JData Revealed: January 2012
January 2012
JData Revealed


A First Glimpse at the Emerging Picture
From Anecdotal Information to Real Data
A Field in Motion
A Field Caught up in Public Policy



Nov 1:  Center for Jewish Education   

Baltimore, MD


Nov. 13: Grinspoon Institute Annual Conference  

Springfield, MA 


Nov. 14: Annual Early Childhood Jewish Education Conference Newton, MA    


Dec.15: Union for Reform Judaism Biennial, Washington, DC


Jan. 15-17: North American Jewish Day School Conference Atlanta, GA


Learn more about upcoming JData presentations here. 




February 2012  


Feb. 7: Using JData Research to explore the Jewish Education Landscape     


Feb. 13:  Getting Started with JData 


Feb. 14: Using JData to draw a community-wide portrait: Los Angeles Day Schools  


To learn more about JData, register for one of our upcoming webinars. 




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Letter from the Director  

2012 is young and we accordingly dedicate our January newsletter to Jewish early childhood education. Many forces are playing on the preschool world----increased competition, market demands not only for excellent care but also educational innovation, and the spread of public funding for pre-kindergarten programs. JData has undertaken a campaign to gather data from the Jewish early childhood centers sponsored by the religious movements, day schools, and Jewish community centers. Below, our partners from the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), Cathy Rolland and Jennifer Magalnick, describe their vision for the data. We also present the picture that is emerging from the URJ data and discuss how the data apply to policy issues faced by the congregations and their early childhood centers.

We are pleased to announce that 2011-12 data are now available on the Research page of JData. Here you will find a full complement of information on the Jewish overnight camps and a growing corpus of data on day schools and part-time schools. If you are interested in Miami, Baltimore, or Los Angeles, you can select for those communities and see total enrollments, operating costs, and other information from their day schools. We invite you to return to the Research page over the coming months as new organizations and data are continually being added.

We are also setting up webinars for those interested in learning how to get the most out of the data now available in JData. Whether you are a school administrator, camp director, federation planner, or researcher, we think you will find the webinars exciting and a good use of your time. Simply sign up here.

Over the past several weeks, JData has been on the road. To all of you that we met at the Grinspoon Conference in Springfield, MA in November, at the early childhood session at the URJ Biennial in Washington, DC in December, or at the PEJE/JData booth at the North America Jewish Day School Conference in Atlanta in January, we want to say what a pleasure it was to see you in person and to have the opportunity to "talk data" with you.

In a recent article in The Jewish Week, Jack Wertheimer noted that the Jewish community lacks "regularly published data on national trends in synagogue and organizational membership, supplementary schooling, trips to Israel and other forms of Jewish engagement. Why, one wonders, does a Jewish community that prides itself on its respect for knowledge continue to make policies based on such a profound absence of data about its most basic activities?" We could not agree with him more, which is why we are working diligently to build JData to serve this purpose. We invite you to join us in this effort, as the more everyone puts into the system, the more we all get out. Such is our collective opportunity and responsibility.

With appreciation and best wishes,

Amy L. Sales, Ph.D.
Project Director
Senior Research Scientist, Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies

JData Revealed: Early Childhood Education---- A First Glimpse at the Emerging Picture 

For decades research has shown the academic and social benefits of early childhood education. Current research is also showing the positive role pre-k programs can play in public school reform. These findings hold equally for the Jewish community. The community benefits from providing high-quality early childhood education in Jewish settings. Jewish preschools set children on a path toward Jewish education, influence the Jewish practices of families, and connect families to each other and to the Jewish community. Jewish preschools can serve as  gateways to longer-term affiliation with a synagogue or Jewish community center. They can also strengthen the institution that houses them and potentially help raise the quality and level of education provided throughout the system.    



From Anecdotal Information to Real Data  Jennifer Magalnick & Cathy Rolland
Union For Reform Judaism   

"From early childhood to b'nai mitzvah to high school and then to college, we need a giant web of sacred strategies to give our kids roots and wings to stay grounded while soaring through this confusing world. Toward that end, we are working----for the very first time----on coordinating all of the essential pieces of youth engagement: summer camps, NFTY, NFTY in Israel, RAC teen seminars, congregational learning both formal and informal and more. This Movement-wide approach is going to link young people to each other, to their communities, to our people, to our Torah and to the Holy One who imbues their ever-changing lives with depth and purpose."
--Rabbi Rick Jacobs, closing remarks, 2011 URJ Biennial

As referenced in Rabbi Rick Jacobs' remarks, the Union for Reform Judaism is engaging new strategies across the board that will support our congregations in their sacred work with all facets of the Jewish community.  In the same vein, the URJ's Early Childhood team, lay leaders and professionals in partnership, have been working diligently to help URJ congregations assess how they are being affected by current social, political and economic trends.


JData Revealed: A Field in Motion 

The 226 URJ congregational early childhood centers operate in 35 states and Canada. The largest number are in California (35), New York (31), New Jersey (26), and Florida (24), accounting for half of all of the movement's early childhood centers (Figure 1).


New schools continue to open. JData contains information on the year of establishment of 97 of the current Reform early childhood centers. Synagogues opened preschools in every decade although there was clearly a quickening in this activity in the 1980s (Figure 2). These were the years of a mini-boom in the population and the era in which the dual-career family became normative. Early childhood programs were not just a good idea educationally but were a childcare necessity. The addition of new schools to the Reform system has continued unabated since then. The shift toward Jewish early childhood education outside of the Orthodox realm is noteworthy. Our recent studies of Jewish children and teens (2008, 2011) show just over two-thirds of those who attend a Jewish summer camp or had a bar/t mitzvah also attended a Jewish preschool when they were younger, a dramatic shift from their parents' generation.



JData Revealed:
A Field Caught up in Public Policy

Early childhood education has become a significant public enterprise. National data show over one million children enrolled in state-funded preschool programs in the United States in 2011. Although numbers vary significantly by state, it is estimated that at least one-fourth of all 4-year olds are enrolled in such a program. In fiscal year 2012, state funding for preschool education exceeded $5 billion.  

Within the Jewish sector, educators want to know whether or not public funding is effecting enrollment in Jewish preschools. The movements, for their part, are concerned about the dividing line between church and state and the impact of public policy on work in the Jewish community. In response, JData developed a Director's Survey in concert with the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism to gather information relevant to the public funding of early childhood education.


JData is operated by Brandeis University with generous support from the Jim Joseph Foundation 

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