The Good People Fund (GPF), a nonprofit initiative deeply rooted in the work of repairing the world in the U.S. and Israel, awarded a new fellowship program to Michael Witman, director of education at Temple Beth-El. This will mark the first partnership between the Good People Fund and the national education consortium NewCAJE. Witman will join four other Jewish educators, who together will spend a year focused on merging Jewish education strategies with service-learning and social action tactics.
“Through a targeted yearlong program, this new fellowship opportunity was created to enhance and support the work of Jewish educators who, like Witman are focused on service-learning, tzedakah or social action content in their settings,” explains Robyn Faintich, The Good People Fund’s education consultant. “We are looking forward to combining the launch of the fellowship with the annual NewCAJE conference, taking place in early August in Hartford, Connecticut, which emphasizes the sharing of information, learning new Jewish education techniques and sharing problem solutions.”
Witman is an ideal fellow for the program. At Temple Beth-El, he works closely with teens and a focus to promote the work of philanthropy within the congregation. His passion for his work is evident in the ways in which he engages with families and students to identify and help them find meaning in Jewish education. He is a graduate of the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford and has served in key education position’s at Central Synagogue in Manhattan and Temple Beth Shalom of Roslyn, where he helped redefine the way in which families engage in Jewish life through the use of experiential learning. He is a member of the National Association of Temple Educators (NATE), Long Island Temple Educators (LITE) and studied in Israel as a fellow in the third cohort of Leadership Institute: Shaping Congregational Leaders
Witman and the other fellows will take part in a series of sessions led by Faintich and Rabbi Steven Bayar that will focus on the building blocks of service-learning and goals and strategies of volunteerism and social action. Additional sessions focus on the Good People Fund Grab ‘n’ Go Lessons—modular curriculum guides which provide educators with an all-encompassing lesson which includes everything from set induction activities to text study to hands-on application. The Grab ‘n’ Go Lessons are each centered around a Good People Fund grantee and the passionate work they do to improve the world. The lessons are designed so educators can easily adapt them for a variety of learning settings. Fellows will utilize these and other Good People Fund education tools through the year. Following the conference, the fellowship will continue through a series of web-based meetings.
Founded in 2008, The Good People Fund, inspired by the concept of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, responds to significant problems such as poverty, disability, trauma and social isolation, primarily in the United States and Israel. They provide financial support and management guidance for small to medium grassroots efforts. Their grant recipients are leading their nonprofits with annual budgets under $500,000 and no professional development staff, but are driven and determined to make a difference in their communities. With its guiding philosophy that small actions can have huge impacts and its emphasis on the personal connection, the GPF has raised and granted more than $7 million since its inception in 2008. For more information on The Good People Fund or how you can support its grantees and their efforts, visit www.goodpeoplefund.org.
NewCAJE is a pluralistic organization that brings together all settings of Jewish education; welcomes anyone involved in the transmission of Jewish culture, custom and belief; includes people in all job descriptions in the field, including both professional and lay leaders; advocates for Jewish education and for Jewish teachers; and is a forum where new ideas are explored, new talent welcomed, and a multitude of ideas and resources shared. More information on NewCAJE can be found at www.newcaje.org.