New Name, New Look For Ed Agency


What’s in a name?

Until last week, the name for New York’s central Jewish education agency was a hyphenated jumble of letters and syllables inherited from its newly married parents: BJENY-SAJES.

But the $12 million group just unveiled a shorter, sleeker new identity: The Jewish Education Project.

“We wanted to describe what we’re doing and not who we are,” said the group’s executive vice president, Deborah Friedman. “This says clearly we’re about Jewish education.”

Accompanied by a tagline — “We pioneer new approaches in Jewish education for every age” — and a fresh logo, a playfully rounded blue, yellow and green Star of David, the new look is “not just a name or logo,” emphasized CEO Robert Sherman.

The re-branding process (a new website is slated to go up, in stages, starting in a few weeks) represented a larger effort to understand the positive and negative perceptions community members had of both BJENY and SAJES, and to make sure the new name and communications would be “aligned with our mission and strategy,” Sherman said.

Why no mention of New York in the name?

“It’s a given,” said Sherman, noting that New York “unquestionably remains the focus of our work” even as the group is working to share ideas and “leverage resources” with local Jewish education efforts throughout North America.

And the Jewish Education Project’s primary benefactor, UJA-Federation of New York, which currently provides 52 percent of its funding, will be featured prominently on all materials.

The group joins a growing number of Jewish institutions with “project” in their names, everything from The David Project (a pro-Israel campus advocacy group) to the Israel Project (a pro-Israel group) to the Jewish New Teachers Project and Jewish Community Project (a Lower Manhattan Jewish community center), not to mention secular phenomena like “Project Runway” and “The Happiness Project.”

“Once upon a time [central agencies for Jewish education] went by the ‘bureau’ or the ‘board,’ because it was a time of bureaucracy, when that seemed the right way to construct a service-based organization,” Sherman said. In contrast, the word “project” says “you’re working on something, something that’s clear, focused and measurable,” he added.