Thursday, February 5, 2009

New Jobs for Jewish Education's Future


As the economic situation continues to worsen, the Jewish educational scene continues to be hard-hit. Some agencies and foundations have folded, most others are in various degrees of downsizing, synagogues are (reluctantly) merging.

As the smoke clears over the next few years, it is my belief that some very new types of jobs will be created for those in Jewish educational work. In some cases, new job titles will be illogical combinations of jobs simply to cut costs (example: the Cantor / Educator jobs, which may work in a few cases, appears poised to make a comeback after many years).
Real innovation, on the other hand, could emerge from this mess.
  • What would it be like if "teachers" titles were replaced with "Jewish family life coaches", as has been done in a few places?

  • What if youth advisors became "directors of youth connectedness", responsible for all areas of teen connections - formal, informal, face-to-face, virtual?

  • What if day camp directors became "directors of Jewish experiential engagements", responsible for all types of experiential learning?

In a few of the more innovative places, these and other creative roles for educators are being implemented. Rather than haphazardly combining jobs and downsizing without a plan, this is a great time to remove obstacles to collaboration and to outside-the-box thinking about our Jewish educational profession.

Let's see the response to this crisis be one of creativity and of building the profession.