BJE’s JKidLA Celebrates its 15th Anniversary
BJE’s JKidLA, an online resource platform for all things Jewish, celebrates a milestone anniversary this year marking 15 years of engaging young Jews in the continuity and quality of Jewish life across Los Angeles and beyond.
BJE created JKidLA in 2007 to provide the LA Jewish community with a much needed bridge – a single portal for families to find everything they can do Jewishly from birth through high school in Los Angeles. This online resource includes everything from formal and informal Jewish educational opportunities, fun things to do in LA, classic Jewish recipes, articles about Jewish parenting & more.
Perhaps JKidLA’s most distinguished resource is its personal “concierge,” which is run by Rachel Donitz Kaplan. Within her role, Rachel assists families in identifying the best Jewish educational opportunities for their children. She also works in tandem with local early childhood centers, day schools, religious schools and summer camps to increase the visibility of Jewish educational opportunities in the Greater Los Angeles area. JKidLA is a resource that is available at no cost to members of the community, thanks to BJE and support from The Jewish Federation and The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation.
“Imagine having a friend that knows all about every Jewish school, camp, teen program and holiday event. That’s JKidLA!,” said BJE Board Member, Marci Spitzer
In the wake of social distancing, naturally it has made connecting to Judaism more difficult than ever before. However, BJE has made powerful efforts to fuel the next generation and foster its connection with Judaism.
Recently, in its teen experiential education, BJE has adapted their in-person programming, such as March of the Living and Teen Service Corps, into robust and deeply meaningful virtual education and service programs.
Teens connected with Holocaust survivors and other isolated seniors virtually, hosted virtual Yom HaShoah discussions with Survivors, and learned about Jewish values, advocacy, and philanthropy, before pooling group resources to communally support a cause they cared about. BJE has also been able to offer teachers and administrators an array of new resources to help navigate this new and unfamiliar terrain.
According to JKidLA, Jewish education in Los Angeles is stronger than ever before. Taking advantage of existing BJE professional educator networks, educators have been able to stay connected – and in many cases grow their sense of connection – through sharing challenges and successes.
As one of the directors in BJE’s Early Childhood Directors’ Network (ECDN) told JLiving Media, “This is a scary time for a lot of families. The parents and children have the teachers to keep them calm and show them that it will be ok; it is our job as school directors to do the same for the teachers, and I feel like BJE has been doing that for the directors.”
JKid’s core strategy works alongside that of BJE, whose mission is: “Enhancing Quality, Increasing Access and Encouraging Participation in Jewish Education.” And, through providing instant ways to connect to all things Jewish, JKidLA does just that. There is no time better than now to strengthen access and education in Jews.
Together, JKidLA and BJE work with families and Jewish educators to help children grow deep Jewish roots based on Jewish education and values. These roots immerse them in our community and our future. Whether through support of Jewish schools and educators, or directly through programs such as BJE March of the Living and other teen experiential programs, BJE plays a crucial role in connecting the next generation of Jews and ensuring the continuity and quality of Jewish life in Los Angeles.
As BJE Executive Director Gil Graff said, “While it may be impossible to know what the future of the community will look like, BJE will undoubtedly continue to act as a leading voice in Jewish education, and be a key partner to schools, synagogues, and other community organizations in Los Angeles.”