November 2015

JData Revealed: Note from the Director

With the shifting landscape of Jewish education, it is difficult to predict the future of congregational and other part-time Jewish schools. Communal rhetoric now prefers engagement over education, and attention is increasingly drawn to the creation of alternative forms of youth engagement. The Reform and Conservative movements have closed their education departments, and there is no national umbrella organization to lead the way forward. In terms of research, there is scant data on the part-time schools to inform planning and action.

JData has stepped into the breach and assumed responsibility for regularly gathering information from these schools. In Summer 2015, our dedicated research assistants called almost every part-time school in the JData directory to get information on enrollment, staffing, and budget. Responses came from over 430 schools, about one-fourth of the field. We are pleased to share the results with you. Read results.

In addition, JData works with 17 communities in North America, 13 of which gather information from their part-time schools. A most notable example is Chicago. Read Rabbi Scott Aaron’s discussion of how his community has begun to use data to strengthen its 51 congregational schools. For a sense of the kind of information being used, check out the sample of Chicago data.

At JData, we do not believe in data for the data’s sake but rather seek to turn data into useful information that can make a difference—to schools and camps, the agencies that work with them, and the broader field. We hope this issue of JData Revealed helps illuminate the status of the part-time schools, a “mighty system slowly waning.” We welcome your comments.


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