William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education Receives Major Grant from the Covenant Foundation

Grant to Aid Development of Congregational-School Curriculum for the Twenty-First Century

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950
Email: nijacobson@jtsa.edu

February 5, 2010, New York, NY

The William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education at The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) is the recipient of a major grant from The Covenant Foundation.

The $250,000 grant will be used to develop, implement, and evaluate a new, twenty-first-century curriculum for students in third to fifth grades in Conservative congregational schools.

Recognizing that the new century poses new challenges and possibilities for Jewish congregational schools—where most American Jewish children receive their Jewish education—JTS and Foundation officials said a new curriculum appropriate to emerging needs of children and their families and leveraging new technologies is critical.

“This generous $250,000 grant will enable The Davidson School to conduct a serious deliberation on the most effective approaches to congregational school education for our times,” said Barry Holtz, dean of The Davidson School and the Theodore and Florence Baumritter Professor of Jewish Education at JTS. “Participants will include experts in the realms of educational technology, curriculum design, pedagogy, and Jewish studies.”

Officials cited social networking and the Internet as major advances that provide new avenues for meaningful, effective learning and educational collaboration across time zones and institutional lines.

“The twenty-first century presents Jewish education with unprecedented opportunities and challenges,” said Dr. Deborah D. Miller, associate director of the Melton Research Center for Jewish Education at JTS. “Nowhere are these greater than in the congregational schools, which serve hundreds of thousands of Jewish children.

“The Davidson School is gratified to have earned the support of The Covenant Foundation to investigate the best means of educating young Jews in grades three to five, and to create curriculum for third grade. This three-year effort will involve thinkers and practitioners in the areas of technology, curriculum, child development, informal education, and design.”

The first stages of the initiative will focus on a new third-grade curriculum, with new curricula for the fourth and fifth grades to follow after evaluation and pilot use of the new curriculum in selected schools.

The grant is one of thirteen, totaling nearly $800,000, just announced by the New York–based Covenant Foundation as part of its mission to support, advance, and recognize excellence and impact in Jewish educational settings.

“The Covenant Foundation is injecting vitality into Jewish educational realms, promoting and encouraging new ways of thinking, supporting unique ways of interacting within and beyond the community, and growing Jewish community into the new century,” said Eli N. Evans, chairman of the Foundation’s board of directors. “The potential of this new set of grant recipients is future-oriented and significant in all respects.”

“Our new crop of grantees are generators of ideas and approaches of great promise for success, effect and transformative replication elsewhere,” said Harlene Winnick Appelman, executive director of the Foundation. “This initiative of The Davidson School is a shining example of that.”

The Davidson School offers both master's and doctoral degrees, including a new executive doctorate. The Davidson School works closely with the Melton Research Center for Jewish Education and its associated projects; the Rebecca and Israel Ivry Prozdor High School program; the Day School Leadership Training Institute; and the Leadership Institute for Congregational School Educators. For more information about the Davidson School or any of its programs, please call (212) 678-8030 or visit jtsa.edu/davidson.

The Covenant Foundation (www.covenantfn.org) is a program of the Crown Family Foundation and the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA).