Philly Program Grows and Succeeds in San Fran

Jane Slotin, executive director of Partnership for Effective Learning and Innovative Education (PELIE); Helene Tigay, former executive director of the Auberbach Central Agency for Jewish Education in Philadelphia; and David Waksburg, executive director of the Bureau of Jewish Education in San Francisco, (BJE) at the BJE’s Annual Celebration. Photo credit: Yulia Goldshtrakh

PELIE Recognized for Bringing Successful Jewish Education Program to San Francisco

— by Katie Stinchon

Recently, more than 200 lay leaders, clergy, educators, and volunteers gathered at the Bureau of Jewish Education’s Annual Celebration  to honor five congregations for participating in a pilot program called NESS (Nurturing Excellence in Synagogue Schools), which initially took root in Philadelphia before being expanded by PELIE (Partnership for Effective Learning and Innovative Education) in San Francisco. PELIE was also recognized for their work transforming Jewish education at the local synagogues.

PELIE is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve complementary Jewish education in North America, change the perception the public has about the field, and attract new investors.

In 2008, PELIE awarded a grant to the Bureau of Jewish Education in San Francisco to bring NESS to Congregation Beth Jacob in Redwood City, Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto, Congregation Rodef Sholom in San Rafael, Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco and Peninsula Temple Shalom in Burlingame. Since rolling out NESS in these schools, enrollment has increased 22 percent.

The NESS process engages parents as partners and results in a shared conversation throughout each synagogue. It creates religious school education that is aligned with the mission and values of the synagogue, and that ultimately educates parents alongside their children. NESS consultants provide on-site intervention and work with synagogue lay and professional leadership to develop custom-design plans to fit the needs of each synagogue. The goal of NESS is to provide Jewish youth with a meaningful educational experience in order to foster and develop a positive Jewish identity and increase community involvement. Its key components include adapting best practices for teachers from both secular and Judaic standpoints; professional training; school assessments; and leadership, organizational, and curriculum development.

Founded in 2007, The Partnership for Effective Learning and Innovative Education (PELIE) works to improve complementary (part time) Jewish education in multiple settings throughout the nation. PELIE accomplishes this through advocating, consulting, and researching the field; by highlighting and adapting models that work; and by funding with local partners to bring change to their communities. PELIE also works to bring technology into Jewish education along with a variety of other “tools” – assessment, organizational, and experiential – to impact the ever-changing field of complementary Jewish education.


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