Nurturing Excellence in Synagogue Schools

Three years ago five Bay Area congregations  decided to abandon “business as usual,” and to re-think how Jewish learning was happening in their synagogue schools. They partnered with the Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE) in NESS – Nurturing Excellence in Synagogue Schools – an initiative designed to revitalize Jewish education. Three years later, this bold move is now paying dividends.

The BJE’s NESS initiative was seed funded over a three year period by the Jewish Community Federation in conjunction with the Koret Foundation, PELIE Foundation and BJE donors.  The initiative asked a great deal of its stakeholders: Hours of professional development for teachers, leadership development for education directors, and hundreds of hours of values clarification, curriculum mapping and planning by volunteer lay leaders and clergy.

BJE's Annual Celebration Many of the synagogue educators, clergy, family and lay leaders who have participated in the NESS program will be honored on May 19, 2011 in San Francisco at BJE's Annual Celebration. Register Now.

This partnership among BJE, the five synagogues and a group of visionary funders is reaping rewards in the form of a variety of educational improvements, including unique religious school curricula that incorporate each synagogue’s mission and values, improved pedagogy and engaged kids who love going to religious school. The five Bay Area synagogues who undertook this endeavor are Congregation Beth Jacob in Redwood City, Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto, Congregation Rodef Sholom in San Rafael, Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco and Peninsula Temple Sholom in Burlingame. 

Help spread the word about the great work taking place in our community, and pass this video on!

Categories: Videos


May 02, 2011


The Federation