Greensboro, NC – B’nai Shalom Day School in Greensboro, NC received a $20,000 Ignition Grant for God Expansion from the Jewish Education Innovation Challenge (JEIC) in 2020 to support its “Planting God-Expansive Idea Seeds” program.
JEIC Ignition Grants jump-start new or developing out-of-the-box programs that improve Jewish education in day schools. JEIC is expanding the Ignition Grants program for the 2020-2021 academic year to advance distinctive, enduring approaches for elevating and deepening the God-student relationship.
The school will engage a respected artist and lecturer to teach about God as part of professional development, curriculum development, and student experiences. The program will follow the school’s vision of teaching students to embrace their lineage as “God wrestlers” through text, tefillah (prayer), and trust-building conversations. Family education is also part of the design as is support and spiritual development for the staff.
Rabbi-in-Residence Rebecca Ben-Gideon explained, “Middle-schoolers are at a unique moment in their religious development. Even as they prepare for b’nei mitzvah, they question everything they have been taught and push back against authority and hypocrisy. This moment is a unique opportunity to use students’ desire to wrestle with questions about God and to find ideas that resonate with their own experience.”
“Using multiple modalities that touch both the head and heart, students will explore diverse understandings of God that feel authentic to their personal experiences and perspectives,” she continued.
“We will give middle-school students at B’nai Shalom Day School an intellectually and spiritually rich space to reflect deeply on their understanding of God, articulate a developing personal relationship with the Divine, and to radically expand their portfolio of Jewish ideas that can inform and ground their personal God relationships through a semester of text-study, experiences, tefillah, and reflection.”
Over the past seven years, JEIC has supported more than 30 Jewish day schools’ innovations aimed at reigniting students’ passion for Jewish learning and improving the way Jewish values, literacy, practice and belief are transferred to the next generation. In addition to innovations funded through both Ignition Grants and Ignition Grants for God Expansion, many other previously-piloted educational models are available for scaling and implementing with JEIC’s investment of financial support and programmatic resources.
The Jewish Education Innovation Challenge (JEIC) is a bold initiative to catalyze radical change in Jewish day schools across North America. By collaborating with educators, funders, influencers, and consumers JEIC challenges day schools to optimize student internalization of Jewish wisdom, identity, and decision making in the modern world. Initiated in 2012 and incubated by the Mayberg Foundation, JEIC draws support through multiple philanthropic partners in its pursuit of lasting school change through directed funding, philanthropic partnerships, impactful conferences, and innovative educational enterprises.
The B’nai Shalom Day School was founded in 1970. Our mission is to provide a caring, supportive school community in which students achieve academic excellence in a dual curriculum that inspires each student to develop his/her fullest potential as an inquisitive learner, critical thinker, and future Jewish leader.