BAMA – Board of Jewish Education Forum
Name of implementing organization: Russian Jewish Congress, St.-Petersburg
Date of initial project approval:February 2009
Brief description of the local Jewish community
Jewish life in St. Petersburg has undergone a dramatic renewal for the city’s approximately 90,000 Jewish residents. The community is served by four Jewish day schools, with a total enrollment of 600 students; 11 Jewish kindergartens, with a total enrollment of 500; and the St. Petersburg Institute for Jewish Studies, with 120 students. There also are a number of Jewish family and communal organizations, and representation of JAFI and the JDC.
Project aims and objectives
* Establish a city Board of Jewish Education which will promote higher standards for Jewish educational frameworks; endorse innovative pedagogical approaches in Jewish education; and expand and deepen Jewish education in St. Petersburg and North-West of Russia.
* Raise the pedagogical skills of Jewish education professionals in St. Petersburg and North-West of Russia.
* Upgrade and develop knowledge in the spheres of: Israeli Studies (including Hebrew, Zionism, and the State of Israel), Jewish History, Jewish Literature, Jewish Tradition, and Pedagogics.
* Support and inspire local Jewish educators
The project's main goal is to build the foundation for a Board of Jewish Education in St. Petersburg and North-West of Russia, which will promote higher standards for Jewish educational frameworks; endorse innovative pedagogical approaches; and provide wider and deeper Jewish education in general.
The project provides training to raise the pedagogical skills of Jewish professionals in St. Petersburg and North-West of Russia. It provides: a training program for local specialists; personal methodological support; and monthly one-day seminars for different professional target groups, as well as common larger seminars on a certain theme. Two weekend seminars each academic year are aimed at networking and best practices exchange. The project offers work-shops and lectures by prominent Jewish educators and community leaders, and develops educational and pedagogical materials.
Main budget elements
· Educational consultants
· One-day study seminars and workshops
· Weekend seminars
· Development of educational materials
The project's successes
During a recent six-month period, the project conducted 6 workshops for various professional target groups; 2 one-day seminars; and one weekend seminar. A total of 180 people participated in these events.
The one-day seminars included the city scientific conference “Autumn Equinox”, for educators in the academic Jewish Studies track; and "Principles of Jewish Upbringing", for pre-school and primary school educators.
A weekend educational seminar, “I Love Everything That Flows”, was conducted for Hebrew teachers. The project also provided methodological support and supervision.
The project has gradually become a full-scale resource center for Jewish education.It has facilitated a rise in the level of knowledge and awareness connected with Jewish topics among members of Jewish organizations, as well as increased interest in community work; implementation of new pedagogical techniques in Jewish schools, community centers and camps;and an increase in the number of joint educational programs in the Jewish community St. Petersburg.
Difficulties encountered along the way
Some leaders of Jewish organizations have not shown enough interest in increasing the level of knowledge of Jewish subjects among their employees. This situation can be improved through involving these leaders in the planning of joint education activities.
A second difficulty encountered was connected to structural changes in one of the organizations serving as a co-founder of BAMA.