Sixty-five rabbis, along with professionals from the marketing and educational scene are scheduled to gather at the Grand Summit Hotel in Summit, New Jersey on August 12-13 for the fourth annual Jewish Learning Institute Conference.
The Jewish Learning Institute, a comprehensive adult education program established in 1998 by the Shluchim Office, a division of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, is currently active in over sixty cities in the US, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and Europe. The JLI was created to fill a certain void in Jewish community life, says coordinator Rabbi Ephraim Mintz, who is also organizing the conference.
As “emphasis on education” becomes the latest catch phrase, growing numbers of Jewish children enroll in day schools that are committed to providing them with the finest Jewish education, while their parents, the average Jewish adult, may lack even the most basic Jewish knowledge, having grown up without the benefit of the Jewish education their kids are receiving. And while day schools flourish, there are very few options for traditional Jewish adult education, even in the major cities.
The JLI set out four years ago to fill this gap with a carefully designed study program aimed at the intelligent, well educated Jewish adult. The complete package, adapted by Shluchim to their local setting, includes student texts, teacher guides, and a total marketing strategy, with professionally designed flyers and brochures. “The JLI has given a big boost to our adult education programming,” says Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman, who has coordinated several semesters of the JLI in Richmond, B.C., where he serves as director of Chabad, “The professionalism of the advertising and the course itself has made the program very successful.”
The JLI conference gives Shluchim like Rabbi Baitelman the opportunity to fully acquaint themselves with curriculum for this year, learn marketing and teaching techniques from experienced professionals, and network with their fellow educators. “The goal of the conference is to give Shluchim a sense of the collective effort behind this project, and to make them aware of the many resources they have at their disposal to make JLI a success in their city,” says Rabbi Mintz.
The sessions on the program for this year’s conference include progress reports, overviews of the courses by their authors, panel discussions on topics such as “Working With Your Local JCC” and “Student Recruiting and Follow Up,” and lectures on marketing and interactive teaching.