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Building a pipeline of leadership for Jewish early childhood education

June 2017

Early childhood is a crucial period for instilling Jewish identity in children, engaging parents, and serving as a gateway for additional Jewish education and involvement in community life. Programs that reach out to parents, providing support and community, are most effective in promoting continued engagement beyond the early childhood years.  It is essential that Jewish early childhood programming be welcoming and inclusive.  For unaffiliated families, particularly interfaith families, Jewish early childhood programming is an especially important avenue towards connection with the Jewish community. In today’s competitive landscape, Jewish early childhood offerings must meet the same rigorous expectations that parents apply to secular early childhood programming.

The Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute (JECELI) provides intensive professional development to rising leaders of early childhood centers, including new and aspiring early childhood directors and teacher leaders.  JECELI aims to prepare graduates to design and direct more effective Jewish early childhood programs. The program is open to leaders of early childhood programs from across movements and types of institutions. The program is a collaborative effort between the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). CFP brought JECELI to Chicago in 2016. Following the success of the inaugural JECELI Chicago cohort, CFP provided support to launch a second cohort of participants in 2017.