teach the Amidah”
  • “Torah Tweets”

and youth culture:

  • Hip Hop Chevruta

and empowering methodologies:

  • Jewish Montessori

and tachlis about new, effective methods for teaching Hebrew, administration, teacher supervision, re-visioning Jewish education and hundreds of sessions more.

The networking opportunities have proven incredibly valuable and well-structured via affinity groups at meals. Evening events were first class, standing ovation showcases including stunning new talent and many headliners like Peninnah Schram, Sam Glaser, Naomi Leis, Kol b’Seder, the Baal Shem Tones, Doug Cotler, Ellen Allard, Saul Kay, & comedian Kenny Ellis, and many more.

Also widely on-stage and visible is this year’s team of Jewish storytellers in honor of Peninnah Schram and the release of Mitzvah Stories: Seeds for Inspiration and Learning, published by Reclaiming Judaism Press in her honor. (pictured with Peninnah Schram are Cherie Karo Schwartz, Jennifer Rudick-Zunikoff, Rabbi Dan Gordon, Gerald Fierst, Rabbi Janie Grackin, Penninah Schram and Rabbi Goldie Milgram.  

We’ll be posting footage from some of the sessions during the coming week — be in touch if you have innovations to share next year or a question or research topic in Jewish education and want to know to whom to reach out. Kol haKavod to Cherie Koller-Fox for the NewCaje renaissance!

FELS Recognizes Twelve Honorees at Gala

Federation Early Learning Services (FELS) recently recognized the dedication of 12 honorees at its 100th birthday celebration at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. The 2011 gala honorees were: Sandra Axelrod, Ellen Kolodner, David Pudlin, Scott Barsky, Robert Clair, Mary Bert Gutman, Rita Lifson, Kay Lokoff, Ronald Perilstein, Gail Rosenberg, Charlotte Rosenthal and Joyce Straus, who was honored posthumously. The 12 honorees, have been an integral part of FELS’ growth and development. Each received well-deserved praise at the “Love Our Kids” Gala on June 6, 2011.

FELS has provided quality child care and early education services to residents of the Philadelphia region for 100 years. Since its inception, FELS has expanded to eight centers and three public school sites and now serves more than 1,000 students yearly. The local centers are: the Terri Lynne Lokoff Early Learning Center in Ambler; the Mary Bert Gutman Early Learning Center in Melrose Park; Kol Ami Nursery School in Elkins Park; Kehillah Early Learning Center in Wallingford; K’tonton School for Young Children in Broomall; and Buerger Early Learning Center, Samuel Paley Early Learning Center and Lassin Early Learning Center, all located in Philadelphia.

More after the jump.
The Gift of Giving

Each of the 12 honorees were recognized for the time and financial resources they have devoted so that the children and family served by FELS could have better opportunities, economic self-sufficiency and an understanding of what it means to be Jewish. These esteemed individuals, and their commitment to FELS, are detailed below:

Sandra Axelrod, Elkins Park, has been actively involved with FELS for 20 years, serving as board chair, vice president and gala chair. She is also a past gala honoree. Axelrod established the Mom Mom’s Kitchen Fund in memory of her mother, Sophie Solomon.

Ellen Kolodner, Rydal, has spent many years on the FELS board, serving as board chair, first vice president and vice president. She has also served on the Executive, New Business, PR & Marketing, Child Advocacy and Annual Meeting Committees. In total, she has supported FELS for 22 years.

David Pudlin, Bryn Mawr, a 34-year veteran of FELS, became involved with Federation Day Care Services  in 1977 and has worked with the organization ever since. He has been vice president and gala honorary co-chair. Pudlin has served on the Executive, Budget and Finance, Development, Nominating, Personnel Practices, Gala and Ad Book Committees.

Scott Barsky, Dresher, has played a significant role in FELS’ success. With 25 years of dedication to the  nonprofit, he has been board chair, treasurer, gala chair and gala honoree. Barsky has also served on the Executive, Budget and Finance (chair) and Operations Committees. His board presidency was marked by active involvement with the Federation, which enabled him to sustain and strengthen the agency/Federation relationship.

Robert Clair, Longport, NJ, has contributed 33 years to FELS and many hours of volunteer work. He has served as gala chair and has been a gala honoree. He was instrumental in raising funds for the Northern Hebrew Say nursery (renamed Lassin Early Learning Center). Clair later established the Robert and Hope Clair Children’s Environment Fund and helped fund a computer program at the Lassin Center. He is always eager to give the FELS children the best. He said that half his honor belongs to his wife, Hope, who has always been a partner and supporter.

Mary Bert Gutman, Lafayette Hill, is an icon in the FELS community. Her 58 years of dedication and enthusiasm for lending a hand to children has made an impact on everyone at FELS. She has been board chair and a gala honoree. Gutman has served on the Executive, New Business, Programs and Services, Marketing & Public Relations and Development Committees. She is a visionary thinker who has had a profound effect on the agency. “We morphed, we merged, we matured, and now we are reaching 100,” Gutman said. “It has been an incredible journey and I am proud to have participated.”

Rita Lifson, Rydal, an active FELS volunteer for 34 years, has served on the Annual Meeting and Program & Planning Special Events Committees. She also has been the board liaison to the Friends of Samuel Paley Auxiliary. Lifson established the Burton and Rita Lifson Staff Development Fund in memory of her husband.

Kay Lokoff, Philadelphia, became involved with FELS 23 years ago. She and her husband, Fred, founded the Terri Lynne Lokoff Early Learning Center in 1987 to honor their daughter Terri’s memory and her passion for young children and the Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Foundation, which works to improve the quality of care for all children and child-care teachers. Kay Lokoff has served on the Development Committee and as chair of the Annual Meeting Committee.

Ronald Perilstein, Narberth, an active board member for 15 years, has been board chair, first vice president, gala chair and recording secretary. Perilstein has served on the Executive, Leadership, Operations, Nominating, Human Resources, Gala, and Strategic Planning Committees. He has helped the board to identify and focus on priorities and to take reasonable risks for fulfilling FELS’ mission.

Gail Rosenberg, Elkins Park, a past vice president, gala chair and gala honoree, prides herself on her long-term commitment to FELS. She has devoted more than 38 years to the organization. An early childhood educator, Rosenberg understood the importance of making a long term commitment to FELS. She is credited with identifying and recruiting family and friends for the board whose contributions have been invaluable.

Charlotte Rosenthal, Rydal, has devoted the past 28 years to FELS. She has served as past gala chair and gala honoree. She also has chaired the Annual Meeting, Marketing & PR, Development, Program and Service Committees.

Joyce Straus (deceased), formerly of Rydal, left her positive mark on FELS’ history and contributed to its legacy. She devoted 46 years to the organization that she held close to her heart. Straus was board chair, vice president, treasurer and gala honoree. She served on the Executive, Development, Program & Services, Gala and Ad Book Committees. With her passing, FELS lost a dear friend and advocate.

“These amazing individuals have all given so generously to FELS. They understand that quality child care makes good economic sense and creates the kind of future citizens we all want in our communities,” stressed FELS President and CEO Maddy Malis.

A Night to Remember

More than 300 guests attended FELS’ 100th birthday gala, where the organization paid tribute to its past and celebrated its future through retrospective photos and heart-warming presentations. The event and accompanying tribute book raised $286,000 which will be used to support its commitment to provide “The Best of Everything, From the Beginning” to FELS kids.

About FELS

The history of FELS goes back to 1911 with three nurseries known as the Downtown Hebrew Day Nursery, the Strawberry Mansion Day Nursery and the Northern Hebrew Day Nursery, all located within a 15-mile radius of Center City and all committed to serve working parents.  The nursery leaders were immigrant women familiar with the languages and customs of the families who enrolled their children in these centers. Although the volunteer staff was largely untrained, this did not dilute their dedication and enthusiasm for nurturing the infants, toddlers and preschoolers who were entrusted to their care.  Since its inception, FELS has expanded to eight centers and three public school sites and now serves more than 1,000 students yearly. The local centers are: the Terri Lynne Lokoff Early Learning Center in Ambler; the Mary Bert Gutman Early Learning Center in Melrose Park; Kol Ami Nursery School in Elkins Park; Kehillah Early Learning Center in Wallingford; K’tonton School for Young Children in Broomall; and Buerger Early Learning Center, Samuel Paley Early Learning Center and Lassin Early Learning Center, all located in Philadelphia.  

One Hundred Years of Caring

 Federation Early Learning Services (FELS) Takes a Look Back

— by Leza Raffel

From small beginnings come great things. It’s a simple saying, but one that so accurately captures the history of Federation Early Learning Services (FELS), which this year is celebrating 100 years of providing child care and early childhood education in the Philadelphia Region, as well as age-appropriate introductions to Jewish traditions, values and rituals.

FELS’s roots are deep and neighborhood-centric. From humble beginnings, FELS has expanded to include 8 centers, 3 public school sites, and resources for more than one thousand students in Montgomery, Delaware and Philadelphia Counties. Many former students and familiesconsider the FELS family to be part of their extended family and appreciate the support and assistance that the FELS staff provided during difficult times. Equally impressive is the number of teachers who have remained committed and active with FELS. President and CEO Maddy Malis began her tenure in the classroom and, along with past executives such as Norman S. Finkel, have been instrumental in guiding FELS’s evolution into one of the leading child-care organizations in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

More after the jump. 

The Early Years: How It Began

The history of FELS began in 1911 with three nurseries: the Downtown Hebrew Day Nursery, the Strawberry Mansion Day Nursery and the Northern Hebrew Day Nursery, all located within a 15-mile radius of Center City and all committed to serve working parents. Families enrolled in the centers suffered from economic hardship caused by death, desertion, disability or divorce. The nursery leaders were immigrant women familiar with the languages and customs of the families attending the centers. Although the volunteer staff was largely untrained, they were dedicated and enthusiastic caregivers.

But the centers were often plagued by financial issues; survival was a struggle. Long before fund-raising became part of the framework of institutions, early directors implemented their unique style of acquiring donations: door-to-door solicitations and food donations from pushcart vendors. Economic necessity eventually caused some of these centers to become constituent agencies under the auspices of the Federation of Jewish Charities (FJC), now known as the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

Changes Followed WWII

Following World War II, veterans and their families began to move beyond Center City as FHA loans, inexpensive land and the automobile became more accessible. Many young, larger families were lured to the outskirts of the city and beyond. The demand for child care in these areas increased. Although the Downtown Children’ss Center remained in South Philadelphia, Strawberry Mansion Day Care Center relocated to the Northeast to meet the needs of the growing Jewish population and eventually became Samuel Paley Day Care Center.

With the construction of Paley, the leadership had a canvas upon which to design their future. “Our goal was to create a first-class child care center,” noted Mary Bert Gutman, the first president of the Northeast Day Care Services. “We traveled across the country to find programs with the physical attributes and programming concepts that were essential to great education,” she added.

The center, opening in 1966 with an initial enrollment of 100 preschoolers and students, offered enrichment programs for children, support services and family life education for parents, and Jewish programming for children and parents. Enrollment eventually increased to 240 children. In 1973 when the Downtown Center merged with Paley, Federation Day Care Services (FDCS) was born.

FDCS provided an array of services. It was a place where children learned, where families received the support they needed to find jobs, and where women learned to complete their taxes and, for many, to deal with divorce in a healthy way. FDCS’s new model of child care employed trained teachers, social workers and experienced administrators who were well versed in current early childhood education and counseling techniques. At its height, FDCS served one thousand children.

The Times Are Changing

Just as American society experienced a cultural revolution in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, FDCS was also undergoing rapid change. The increase in the number of working parents and the availability of public funding for child care accelerated expansion. Additional centers and satellite sites were opened to meet the demand. FDCS expanded to Montgomery, Delaware and Bucks Counties where the Jewishpopulation was thriving.

As FDCS moved to the Philadelphia suburbs, it continued to offer educational programs designed to meet and nurture the unique needs of students while fostering a respect and understanding of Jewish identity. Enrollment remained strong. In 2003, FDCS changed its name to Federation Early Learning Services (FELS) to stress the agency’s commitment to providing quality early childhood education.

A Century of Caring and Excellence

In one hundred years, many things have changed at FELS. The small neighborhood centers have blossomed into a strong cultural and educational force in the region. But what has remained the same is the spirit and determination that characterized the early years. For over a century, more than 40,000 children and their families have been enriched by FELS. FELS continues to operate as a warm and inclusive gateway to all families seeking a place in the Jewish community. It just goes to show, from small things, big things one day come.