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Jim Joseph Foundation gives $12 million to seminaries to improve Jewish education

The Jim Joseph Foundation will give $12 million to three Jewish seminaries to help train new Jewish educators across the Jewish denominational spectrum, the foundation announced Tuesday.

The grants will be given over a five year period to the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary, the Reform Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and the Modern Orthodox Yeshiva University. The first round of grants will go to financial aid for students who are pursuing careers in education at each of the seminaries. The foundation will give $700,000 to each institution for each of the next five academic years for scholarships for future educators, and then $563,000 for YU, $221,900 for JTS, and $212,110 for HUC in the 2009/2010. The foundation also has stipulated that the institutions must collaborate to develop innovative best practices and technologies for advancing Jewish teaching.

The Jim Joseph Foundation will give $12 million to three Jewish seminaries to help train new Jewish educators across the Jewish denominational spectrum, the foundation announced Tuesday.

The grants will be given over a five year period to the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary, the Reform Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and the Modern Orthodox Yeshiva University.

The first round of grants will go to financial aid for students who are pursuing careers in education at each of the seminaries.

The foundation will give $700,000 to each institution for each of the next five academic years for scholarships for future educators, and then $563,000 for YU, $221,900 for JTS, and $212,110 for HUC in the 2009/2010.

The foundation also has stipulated that the institutions must collaborate to develop innovative best practices and technologies for advancing Jewish teaching.

“Our commitment is to Jewish education, and the partnership now established with these three institutions through these grants should contribute greatly to advancing this cause,” the president of the foundation, Al Levitt, said in a press release.  “It is an exciting development for all who care about improving the quality of Jewish life. We’re simply playing our role in helping these institutions, and the educators they educate, reach their full potential and positively shape the lives of Jewish youth.” 

Here is the press release:

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Jim Joseph Foundation Announces $12 Million in Grants to HUC, YU and JTS to Advance Jewish Education
Historic investment intended to increase the number and quality of Jewish educators

San Francisco – In a bold effort to increase the number of future educators and to improve the quality of professional preparation and Jewish education they receive, nearly $12 million in grants are going to the three leading training institutions for Jewish educators.

The Jim Joseph Foundation (JJF) today announced that it has awarded nearly $12 million in grants to The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC), and Yeshiva University (YU).  The initial grants, to be administered over a five-year period, will be used as financial aid for students pursuing education degrees or certification in programs that prepare them to work with Jewish youth and young adults, and to assist each institution in planning new and enhanced programs that will attract more educators to the field.

The grants represent the launch of a long-term investment the foundation plans to make in these three grand institutions.

“The quality of future heads of school, teachers and educational leaders in Jewish education will improve directly because of this funding,” says JTS Chancellor Arnold Eisen. “They will contribute greatly to the future of North American Jewry. And with this incredibly generous grant, the Jim Joseph Foundation is strengthening our institutions and giving a huge vote of confidence as we work to enhance Jewish education in the coming decades.”

The grants will provide $700,000 to each institution for each of the next five academic years for scholarships for future educators.  The remaining grant funds will be divided among the institutions – $563,000 for YU, $221,900 for JTS, and $212,110 for HUC – to be used in the 2009/2010 academic year for planning purposes and innovative programs that will both seed and sustain the field.  The three institutions will work to foster best practices and collaborate on projects when possible to ensure creative new directions and a renewed commitment to the education of future Jewish educators.

In addition, the foundation has agreed to explore support for inter-institutional collaborations that evidence promise for directly augmenting the educational enterprise across institutions.  Two potential areas for such development are new technologies for distance learning and marketing of Jewish education as a desirable professional career.

“The future of Jewish life depends on a Jewish people who know and own their story,” Yeshiva University President Richard Joel comments.  “Jim Joseph’s extraordinary ongoing partnership and investment ensures that the best and the brightest are equipped to educate our children and to advance Jewish life.  More than that, these four institutions can become a powerful advocacy voice to remind and encourage the Jewish community of the centrality of Jewish knowledge to Jewish life, and the essential nature of quality Jewish education to the advancement of the Jewish people.”

Unique to the grants is also the unprecedented collaboration this partnership represents.  To facilitate this cooperation, JJF will convene a steering committee comprised of the leadership of the three institutions.  This group will monitor progress of the grant implementation and plan for additional initiatives that will be pursued with JJF’s support.  They also will explore together how to expand distance learning, marketing, and recruitment.

Adds Rabbi David Ellenson of HUC, “This grant addresses some of the most glaring needs in the American Jewish community.  JJF understands that attracting and educating quality Jewish educators in our institutions is critical to instilling in today’s Jewish youth a strong Jewish identity and maintaining a vibrant American Jewish community.  Increasing the quantity and quality of Jewish educators, and giving them the tools to do their jobs effectively, will have a profound and immediate impact on Jewish life,” he says.

The Shimon Ben Joseph Foundation, commonly known as the Jim Joseph Foundation, is committed to the legacy of its founder, Jim Joseph, z”l, devoted exclusively to supporting education of Jewish youth in the United States.  Jim Joseph was a dedicated Jewish philanthropist who cared passionately about the education of Jewish children, youth, and young adults.  He believed that focusing on young people was the best way to preserve a strong Jewish faith and proud heritage, thereby ensuring success of the Jewish people for the future.

After completing his master’s degree at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Jim Joseph began a highly successful career acquiring and developing commercial and residential property for his company, Interland Corporation. As he built his business, Joseph donated generously to a wide variety of Jewish institutions and organizations and formed the Jim Joseph Foundation in 1987.  Jim Joseph passed away December 19, 2003 and was buried by his family in the Jewish tradition in Israel.

The Foundation’s Board of Directors and its foundation professionals are building on the philanthropic mission that Jim Joseph pursued – to foster compelling, effective learning experiences for young Jews in the United States.  In accordance with Jim Joseph’s view, the Foundation recognizes that Jewish learning takes place in a multitude of settings, including but not limited to day schools, camps, youth groups, congregations, college campuses, service learning experiences, community centers, and the like.

“Our commitment is to Jewish education, and the partnership now established with these three institutions through these grants should contribute greatly to advancing this cause,” says foundation President Al Levitt.  “It is an exciting development for all who care about improving the quality of Jewish life. We’re simply playing our role in helping these institutions, and the educators they educate, reach their full potential and positively shape the lives of Jewish youth.” 

And posits JJF Executive Director Chip Edelsberg, “The Jim Joseph Foundation is confident these three institutions will produce highly qualified educators who will inspire a next generation of young Jews to value Jewish learning.  The promise of this initiative is that it will enrich students in their respective programs of study, strengthen each individual institution, and enable us to infuse the field with talented educators whose collective good work will positively impact the world of Jewish education.”

 

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