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(RNS) Aspiring teachers at the flagship universities of all three major Jewish movements are getting a boost from the Jim Joseph Foundation, through an $11.5 million grant to help train educators for the next generation of young Jews.
The foundation’s gift will be distributed over the next five years, split between the Orthodox movement’s Yeshiva University, the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary, and the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
All three universities, along with day schools, synagogues and Jewish charities across the country, have battled budget shortfalls due to the recession, exacerbated by investments lost to convicted Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff.
Hebrew Union College had considered closing one of its three American campuses earlier this year, but will instead try to cut costs through staff consolidation and other strategies.
The funds will provide financial aid for students pursuing education degrees or certification in programs to work with Jewish youth and young adults, and to help the universities attract more educators to the field, foundation officials said. As an additional condition, the foundation will also encourage the three institutions to collaborate on distance learning, marketing and recruitment initiatives.
“This grant addresses some of the most glaring needs in the American Jewish community,” said Rabbi David Ellenson, HUC president. “Increasing the quantity and quality of Jewish educators, and giving them the tools to do their jobs effectively, will have a profound and immediate impact on Jewish life.”
Arnold Eisen, the chancellor of JTS, agreed.
“The quality of future heads of school, teachers and educational leaders in Jewish education will improve directly because of this funding,” he said. “They will contribute greatly to the future of North American Jewry.”
By Nicole Neroulias
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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