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Why CASJE? - Amy Skopp Cooper

October 20, 2016
Amy Skopp Cooper is the National Associate Director of the Ramah Camping Movement and the Director of Ramah Nyack, a position she has held for 20 years. Amy holds a BA in Jewish History and Philosophy from Hebrew University and an MA in Jewish Education and Jewish Communal Service from Brandeis University. Amy is a 2011 recipient of the Covenant Award. 
 
My work as a practitioner is rooted in a strong belief in our Jewish future and in Jewish peoplehood. I strive to nurture, teach, mentor and empower children and young adults. I’m passionate about creating Jewish environments that are authentic, vibrant and pluralistic. 
 
Those who work in high pressured, intense and mission driven educational environments — such as camps and schools — are well aware that some decisions are made based on anecdotal evidence, years of  professional experience and a confidence that our intuition is correct. We often rely on our “gut”— that voice within that drives our creative and educational engine. 
 
Yet it is often the case that intuition can be improved with the addition of reliable, practical, action-oriented research. The myriad anecdotal observations that we make as practitioners can be, and often are, magnified and clarified by academic research. Practitioners and researchers can help one another, informing one another’s work through applied studies. 
 
This is why I joined CASJE. As practitioners, applied research can sometimes provide us with a reassuring “aha” moment, that validates and confirms our work. Applied research can also enable us to be more reflective about our strategic planning, informing policy and institutional direction. Of particular interest was a recent CASJE article on the topic of Hebrew education: “Hebrew Infusion at American Jewish Summer Camps” (by Sarah Bunin Benor). This research pushed our team to think even more critically about our usage of Hebrew at camp, and how we might distinguish between “infusion” and “immersion.”  CASJE’s research had a real impact on our educational decisions. 

 

Perhaps most importantly: CASJE constructs a critical space where key stakeholders — including funders, researchers and practitioners — can reflect, debate, and improve the field of Jewish education overall.