CAJE Brings the Community Together

Posted on 06/21/2019 @ 12:30 PM

CAJE and the Greater Miami Jewish Federation are thrilled to announce the official start of the Jewish Resource Specialist (JRS) Initiative, which brings together 5 different congregations and JCCs to expand engagement of their Jewish ECE families and deepen the Jewish learning within their ECE centers. 

Though Miami has a large percentage of parents who send their children to Jewish ECE programs, after the children graduate from early childhood education there is a significant family drop out from the Jewish institutions hosting these ECE programs according to the Federation’s 2014 population study. 

So not only are we losing these families’ connections to our Jewish communal institutions, but we are also losing an opportunity to open the doors for them to explore what their families’ Jewish journeys could look like. 

National research shows that when parents have young children:

  • they are the most open to connecting or reconnecting with the Jewish community;
  • they seek out advice and information beneficial to their children’s development;
  • they seek out friendships with parents in similar stages of life.

That makes the Early Childhood Center the perfect time for us to welcome these families into our congregations, Jewish Community Centers and our Miami Jewish community overall, since it is the optimal time when parents seek to explore the wisdom and traditions of Judaism and experience them within a network of peers.  By leveraging the talents and resources of our ECE teachers and professionals, we can most certainly have a positive influence on families as they take their next steps in their Jewish journeys.

The JRS program, originally developed in San Francisco (by the Early Childhood Education Initiative of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund and funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation), is being adapted and led here in Miami by CAJE with generous funding from our Miami Federation to address a concern highlighted in the Federation’s 2014 population study. 

Kol haKavod   - kudos to Miami’s Federation for realizing the importance of reaching out to our families with young children and supporting this 3-year pilot program.  Kol haKavod to the five ECE programs and their host organizations for rising to the challenge of engaging parents with young children.  Through their intentional work and documentation each step of the way, they are paving the way for transforming our Jewish ECEs into centers of engagement and significant learning that will impact their children, parents and teachers alike. 

Participating in the JRS pilot are: Dave and Mary Alper Jewish Community Center, Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, Beth Torah Benny Rok, Temple Beth Sholom and Temple Judea. 

The JRS Initiative is being directed by Joy Schandler, Director of Early Childhood and Congregational Education.  Contact Joy for more information:  joyschandler@caje-miami.org.

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