Regional Educators Cohort

Center your teaching around justice
Avodah Institute for Social Change Logo

Deepen your ability to center tzedek (justice) in your work as a Jewish educator by participating in the Avodah Institute for Social Change Regional Educators Cohort. 

This professional development opportunity is for Jewish education leaders in or near Cleveland, Detroit, Columbus, and Pittsburgh. Educators will learn tools to ensure that justice is centrally woven into their educational ethos, from regular study and conversation about moral responsibility, visionary structures that reflect the genuinely diverse needs and identities within our communities, and opportunities for action on essential local issues.

This cohort is for mid- to senior-level leaders in Jewish youth educational settings who operate on a school-year schedule. This includes roles such as school department heads, youth group directors, synagogue or JCC education directors, and others.

Program Components

In-Person Opening Retreat

1:1 Coaching Sessions

Online Learning Sessions

Peer Mentoring

The program begins with a summer intensive schedule that launches in June 2024. Participants then meet weekly from late June through mid-August, except for the week of July 4th. Then the program continues through the 2024-2025 school year with monthly coaching and various virtual learning opportunities.

“I appreciate the opportunity to set aside dedicated time to explore social justice issues and vocabulary through a Jewish lens with colleagues and facilitators who are committed to learning, teaching, and being together to address these topics. I look forward to bringing this learning back to my staff and our students to lift up the issues that are most important and relevant to our local [institution].”


— 2022 Leadership for Social Change participant

Meet the Faculty

Faculty are expert educators who bring the Avodah Institute curriculum to life through mentorship and facilitation. They are leaders in their field and have expertise on topics like social justice pedagogy, anti-racism, leadership development, and Jewish communal life.

Sarra Alpert

Meet Sarra >>

Jonah Canner

Meet Jonah >>

Dr. Imani Chapman

Meet Imani >>

Keshira haLev Fife

Meet Keshira >>

Yoshi Silverstein

Meet Yoshi >>

Dubbs Weinblatt

Meet Dubbs >>

Co-Sponsors

The Collective logo
JCCs of North America logo
Jewish Columbus Logo
The Jewish Education Project logo
Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh Logo
Mitsui Collective Logo
Prizma Center for Jewish Day Schools logo
Repair the World Cleveland Logo
Repair the World Detroit Logo
Repair the World Pittsburgh Logo

Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question that’s not answered here? Contact us at .

Who is this course for?

The cohort is for mid- to senior-level Jewish educational leaders in or near Cleveland, Detroit, Columbus, and Pittsburgh. It is geared for leaders who work in Jewish youth educational settings and who operate on a school-year schedule. This includes roles such as school directors and department heads, youth group directors, synagogue or JCC education directors, and others.

We are looking for applicants whose roles involve leadership responsibilities that can include, among other things, supervising people, leading a team, making curriculum decisions, taking part in institutional strategy, making hiring decisions, and managing professional development for their organization. There is not an age requirement for participation.

What's the application timeline?

The priority deadline is  Monday, March 11th. Priority deadline applicants will be notified by Monday, March 25th.

The final deadline is Thursday, April 18th. Final deadline applicants will be notified by Thursday, May 2nd.

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Ready to join the cohort? Apply today!

What is tuition and what does it include?

Tuition is $1,600 per individual and $1,200 per additional participant from the same organization. Scholarships are available and you can indicate on the application if you are requesting one.

Tuition includes nine hours of one-on-one coaching, a year of programming (including group coaching and project consulting), meals and single-occupant lodging at the opening retreat, and food at daylong programs.

Participants are responsible for any travel costs to/from retreats though transportation subsidies may be available upon request.   

 

What is the timeline and time commitment?

Summer Intensive Schedule
Week 1: Opening 3 night retreat in-person – June 24-27
Week 2: No programming
Week 3: Full-group virtual program (2 hours)
Week 4: Coaching week*
Week 5: In-person meetup in hub cities
Week 6: Full-group virtual program (2 hours)
Week 7: Coaching week*
Week 8: Final daylong program in-person (full group) – tentatively August 12

*During coaching weeks, participants will have facilitated group coaching for a total of 1.75 hours (including opening and closing with the full cohort). Each participant will have a one-on-one coaching session during each coaching week, scheduled on their own time. All coaching is virtual.

2024-2025 School Year Schedule
Continued individual and group coaching and virtual learning sessions. Exact dates to be determined.

Participants will work independently (with support from their coach and peer mentors) on a project throughout the school year. The program closes with a daylong in-person session in June 2025.

What if I don’t live in one of the cohort cities?

We are open to participants living in the broad regions around our hub cities (Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, and Pittsburgh) as long as they are willing to travel to hub cities for in-person programs. In-person programs are the opening retreat (near Cleveland), an in-person meetup of each hub city group during week 5 of the summer intensive, and two daylong programs (exact location TBD) in August 2024 and June 2025.

What are the attendance expectations? What if I need to miss a session?

Our goal is to ensure that all participants can join all sessions and we expect participants to prioritize participation. That said, we understand that life happens and unexpected circumstances arise. If you cannot attend a particular program, we ask that you email us in advance. The expectation is that you watch the recording and read through any other materials from the session that you missed.

What topics will the program cover?

The cohort will learn about topics such as antisemitism and white supremacy, foundations of social justice in Jewish text and thought, anti-racism and allyship, tools for engaging in challenging conversations, and personal and organizational auditing for social justice, along with others as per feedback from our faculty and participants along the way. We will also have plenty of relational time to support participants in connecting to a network of others who share similar goals.

Do I need a strong background in justice work to apply?

We encourage people with varying degrees of experience in social justice to join us and we have no expectation of prior work or knowledge.

What is coaching like?

Coaching is a space for participants to receive individualized support from a skilled expert in the Jewish justice field. Coaches provide deep listening, thought partnership, feedback, accountability, and support in overcoming obstacles. Coaching will support participants in carrying out their projects and also in absorbing curriculum materials and reflecting on their ongoing learning throughout the program.

Here’s what some of our past participants have said about coaching:

  • ”I like the open and responsive nature of coaching. I felt respected, like my input was valuable and interesting. I was given new thoughts to expand where I was thinking already and was pushed to think differently about my experiences.”
  • “My coach is very engaging and is willing to listen to what I say and provides suggestions but does not make me feel like I need to actually take them – I appreciate having the ability to choose what I think makes sense.”
  • “I like the way my coach is always able to tie my work back to racial justice work. I think I often don’t see the connection and she helps me see it.”
  • “My coach is easy to communicate with, gives feedback in a way that is easy and valuable to hear, and supports my desire for practical learning.”
What is the project component of the program?

The Justice in Action Goal (JAG) project is designed to build off of the ongoing learning sessions to allow participants to identify and focus on the areas where they most want to grow in their social justice leadership and put their learning into concrete action. 

Starting at the end of the summer intensive, participants will each set a strategic, measurable, and relevant social justice leadership goal that is achievable by the end of the 2024-2025 school year. Participants will have the support of their faculty coach and peer mentors in their coaching group throughout this process.

Examples of JAGs include: setting up a restorative justice protocol for your institution, creating metrics for gender and racial equity that you include when reviewing curriculum, enhancing disability access of your physical space, creating a new program offering or tweaking a current one to be more aligned with justice goals, writing/publishing an Op-Ed or social media campaign, adjusting an organizational policy, adding a new staff education series or training program, or creating a plan to engage board members or strategic advisors in a new way.

Is the cohort geared towards leaders and institutions who come from a specific Jewish denominational background?

The cohort is designed to be for Jewish educational leaders regardless of Jewish background – across all denominations and types of Jewish practice. Leaders who are not themselves Jewish but who work for a Jewish educational organization and meet the eligibility requirements are encouraged to apply.

How much of the programming will be in-person vs. virtual?

Most of the programs will be virtual, with the exception of a 3-night opening retreat opening retreat, hub city meetup and daylong program at the close of the summer intensive, all of which take place in person. We will also conclude the program with a daylong in-person program in June 2025.

We encourage city groups to meet up in person throughout the 2024-2025 school year as they are able.

I’m not sure if this program is the right fit for me. Can I talk to someone about it?

Of course! We are always happy to chat – whether over email, phone, or zoom. Please fill out this form and someone from our team will reach out to you. 

What have previous participants said about their experience in Leadership for Social Change cohorts?

“I think that there are now issues and questions that I feel confident speaking about and struggling with. Issues of social justice cut very deep and can be painful to grapple with, but to do so with like-minded colleagues in an environment set up to give you the tools to move forward is an invaluable experience.”

“I have always felt called towards justice work, but the pandemic really disheartened me towards this work. I now feel I have the tools and concepts I needed to re-immerse back into justice work and spaces to work toward making an impact.”

“I feel like this helped me get more comfortable with risk taking and pushing myself to bring the conversations/questions I need into the room more often.”

“I want to thank you for a great learning session. While the material is hard (which of course is part of why it is worthwhile,) today’s session, even on Zoom, was great. More specifically, it is apparent that you valued our input and feedback and acted upon it. I really appreciate it. It is never easy to plan for a group of professionals with varied hopes and dreams, and your gracious response was quick and effective. I look forward to our next session.”

“I appreciate the flow of the program and am excited to make small steps and really dig in after a summer of thinking about our decisions and actions more thoughtfully where social justice is concerned.”

The Avodah Institute for Social Change is designed to train countless Jewish leaders from across the Jewish professional sector in social change work and transform the culture of American Jewish life. The work responds both to the timeless Jewish imperative to pursue justice and the current moment when Jewish organizations nationally have expressed a heightened concern with creating an equitable and inclusive society. 

The Regional Educators Cohort is generously funded by the Covenant Foundation.

The Covenant Foundation logo