The “Mapping the Market” (MTM) strand of CASJE’s study of Recruitment, Retention and Development of Jewish Educators (RRDoJE) was conceived with the goal of shedding light on the Jewish educationmarketplace. MTM planned to document what job opportunities exist in Jewish education, what skills and aptitudes employers across various sectors seek in the Jewish educators they hire, and the ways in which individuals who function as Jewish educators are prepared for and nurtured to work effectively in the field.
The early stages of work on MTM have provided an opportunity to learn how certain sectors of Jewish have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hiring practices serve as a barometer of institutional health, and this is certainly true at the present moment: they shed light on what employers seek to achieve at a given point in time, what demand they anticipate for their services and products, and what help they expect their staff will need in order to succeed.
During July and August 2020, our team conducted focus groups with 75 individuals responsible for hiring Jewish educators in sectors whose primary function is to provide either formal Jewish education or informal/experiential Jewish education (RRDoJE’s Sectors 1 and 2); our sample included heads of day schools, early childhood directors, educational directors at congregations, directors of overnight and day camps, JCC directors, directors of youth-serving organizations, and Hillel directors. We also spoke with three informants well placed to observe the labor market in some of these sectors. During the course ofthese focus groups and interviews, we explored the extent to which and the ways in which hiring needs and hiring practices had been impacted by COVID-19. Exploring the marketplace for Jewish educators, we opened a window on the current state of the broader landscape of Jewish education. This memo shares what we learned.