The core elements of creating and sustaining powerful part-time Jewish education programs

In response to the national census on part-time Jewish education released this spring, and the arrival of many new school directors in our community this fall we have created a new series spotlighting the essential elements of creating an engaging congregational school program. This six-session series will feature a mix of big-picture and on-the-ground ideas, and will be taught by an all-star team of Jewish LearningWorks partners.

If you are a new education director, or a veteran director seeking to be inspired, we hope you’ll join us for one or more sessions this year.

Spotlight is for new and returning congregational educators

This year half of our part-time Jewish education program directors are new in their roles. This six-part series will support them by exploring the core elements of a powerful part-time Jewish educational program. Together we’ll build community, review best practices, and consider how to return to vibrant learning post-pandemic.

  • Aimed at: New and veteran directors of part-time Jewish educational programs that teach children K-8.
  • Structure: 6 virtual sessions, 2 hours each. Zoom link provided upon registration.
  • Fall sessions: October 25, and December 6, 2023.
  • Winter sessions: Schedule coming soon.

Fall Sessions


Transmission and Translation – Embracing a World of Both/And

By Dr. Tali Zelkowicz

October 25, 2023 from 10 am – Noon

In this session, Dr. Tali Zelkowicz of the Wexner Foundation,will invite us to define and question the long-held competition between “Jewish Education” and “Jewish Engagement,” and to revisit our assumptions about what it means to offer meaningful and impactful Jewish experiences. Successful learning is a continual calibration of the necessary and productive tension between education’s two dominant goals “Translation” (the desires, needs, and purposes of the learner to make meaning, feel authentic, seen, as an empowered and creative agent), and “Transmission (a given set of concepts, ideas, perspectives, values, texts, skills, behaviors, habits of mind ).”

But today, and for some time, these two vital energy sources have not typically been working well together, often functioning as rivals, causing many schools to choose between designing for one or the other. What huge potential vistas would be revealed if as Jewish educators we could step into the “Whole” and respond to the question “translation or transmission?” with a confident, paradoxical “yes.”


Social, Emotional and Spiritual Learning – The Heart of Jewish Education

By Dr. Nancy Parkes

December 6, 2023 from 10 am – Noon

The research is clear: social and emotional skills are essential for both academic and personal success. As educators our goals are many, but certainly we hope to facilitate learning that leads to knowledgable Jews, who live Jewish values and make a difference in this world. In order to do so, we need to think intentionally about how we teach children and teens to relate to each other and to adults; how we teach empathy and caring; and how we teach responsibility and resilience. Just as importantly, we want our learners to be happy and to reach their fullest human potential. Teaching and incorporating social, emotional, and spiritual learning (SESL) into every lesson can lead to the achievement of all this and more!

This interactive workshop with Dr. Nancy Parkes will introduce, and encourage you to engage with SESL tools and strategies. Along with sharing examples, there will be time to meet with your colleagues to discuss ways to incorporate these tools and strategies into your daily schedule and curricula. Watch this short video to learn a little bit about SEL.


All directors of part time Jewish educational programs are eligible to participate.

  • Fee: $72 per session.
  • Registration is open until the series is full.

All trainings at Jewish LearningWorks are subsidized by our generous donors. To arrange a cost adjustment, please email Dana Sheanin at


For more information or any questions you may have, please contact Dana Sheanin at

About Our Presenters

Tali Zelkowicz

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Dr. Zelkowicz completed her undergraduate work in Sociology on the Dean’s List at the University of British Columbia before attending Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, where she received rabbinical ordination and an MA in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School. She earned her doctorate at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, as a Wexner Graduate Fellow. She received a Young Scholar’s Award from the Network for Research in Jewish Education and was granted a Writing Dissertation Fellowship from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. Her articles and chapters on identity formation appear in a variety of journals, magazines and anthologies.

As a sociologist of Jewish education, Tali is endlessly fascinated by cultural straddling and the ways we manage the tensions that are produced by being a part of and apart from American life, as Jews. In 2016, after a decade of research, writing and teaching graduate students in rabbinical, educational and non-profit management degree programs at HUC in Los Angeles, Tali was fortunate to be able to translate her research on integration and identity work into practice at Columbus Jewish Day School, where she served as Head of School. Tali is delighted to be able to integrate sociology, education and Judaism as The Wexner Foundation’s first Director of Curriculum and Research.

Tali lives in Columbus with her film-animating and children’s-book-authoring husband, Benny, and their two children, Gavriela and Asher. When she is not integrating disciplines, she loves scuba diving, softball, board games, traveling, table tennis and is determined to coordinate a recreational Kosher Iron Chef competition one day soon.

Nancy Parkes

Nancy Parkes is an educational consultant and founder of JTeachNOW. Her current focus is in helping Jewish educators and directors bring social emotional and spiritual learning to their settings. Several of her articles on the topic have appeared in eJewishphilanthry and she is currently working on an SESL toolkit for Jewish educators. For the past two years, Nancy has worked with educators enrolled in a certification program in Social Emotional Learning at Rutgers University as they translate their learning into their Jewish educational settings. Nancy also continues to work with schools, organizations, and educators as they embark on, or are in the process of, change as they redefine Jewish education for the 21st century. Nancy gave an ELI talk on this topic in 2015. For the past two years, Nancy has worked with the Matan organization helping leaders of schools and organizations bring inclusion into their settings, and taught Jewish Leadership at JTS. Nancy served as the Director of Congregational Learning at Temple Israel Center in White Plains for ten years, creating a new model of education that included full time community educators. She has become an outspoken advocate for synagogue schools and for the partnership between Rabbis and educators in bringing about innovation and change in this setting. Nancy received her M.A. degree in Jewish Studies and Education in the William Davidson School of Education at JTS and is currently earning her Ed.D there.