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In our News section, you’ll find copies of our director’s weekly email message, Rabbi Scott Aaron’s blog, information for the media, the Connections newsletter for those in the community involved with or interested in special needs, and more. If you have questions about any of our news items or initiatives, contact the appropriate member of our staff.

AJL in the News, 2014

September 1, 2014, “Placing Experience at the Center of Understanding Experiential Learning”: Dr. Gabe Goldman, AJL’s Director of Experiential learning, writes about what exactly is “experiential learning” for eJewish Philanthropy. | Read the article

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August 26, 2014, “Agency focuses on growing Jewish learning”: The Agency for Jewish Learning has announced the departure of Edward Frim as its executive director. Frim, who has served in the post since 2005, will be leaving at the end of the month. The AJL will continue to be pivotal in delivering Jewish education to Pittsburgh’s Jewish community, according to Jan Levinson, a past board chair of both the JEI and the AJL. | Read the article

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August 17, 2014, “Pittsburgh Jewish Organizations Team Up to End Domestic Abuse”: The AJL is part of the Jewish Domestic Abuse Task Force, a forum for individuals and Jewish organizations in Pittsburgh that are working to address domestic abuse issues. | Read the article

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August 13, 2014, “New South Hills collaboration creates united high school program for Jewish teens”: South Hills teens, regardless of affiliation, will be offered the chance to come together to learn and socialize through a new supplemental high school Judaics program supported by several Jewish institutions in the area. The South Hills Community Jewish High School, to be launched this fall, is a collaboration between Beth El Congregation, Temple Emanuel of South Hills, the South Hills JCC and the Agency for Jewish Learning. | Read the article

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August 13, 2014, “AJL’s new director of teen learning has ‘amazing’ plans for J-SITE”: Courses in the films of Woody Allen or the Jewish roots of the humor of Jon Stewart and Sarah Silverman; instruction on how to build a makom kodesh from scratch, using natural resources; and the opportunity to study just how and why the Jews came to America. This clearly is not your older brother’s J-SITE. Carolyn Gerecht, the Agency for Jewish Learning’s new director of teen learning and overseer of J-SITE, has just revamped the Jewish educational experience for teens in Pittsburgh. View the article

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August 5, 2014, “Carpe Diem: Let’s Get the Movement Together”: Ed Frim writes for eJewish Philanthropy on innovation and change in Jewish education. New and exciting programs and experiments are proliferating, and many other experiential and project based learning models in synagogues and other settings meet the needs of families and inspire children and parents. These efforts are not only engaging families and students they are beginning to shape the future of Jewish life in North America. View the article

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July 19, 2014, “The number seven: lucky for me, powerful for Israel”: Efrat Avramovich, an Israel Education Specialist, shares seven reasons why it is important to engage in Israel education, based on her seven years working in Pittsburgh as an Israel educator; she also shares some learned lessons on how to do it correctly. View the article

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April 20, 2014, “Diller Teens come to town, use unique experience to bond”: The Diller Teens program encourages teens to find their identity and be active in the Jewish community by bringing them to America from Israel and vice versa. The 15-month program promotes workshops that focus on leadership, tikkun olam, Judaism and Jewish identity, and Israel. Partnering agencies in the project are the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh and the Agency for Jewish Learning..  |  View the article

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May 14, 2014, “Back to the future: Early childhood education”: Carolyn Linder, AJL’s Director of Early Childhood programs, writes an op-ed on the ties between quality Jewish early education, and planning for the Jewish future.  |  View the article

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April 4, 2014, “Something to Sing About”: Nine talented teens from Pittsburgh’s Jewish community were among a group from across the United States and Israel that participated in the 21st annual “Gala Concert of HaZamir: The International Jewish High School Choir,” March 30 at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Pittsburgh’s HaZamir Chapter is sponsored by the Agency for Jewish Learning.  |  View the article

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March 26, 2014: Have rumors of the “Death of Congregations” been greatly exaggerated? Rabbi Scott Aaron, AJL Community Scholar, addresses the key issues in this eJewish Philanthropy news story: “Judaism has survived all of these millennia because of our ability to adapt in the face of adversity and American congregations are doing the same. Regular readers of eJewishPhilanthropy and other media outlets know that there are bold experiments underway across the country...” View the article

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2013

November 28, 2013: Chris Herman’s new position as Coordinator of Pittsburgh's Diller Teen Fellows program is highlighted in the Jewish Chronicle. The Diller Teen Fellows program is a 15- month international leadership experience for Jewish teens. In his position, Herman will develop both a 10-day visit for the Israeli teens to Pittsburgh in April, and a three-week summer seminar in Israel in July, in addition to ongoing educational programs on a regular basis throughout the year. View the article

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November 14, 2013: J-Serve, Jewish Teens in Community Service, received the 2013 Awards for Philanthropy for “Outstanding Youths,” from the Western Pennsylvania chapter of the national Association of Fundraising Professionals for their efforts: 250 teens, 750 volunteer hours, to 17 service sites across Pittsburgh, working in areas including hunger, homelessness, medical care, and more. Hear the J-Serve nominees on YouTube  |  View a slideshow of photos

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October 16, 2013: eJewish Philanthropy, an online magazing for the professional Jewish community, published an article describing AJL’s successes with engaging Jewish families. Read more

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October 9, 2013: The first Pittsburgh cohort of local communal professionals has completed a rigorous Master of Arts in Jewish Professional Studies (MAJPS) program designed to develop their Jewish knowledge and prepares them to lead Jewish organizations. View the article

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September 12, 2013, “JCC’s new Early Childhood Development Center showcased” Ed Frim, executive director of the Agency for Jewish Learning, said his agency touted the Reggio Emilia philosophy to the JCC, and provided expertise helpful in implementing it and training JCC instructors. “We brought them expert consultants, both in the Reggio area and in the Judaic areas, and we’ve helped to move the way they see their work and actually their world, and that has resulted in the way the program has changed,” Frim said. View the article

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Gabe Goldman, Director of Teen Experiential EducationJune 19, 2013: Welcome to Gabe Goldman, Director of Teen Experiential Education. Goldman will oversee J-SITE; his duties will also extend beyond providing formal education. A leader in Jewish environmental experiential education, he will focus on getting kids out of the classroom and onto the land to explore Judaism in a hands-on way. Goldman holds a doctorate in multicultural education. View the article

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Tikkun Leil ShavuotMay 23, 2013: The fourth annual Tikkun Leil Shavuot at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill brought together the full spectrum of Jewish association. Seventeen congregations participated and rabbis and scholars from Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist affiliations took part in 23 study sessions. View the article

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The Honrable Luke Rvenstahl, Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh, proclaimed June 9, 2013 as “Unsung Jewish Heroes Day,” in honor of AJL’s annual awards recognizing outstanding Jewish educatorsMay 20, 2013: The Honrable Luke Rvenstahl, Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh, proclaimed June 9, 2013 as “Unsung Jewish Heroes Day,” in honor of AJL’s annual awards recognizing outstanding Jewish educators. The proclamation reads in part: Whereas, the AJL works to nurture a thriving Jewish Community in the Greater Pittsburgh Area. AJL works to inspire students and families in our synagogues, connect teens with Jewish learning and community, and to engage families in Jewish life. We embrace the sacred legacy of lifelong Jewish learning and foster connections to Israel and the Jewish people. View the proclamation | View the Unsung Jewish Heroes page

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May 13, 2013, “J-SITE Graduation Day”: AJL's 2013 commencement and 60th Anniversary ceremony were held at Chatham University Chapel. About 100 graduates, friends, family and alumni gathered to celebrate AJL's 2013 graduating class as well as its successful existence for 60 years in Pittsburgh. View the article

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May 13, 2013, “Night of Jewish learning begins May 14”: The fourth annual Jewish learning celebration in western Pennsylvania, Tikkun Leil Shavuot, will take place Tuesday night, May 14, from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill. View the article

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May 1, 2013: Pittsburgh celebrates 60 years of Jewish teen engagement and education, from the College of Jewish Studies, to School of Advanced Jewish Education (SAJE), to the current J-SITE: “Jewish education for teens to mark 60 years here,” in The Jewish Chronicle.

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April 29, 2013: Read coverage of J-Serve 2013 in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Jewish teens fan out across Pittsburgh area for day of service,” and in The Jewish Chronicle, “May we serve you?”

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February 3, 2013: The Jewish Chronicle covered the February 2013 J-SITE screening and discussion of the film “Bully: The Movie.” Students and parents were invited to a screening of the film, followed by a discussion. The film is a documentary that follows the lives of five school-age children who face bullying on a daily basis. The film’s director said he hoped the film inspires advocacy, engagement, and empowerment not just in people who are being bullied and in their families, but by those who all too often stand by and do nothing. The Chronicle covered this event across four different articles: A campaign to end bullying and isolation in the community | Raising awareness | Bullying film, discussion sheds critical light on dangerous issue | War on bullying

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2012

June 3, 2012: The Jewish Chronicle covered the 2012 Tikkun Leil Shavuot, held at the Squirrel Hill Jewish Community Center. “Jews of all different denominations were standing nearly wall-to-wall on the first floor of the JCC as the fourth annual Shavuot program began. The holiday of Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. The festival includes all-night study of Torah and other religious texts.” | Read the article

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April 28, 2012: The Jewish Chronicle covered the annual J-Serve event, a worldwide day of service that brings Jewish teens together to learn and volunteer in their communities (“Jewish teens dedicate day to community service”). “The idea is to foster this connection for teens to the community they live in, so they understand that they need to give back,” said Nitsa Bucritz Ford, Teen Engagement Coordinator at the Agency for Jewish Learning. The Agency for Jewish Learning helps organize the event. | Read the article

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April 23, 2012: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette covered the annual J-Serve event, a worldwide day of service that brings Jewish teens together to learn and volunteer in their communities (“Jewish teens dedicate day to community service”). Almost 250 volunteers from throughout the Pittsburgh area donated a total of 625 service hours. The Agency for Jewish Learning helps organize the event. | Read the article

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April 6, 2012: AJL’s PJ Library enjoyed some news coverage in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (“PJ Library builds gateway to Jewish culture with free books for kids”). The PJ Library program in the Pittsburgh area is sponsored by the Jewish Federation, the JCC, AJL, and Community Day School. Locally, over 1,000 children in Pittsburgh from ages 6 months to 5-1/2 have received free books. Nationally, the program will mail its 3 millionth book next month. Read the article

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February 24, 2012: Local teens created the winning design for the J-Serve 2012 T-shirt design contest “Local Jewish teens win big in J Serve T shirt design contest.” Nitsa Bucritz Ford, AJL’ Teen Engagement Coordinator, is quoted. In Pittsburgh the AJL is one of the J-Serve organizing partners. J-Serve is an international event and the teens’ design was worn by over 10,000 teens world-wide.

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February 2012: Rabbi Scott Aaron is featured in an article about Jewish movements 'cross-pollinating' on learning initiatives. “When it comes to educating educators, Yeshiva University, the Jewish Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion are finding that collaboration has its benefits. 'The three schools are cross-pollinating,' said Rabbi Scott Aaron, community scholar for the Agency for Jewish Learning. 'They're saying education should not be siloed.'" Read the article

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February 2012: AJL commended for its community efforts in working with autism-spectrum youth: “Like any Jewish mother, Jillian Zacks just always assumed that when the time came, her twins, Max and Paige Duhl, would celebrate their b’nai mitzva by leading services for their congregation. While both children are on the autism spectrum, which has presented some challenges, they are now ready and able to ascend the bima this April to lead Saturday evening services, as well as havdala, as b’nai mitzva at Temple Ohav Shalom in the North Hills. Read more: The Jewish Chronicle - “Twins on autism spectrum to mark b’nai mitzva.” Read the article

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Earlier news stories

January 2011: AJL Executive Director and President co-wrote a Letter to the Editor at The Jewish Chronicle responding to a story in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on a high school student's alienation from his Jewish heritage. Read the article

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August 2011: AJL's Beth R. Goldstein, director of our teen programming, was featured in an article on J-SITE's sponsorship of the HaZamir teen choir: “Teenagers in grades eight through 12 who are interested in singing can participate in HaZamir: the International Jewish High School Choir. Teenagers who like to dance can join Pittsburgh’s first Jewish Israeli dance troupe. Both groups will rehearse concurrently on Sunday afternoons at the JCC in Squirrel Hill. “We are hoping to create a space for Jewish performing artists to meet and create art together every week,” said Goldstein, director of teen education at the Agency for Jewish Learning.” | Read the article

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May 2011: University of Pittsburgh’s Jewish Studies Program notes alumna Michele Orr honored as a 2011 Unsung Jewish Hero | Read the article

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March 2011: The 2011 J-Serve day is highlighted in this Jewish Chronicle article. Read more: The Jewish Chronicle - Local Jewish teens join national day of youth service” | Read the article

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February 2011: AJL's Terry Feinberg Steinberg is highlighted in an article about Jewish Disability Awareness Month: “Nancy Langer understands the challenges of integrating a special needs child into the Jewish community. Her 8-year-old son, Martin, has autism. “It’s a struggle,” said the Mt. Lebanon resident, and member of Beth El Congregation of the South Hills. “But one thing I have noticed: I think there has been a move lately to pay more attention to the issue of including people with special needs.” Read more: The Jewish Chronicle - Jewish Disability Awareness Month means ‘inclusion’” | Read the article

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February 2010: Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion interviews AJL Scholar Rabbi Scott Aaron about how much we know about Jewish Learning | Read the article

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July 2009: The Jewish Chronicle featured an article about Rabbi Aaron Scott, the AJL’s new incoming Community Scholar, his thoughts on adult learning, and the importance of quality Jewish education. | Read the article

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February 2009: The Mothers Circle, then new to Pittsburgh, was featured in The Jewish Chronicle. The article includes quotes and stories of the participating families. | Read the article

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