East Bay Early Childhood Education Conference

This Year's Theme: Our Diverse Community; the Values of Our Village

Join us for two sessions each offering 4-5 workshops. (Participants can choose one workshop per session)


8:30-9:00      Register and breakfast
9:00-9:15      Welcome - Rabbi Pearlman (Temple Isaiah)
9:30-11:00    Session I breakouts
11:00-11:20  Break
11:20-12:45  Session II breakouts
12:45-1:30    Lunch and Wrap-up
1:30-3:00      Optional Staff Meeting Time

Download the program.


Little People of the Book: Using Diverse Children's Literature to Teach Jewish Values

We will explore a diverse selection of books through a Jewish lens, gleaning Jewish values to support the learning in our classrooms. Participants will work in large and small groups to find factors that unify us as Jewish educators. Story stones, loose parts, and the books themselves give participants opportunities to interact with one another and reflect upon our practices. 

Instructors: Ellen Brosbe and Jodi Gladstone

Gender Expansive Classrooms Through a Jewish Lens

You will be given a primer on how to work towards building a classroom that will embrace and nurture trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming children—as well as allowing all children to become allies to those affected by the constraints of gender. We believe children have the right to explore gender through play and exploration, just as they experience everything in an ECE classroom. Through activities and conversation, we will challenge ourselves to change our perspective and brainstorm on how to support one another as staff in order to do this work. We will also discuss: the 6 genders named in historic Jewish texts; relate how traditional Jewish values align with nurturing gender expansiveness; and the progressive Jewish lenses that encourage us to do this work.

Instructors: Eliza Stuber, Kitat Alon Preschool Teacher; Lydia Warren, Kitat Zayit Preschool Teacher

Is Kavod (Respect) Possible in Jewish preschools?

We will discuss the true meaning of Kavod, how to make sure it happens for all stakeholders and explore why is it so difficult to implement in modern-day society. There will be time left for questions and answers. 

Instructor: Bathea James

Who Can It Be Knocking at My Door? The Jewish Value of Hachnasat Orchim/Welcoming Guests

Welcoming Guests is an integral part of our early childhood programs. As our schools and communities become more and more diverse, does everyone feel welcome? What is your part in making all the children and families feel a part of the community? What is the community’s role in making you, the educator, feel welcome? Can we bring Jewish in a way that everyone is comfortable with? We will explore these questions and more as we strive to embrace all that we are.

Instructor: Adam Lowy


Process Versus Product: A Story of Building Community Through Art

In the Reggio Emilia approach, we will speak about the importance of the process versus the product. In this talk, we will narrate the story of how we use our new art studio at Gan Shalom for clay explorations and for making individual and group statues with our children. We will also describe how these projects strengthen a sense of community at Gan Shalom. We will show how children have been able to express and learn about their unique selves and their community through this process. We will describe how working on a specific “product” in a Reggio Emilia inspired way has built a sense of belonging and encouraged child and parent participation in the community of Gan Shalom. It has also created a sense of wonder, joy, and curiosity about Jewish learning and teaching among the children and the teachers. 

Instructor: Dr. Beatrice J. V. Balfour and Molly Greenberg

How To Bring Loose Parts Into Your Classroom

We will explore the endless possibilities of loose parts and how to use them in a classroom setting. We will also look at how we can use these materials to engage children with a range of learning styles. Educators will have the opportunity to experience and experiment with diverse materials and formulate what is suitable for their own classrooms.

Instructor: Mercedes Macedo

What Do We Mean by "Jewish Values"

We will explore ways to incorporate Jewish values into Jewish early childhood education. But what do we mean by “Jewish values?” What's particularly Jewish about those values? What happens when Jewish values come into conflict or tension with the values of the society in which we live? Join Rabbi Greninger will introduce an engaging conversation and text study exploring these questions, helping to deepen our understanding of what it means to incorporate "Jewish values" into our classes. 

Instructor: Rabbi Nicki Greninger

Kehillah: The Value of Community

Using Jewish textual approaches to community, we will explore how to build community in a classroom and in a congregation, how to integrate preschools into the broader congregational community and perform a little bit of singing.

Instructor: Rabbi Mark Bloom 

Is Kavod (Respect) Possible in Jewish preschools?

We will discuss the true meaning of Kavod, how to make sure it happens for all stakeholders, and explore why is it so difficult to implement in modern-day society. There will be time left for questions and answers.

Instructor: Bathea James


Interests: Classes, Families
February 14, 2020
8:30 AM - 3:00 PM
Temple Isaiah 945 Risa Rd. Free parking


Organized By: 
Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund
Event Contact Person: 
Andy Kastner
Ellen Brosbe
Ellen is veteran early childhood and family educator. She is formerly the director of early childhood at Jewish Learning Works and has recently worked with the Early Childhood and Family Engagement initiative at Jewish Community Federation. Ellen has a passion for working with teachers who are new to Jewish early childhood settings. One of her favorite questions is ‘what are you reading?"
Jodi Gladstone
Jodi has been with Beth El Nursery School (BENS) since 2007. She currently serves as the Early Childhood Education Director. Before becoming the director in 2016, Jodi was a classroom teacher and the BENS Jewish Outdoor Educator, creating a curriculum fused with art, nature and Jewish values for all of the learners. Jodi also worked as a freelance artist, creating watercolor illustrations. One of her great passions is reading and sharing a good book with children.
Lydia Warren
Born and raised in Berkeley Ca, Lydia is entering her third year as an early childhood educator. She is a graduate of the Evergreen State College where she studied theater and political economy and was an apprentice at their Children's Center. As a Jewish lesbian, she is a strong believer in anti-bias education that promotes social reform.
Eliza Stuber
Eliza a local to the Bay Area, where they grew up in the Kehilla community. Eliza started working at the JCC of the East Bay in the camp program in 2013. After graduating from Humboldt State University, they went into the JCC Afterschool program before transitioning to the JCC Preschool in 2017. At HSU Eliza studied psychology, early childhood development, and environmental ethics. In their free time, they often can be found escaping into nature, watching A's games, participating in social justice activism, cooking, and discovering radical self & body love liberation.
Bathea James
Bathea is a well-known clinical therapist and educator. She is an expert on child development and has lectured extensively in all aspects of parenting. Bathea has been running parenting workshops for many years now and her dissertation was on "Birth Order and Parenting." Bathea was a lecturer at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa prior to moving to the United States. Since moving to the United States, she has been a clinical therapist in private practice, Head of School, lecturer for Parents Place and a motivational speaker for Canyon Ranch in Tucson.
Adam Lowy
Adam has been in the field of Jewish ECE for 25 years. After 20 years in the classroom and a few in administration, Adam became the Jewish Resource Specialist Coordinator mentoring Educators as they strive to deepen Jewish learning and engage families in Jewish life. Adam lives in SF with his wife, Shira, his children, Irit and Micah and he enjoys eating freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, preferably with nuts.
Beatrice J.V. Balfour
Holding dual-citizenship, Dr. Beatrice Balfour grew up in Italy and came to the U.S. to attend U.C. Berkeley. Her passion for progressive pedagogies, particularly the so-called ‘Reggio Emilia approach,’ led her to obtain a Ph.D in Early Childhood Education from the University of Cambridge. She has taught early childhood education at the University level and was a project manager for the creation of an experimental school in Ecuador. For Beatrice, Gan Shalom’s progressive educational methodologies are filled with the beauty and richness of the Jewish curriculum and culture. Dr. Balfour is honored to be part of Gan Shalom’s special, welcoming, and inclusive community.
Mercedes Macedo
Mercedes has been an early childhood educator since 2006. Her interest in natural materials and a Reggio approach began when she joined Beth El Nursery School in 2014. Since then, learning about and investigating loose parts has become the guiding passion of her work as an educator. She is also avid about bringing diverse sensory materials and experiences to her classroom. Currently, Mercedes teaches at Temple Emanu-El ECEC, and lives in Dallas with her husband and lovely canine daughter, Mocha Marie.
Rabbi Nicki Greninger
Rabbi Greninger is Director of Lifelong Learning at Temple Isaiah in Lafayette, CA, where she has pioneered new models of synagogue-based Jewish education. She was ordained as a Rabbi from the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, where she also earned a Masters of Arts in Religious Education. Rabbi Greninger published the widely-used article “Believing, Behaving, Belonging: Tefillah Education in the 21st Century” in the Journal of Jewish Education and authored a chapter on Hebrew education in the book Portraits of Jewish Education. She is a recipient of the prestigious Pomegranate Prize for Jewish Education from the Covenant Foundation, and she is one of the co-founders of #OnwardHebrew. Rabbi Greninger is a member of the Presidents Rabbinic Council of HUC-JIR, serves on the Professional Learning team for the Association of Reform Jewish Educators, and is the Northern California coordinator of the Women’s Rabbinic Network.
Rabbi Mark Bloom
Mark joined Temple Beth Abraham of Oakland, California as its rabbi in 2001, where it has doubled in size to 500 families during his tenure. He has written his own prayerbook called “The Song of Abraham,” and created the very popular “Rock and Roll Shabbat.” He also does music in the religious school, preschool, and Kindergym programs, and is known to make an appearance almost every day in the preschool classrooms and yard.
Molly Greenberg
Molly grew up in the Bay Area Jewish community and feels privileged to work at the very same preschool she and her siblings attended some twenty years ago. She majored in American Studies at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD, and is thrilled to be back in her native home of Berkeley, California. Molly has always known deep down that she was meant to work with young children, and is excited to find creative approaches for early literacy exploration within a play-based environment. She takes particular joy in watching her students celebrate the same traditions she did while in preschool.