Israeli institute earns praise for supporting Judaic studies teachers

The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies earned high marks for its teacher training and retention programs, according to a study released by the Jerusalem-based learning institute last week.

The study, conducted by an outside research firm, also pointed out the importance of an active support system for new Judaic studies teachers.

The two-year Pardes Educator Program, which opened in 2000 and is funded by the Avi Chai Foundation, has graduated 122 Judaic educators and directed them to North American day schools and high schools. In 2008, the S.F.-based Jim Joseph Foundation provided additional funding to establish the Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project to encourage those graduates to remain in the field.

The study shows that 65 percent of PEP graduates are still working in Jewish day schools, and an additional 22 percent are employed in other areas of Jewish education. Just 13 percent have left the field.

Tamar Rabinowitz, a 2002 PEP graduate, is now a Judaic studies teacher at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay in San Francisco.

“I cannot overstate the importance of the support of a cohort of inspiring, dedicated and committed individuals who grapple with text and think deeply about teaching,” she said.

“We believe that the most effective Jewish education occurs when outstanding Jewish educators are orchestrating learning,” said Chip Edelsberg, executive director of the Jim Joseph Foundation. “Pardes offers these educators a truly exceptional experience of text-based Jewish learning and on-the-job professional development.”