On behalf of the Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE) it is my pleasure to share some important information with the community of people who have been our greatest supporters over the past 103 years. Since our opening day in 1911, the BJE has provided a variety of educational programs and services as the needs of the community have evolved over the years. While the format of our services may have altered, one thing has never changed—our commitment to being the educational core of the Jewish community of greater Indianapolis.
This year, to be fiscally responsible, our board made the difficult decision to close our preschool education program as of May 30, 2015. We are saddened by ending an excellent educational program that was once a vital part of the BJE and of the community. We are grateful to the commitment of all of our devoted teachers and parents over the years, especially our long time teacher and director, Elaine Fairfield.
The BJE’s restructuring will leave us in a stronger position to continue our communal Hebrew school, adult education, and Holocaust education programs. Our communal Hebrew school continues to be a unifying educational force for children in grades 3-7 and high school students in Hebrew High and Kehillah College. We are grateful to the communal subsidy of the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis (JFGI) and others who make it possible for us to offer this program to all children, even those who have limited financial resources. We are extremely proud of our ability to offer our Hebrew school program with real-time distance learning opportunities to our families who live too far away to attend in person.
Our adult education program provides modern and siddur Hebrew classes, both in person and through our distance learning platform. We also work with our congregational community in coordinating other educational programs including our popular summer adult program. We are also excited about this year’s new program of hosting the Biblical Hebrew class of the Christian Theological Seminary taught by Rabbi Winnig.
Our Holocaust education program reach is rapidly growing and expanding. With the support of the Irwin and Illiana Levin fund and the Paul family funds of JFGI and the Lilly Endowment, Inc., we are able to offer Holocaust education training programs to teachers throughout Indiana. The Freeman Fund of JFGI is helping us develop exciting innovative video material about local survivors for our Holocaust trunk programs, which are distributed to middle and high school classrooms throughout the year. We are working closely with the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Indiana Human Rights Commission, the Martin Luther King Commemoration committee, the Jewish Educational Directors’ Council, and the Children’s Museum to provide public Yom HaShoah education programs for middle school and high school children. Our Holocaust Speakers’ Bureau receives many requests throughout the year for speakers to share their personal stories at schools, churches, and civic organization. We are also working with Dance Kaleidoscope and the Judische Kulturbund in creating educational materials to enhance their artistic programs of Holocaust inspired dance, music, and theater. These programs make certain that thousands of Hoosiers each year learn about the Holocaust so that together we can work to lay the groundwork to make certain its lessons are never forgotten and never repeated.
We look forward to having all of you join with us as we continue to evolve and grow and create an ever stronger and more impactful BJE for the future.
Zev Winicur, President, BJE Board of Trustees