Our Stories

Ellen Lefkowitz: Becoming ECE-RJ Board President

By Ellen Lefkowitz, Jewish LearningWorks’ Senior Educator

On July 1st, I will step into the role as Board President of the Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism (ECE-RJ). This is the professional organization for early childhood professionals for the Reform Movement, which serves almost 200 directors and associate directors in Jewish early childhood settings across North America. I am deeply proud to be a part of this organization whose mission is to ensure the continuity of our Jewish early childhood schools by elevating the professional self of our members. Not only do we provide regular professional development, we also offer our members access to the Reform Movement’s retirement plan, an online network of colleagues, an annual conference, assistance for congregations who are hiring a new early childhood professional, and a catalog of resources.

This network of colleagues from across North America was my lifeline for the last decade. Being an early childhood director can be an isolating experience with the incredibly demanding responsibility of holding each and every aspect of a school community. As a new director, I had instant access to more veteran directors who could guide me through any issue that arose. During the pandemic, ECE-RJ provided countless opportunities to come together to share resources and ideas for how to keep our doors open safely. As the field of early childhood education continues to evolve and rebuild, ECE-RJ is on the forefront of advocating for our professionals. While the work is deeply rewarding and our schools are a critical entry point for families in the Jewish community, the ongoing challenges of teachers being woefully underpaid and undervalued, the high cost of tuition, providing adequate training for educators, and support for all families is a struggle. If we are able to bring more visibility to both the challenges and rewards of our field, we believe it will not only lift up our schools, it will strengthen the community as a whole and fortify us for the future. ECE-RJ is dedicated to this pursuit and I am deeply honored to be a part of an amazing group of professionals.

If you would like to learn more about ECE-RJ’s work, please visit their website.