good morning. welcome to mosaic. i'm rabbi eric weiss. i'm honored to be your host this morning. across our countries, communities look for different ways to educate their youth and adults and indeed, all of us to a faith-based identity. we would like to invite you into a conversation with david waxburg, the ceo of jewish learning works to talk about this important perspective within the jewish community. welcome, david. >> thank you, eric. it's great to be here. >> and let's jump in and ask you what is jewish learning works? >> jewish learning works is what is called a communal agency for jewish education.
those are agencies that sprung up across north america about 100 years ago. they have been called thing like the bureau of jewishec or the central agency for jewish education. jewish morning works used to be called the bureau of jewish education and started earlier. it was called jewish education center and we changed our name about eight years ago. and the purpose of those organizations is to promote to advance jewish learning in the community. that's what it's always been. as schools begin to develop in the mid-20th century in san francisco and the bay area, the bureaus main strategy was to support those schools, to make education better. the way we made education better was by supporting the schools and providing training, professional development for educators, curricular materials, resources, and to a large degree, we still do that
because education is now much broader. it's not only in schools. we sent all sorts of informal education and support parents who are striving to bring jesharninginto their families and, we support a library. we have a jewish community library. we're the people of the books. so, a good chunk of our learning comes from reading. >> you know, you bring up an interesting historic point, which is that communities throughout the whole country established those kinds of education organizational structures. so, were they initially driven by an immigrant population and immigrant impulse? >> actually, if you go back 100 years, you had an enormous number of immigrants coming to this country, and getting right into american life and leaving what many consider to be jewish life. it's, it was the first time
leaving the staddle, or whatever community they lived in in russia, poland or ukraine. the first time they were able to participate in a ra so anthey embraced it wholeheartedly. the teaching then was primarily done by what was called malendon, teachers coming from the old country and using what ods. ey rkhere. old country and jewish they afraid of losin actually, if you read what they were writing around 1911, 1915, 1920, similar to what you may have seen in the last decade after the pew reports, for example: oh, my god issue we're losing people. we have to do something. ec was scene as the instruct to actually address this -- education was seen as the instrument to address this. you were modernizing public education, and so the idea was let's learn from the science of
pedagogy that is happening now all on the other hand us, and modernize our jewish education. how are we going to do that? let's create the bureaus that are going to become a kind of task force and each community to help modernize. that was the idea then and that gr i develop our skills. not only jewishly, but educationally. >> so, similar to, i think, every faith community, it's a way of, in some ways, struggling being a laboratory and experiment for the ways in which you are at the same time, american? and at the same time your culture, your faith background and how that informs one to the other to be really a resilient, productive citizen in both communities? >> i think that is really well- said. you know, jewish education through our ancient times, babylonia, under the romans and going forward into europe and elsewhere, jewish education has always had to evolve
because conditions changed. people had to figure out what is the best way to teach the stuff now. so it was with america. a whole different environment. and so, things had to change then and so it is in the 21st century bay area. things are changing again. so part of the job description of an organization like ours is to, and we have the luxury to do this, is to really look and understand what is changing, to read and to learn what are the most interesting new ideas coming out. then to share them, distribute them to practitioners, teachers and education leaders, others involved in teaching and later,. >> fascinating. david, we're going to take a quick break and come back to mosaic in just a moment.
good morning. welcome back to mosaic. i'm honored to be your host. we're in the middle of a wonderful conversation with david waxberg, the ceo of jewish learning works. welcome back. >> thank you. >> what is new at jewish learning works. what is going on? >> i mentioned three areas we t development, supporting educators. last year, we worked with more than 1,000 educators in the bay area. i didn't know we had 1,000
educators in the bay area. they came through our programs, our fellowships, webinars. workshops. we worked with parents. we , g other things, we have a newsletter every month on everything jewish in the community. we have about 2,000 households that subscribe to that to try to see what is out there for their families. ure concierge -- concierge started something last year, which i love, she calls them shabat labs, holiday labs. she gathers a small number of families and teaches people who want to learn. it happened because one parents we would like to do more but we don't know the secret handshake. >> i love that, right. >> that so describes what it's often like for people. i think a lot of times people get this message in jewish community i am not okay. so, what deborah does, she
works with a small number of parents each time on a friday night or a holiday, and teaches them the basics to give them information, obviously, and give them confidence. you can do is as it said in duerdonomy. you can do. this the second thing weco is empower parent -- we do is empower parents to bring jewish life and learning into their home. the third thing, we have a library. we circulate about 8,000 books and media every year. with a thriving public programs with authors and artists, musicians, we had over 3,000 people coming to our programs last year. those programs are all thriving n. terms of your question, what is the latest? as i mentioned, education keeps needing to change because conditions change. and we're come to understand now two decades into this
century, we see how some of the legacies of 20th century thinking and jewish educatn nor e beenforging a path in terms of what we need to be doing today to really make education work. for all of us. and we finally feel like we have learned enough that we want to share that, which is why we're going to gather a summit in january to really look at the new paths and jewish education. to try and turn the corner and really implement a 21st century to jewish learning. we call it a summit. sometimes we speak with educators. they say i get it. i would like my late leadership to understand this or my rabbi as well. they get it and they want others. so we want to bring in all of the stakeholders together to start coming around a new understanding of jewish learning. >> when is this summit?
>> the summit is january 13th. an all day gathering at the hyatt regency. people don't have to come all day. >> in san francisco? >> in san francisco. our key note mol, a clinical psychologist whose latest book "voice lessons for parents" really helps parents understand how to talk with and lessen to their children. she's a brilliant psychologist and often brought in jewish teaching into her family psychology. she is the key noter, but we have close to 20 experts coming from all across north america. some of the motivateef minds in jewish education talking about how they are forging the new paths in jewish education. >> and who would you like to come to that day? >> we want educators. by educators, i mean teachers. educational leaders, heads of schools, directors of congregational schools, informal educators, professi ea
educators. educators across the board. we want parents to come, clergy, leaders, philanthropist and grandparents. our grandparents is a big new thing for us. grandparenting, it turns out, is a really important element in jewish learning. and and more and more grandparents are getting involved in the education of the grandchildren and sharing their legacies and love of jewish tradition and knowledge of grandchildren. helping them navigate the complexities of doing that and the intergenerational environments is something we're starting to do. >> that is wonderful. we're going to take a break in just a moment. i know it's a big question, but what are some of the things you want someone at the end of that day to leave with. >> great question. i want people to leave with one of the following: huh, i hadn't
thought about jewish education in that way. this gives me a new insight or huh, i actually learned about some methods that i can implement in my classroom. or, i saw someone doing something that i think is great. i am not ready to implement it in my classroom, but i learned some of the steps i need to take in order to do that. or, i took something away that i wanted to discuss with my colleagues, with my rabbi, with my lay committee that oversees jewish education so that we can really begin to take on some of the new ideas that are so. those are some of the takeaways. >> wonderful. we're going to take a quick break and come back to mosaic in just a moment.
good morning. welcome back to mosaic. i'm rabbi eric weiss, honored to be your host this morning. we're in the middle of a wonderful conversation of the state of jewish education with david waxberg, the ceo of jewish learning works. welcome back, david. >> good to be here. >> continuing our conversation,im curious to know in the arc of your tenure at jewish learning works, which is 13 years. >> my bar bar mitzvah. >> it's a big question. what are the ways in which you have seen the issue of jewish education change in different ways in the community. i know some things recycle and spiral up. some things fundamental change and are different. i wonder what your reflections are in that way. >> great question. when i started, it was the hide
of what i would call the continuity boom. it was the community and community leaders expressing concern that we were losing people. as i mentioned in the last segment, echoing what we saw hundred years earlier. the question is what do you do about that? there was an e norm us focus on jewish identity. light create a strong jewish identity and we won't lose people. the problem was what is actually jewish identity mean? i think often people were attracted by a shortcut. let's get people to, let's create a shell called jewish identity. it doesn't matter what informs the identity. as long as they feel like they're strong jews, everything will be fine. we have written that often, the emphasis was on allegiance and less on why you were standing.
among the problems with is that, is if there is no understanding the allegiance is ephemeral, it's not going to last. historically, jewish education is about teaching us how to think jewishly and act jewishly and inthbeuse of of the challenges in america, coming to america in the 20th century, and also the legacy of the holocaust, there was such fear of losing people. it was less of a focus on understanding, how to think, live, and act jewishly. and more on, well, let's create this identity so that people stay jewish without necessarily understanding what is involved. i think now in the 21st century, that is changing. the younger generation doesn't feel the same sense of obligation, for example, that i did growing up.
i had a plaque. my grandmother's kitchen. there wa. said in hebrew, trans what have you do for your people and your land. that was up there every day. so i kind of internalized a sense adult that i understood there was something in it for me. so one of the charges, to answer your question, is that we're trying to advance jedoesn obligation and certainly celebrates people belonging. at the same time, can demonstrate for students and their families, the value of what is in it for us. that actually jewish learning opens the door to a loaf of bite, wisdom, joy and cel-- of beauty, wisdom, joy and celebration. it's not about do this because we need you. right. i grew up thinking i have to be jewish because i should because i am supposed to.
>> uh-huh. e and not because i get cause h trying to celebrate that value without losing the sense of belonging. >> we're going to take a break in just a moment. i am wondering as you're talking, i am thinking we had this kind of arc of understanding. >> youdaism anyway -- judeaism. the relationship to rah and to ourselves as peoplehood. >> yes. >> and i am wondering, it's a big question. i am wondering what your reflection would be about how faith has evolved in a post holocaust world. to this point now, where in a jewish identity, where you don't have to believe in god to claim jewish identity, is there anything you reflect on and sort of look what is the role
relationship transsendent that may complement or be different than relationship to textual life relationship to people living in the community. i know this is a big question. >> i love the question. >> i wanted to know if you have anything to say from your experience. >> i want to say that i love that you contextualize it with the word relationships. they're hugely important for us and it's a core principal in jewish learning. buber talked about four relationships for the students. relationship to the text and teacher ands peers. >> thank you so much. we're going to continue the conversation in just a moment here on mosaic.
in god. i -- role ever of faith in god. i wondered if there is anything else you wanted to add to that. >> two comments. the first, you don't have to have a profession of faith to be jewish. that is a great thing, you know. as it said in tara, we'll do and we'll hear, right. and so just action, we don't have to have that faith. having said that, i am a big fan of art green, raabeee arthur green who writes a lot on the topic. one of the things he said is the word god gets in the way for pole. if you don't like the word god, think of a different word. the fact is that a connection with the divine, a connection with the universe or our spiritual selves with that piece of us that is still small, there are so many different ways of thinking about and talking about faith and talking about god. sometimes we're way too restrictive. it's really important, an important part of
spto fi their connection, their way in and not force them into a too constricted channel, language or otherwise. >> you remind me as a rabbi in the community, there are a lot of people, regardless of their age, who are shy and hung are you at the same time for conversation about god and it's not necessarily that they want to profess faith as they said, but want room to talk to explore and to why you were stand, to educate themselves in that realm. that i have a certain kind of, let's say, attraction to something that is transcended beyond themselves. i wonder, i wonder why for some reason in our jewish community, the word god in and of itself, seems to be for some people,
already a stop light more than a green light. why are people shy about it, you know, in their hunger. >> a lot of reasons. that is i great question, eric. partly, we live in christian world in western society, even though it's secular. it has the legacies of that. what that comes with are the very anthropomorphic imagery and concepts that don't resonate for people. they haven't necessarily been exposed to different ways of thinking about transcendence. i think that many people have an experience from their youth, a coercive experience with regard to god. i was told i have to believe this or i was told i have to proifess this, right. i had a class when i was a teenager on the 13 principles of faith. i told my rabbi, i am having difficulty, i am struggling with number one. believe in god.
right. i was 14 and this is developmentally appropriate. i did ever day, struggled with this. he said if you can't buy into, number one, you can't call yourself a jew. i was out of there. that was my last class. >> interesting. >> you know, a part of it is helping people find their way, you know. we used to have a embodied jewish learning component. it spun off but we have people getting to this transcendence through embodied jewish learning. tora yoga. >> believe it or not, we'll have to put a comment in the conversation and encourage people to talk about this on their own. as we say goodbye to you, how do people locate jewish learning works? >> find us at www.jewishlearningworks.org. that is our website. if you go there, you will find right off the bat, information about elevate. our sum met on january 13th. it's for anyone who cares
. a lot of lingering questions this morning after two kids were killed in front of an elementary school. what we know so far. >> hundreds of people gather to remember a student killed in a high school in l.a. we'll take you to the celebration of life in santa clarita. >> and pg&e drowning a new wildfire claims. fire victims fear the utility will barely have to pay. it's 6:00 a.m. on this sunday, november 24th. thank you for joining us. >> union city police are trying to determine who shot two boys outside of an elementary school. >> both died from gunshot wounds yesterday. kpix 5s betty yu reports this