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Why CASJE? - Chip Edelsberg

In this new feature, members of the CASJE Advisory Board write about why they got involved in Jewish education and how they see CASJE as contributing to the field.

This first post is from Charles "Chip" Edelsberg, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Jim Joseph Foundation. Previously, Chip served as Director of Endowments and Vice President for the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland where he provided leadership for $750 million of grantmaking. He was Executive Director of the historic Temple Tifereth Congregation as well. Chip has served on a number of Boards and Advisory Committees in the Jewish community, including the Jewish Funders Network and Jewish Communal Service Association of North America. He also currently serves on the Boards for the Leadership Pipelines Alliance, iCenter, and the Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education (CASJE). Dr. Edelsberg writes widely on such topics as relational philanthropy, effective grantmaking, approaches to building the field of Jewish education, and educational leadership.

The Jim Joseph Foundation believes that one potentially promising way to reposition the future of Jewish education for accelerated improvement is to create bodies of evidence emerging from rigorous applied educational research that inform practice. Moreover, the Foundation hypothesizes that if the nature of the relationship between academician and practitioner was fundamentally restructured, Jewish education would be enriched. “What is needed is a profession that constantly and collectively builds its knowledge base and corresponding expertise, where practices and their impact are transparently tested, developed, circulated, and adapted” (Fullan and Hargreaves).

The current lack of a repository of evidence-based research and evaluation on Jewish education hampers the field. It makes for unnecessary and costly duplication of effort. It creates barriers for establishing commonly accepted curriculum, instruction, and student assessment standards. Most importantly, perhaps, it detracts from efforts to professionalize Jewish education.

CASJE creates the opportunity for Foundations to make a long-term investment building the field of Jewish education with grants bringing researchers and scholar-educators together to examine persistent problems of practice. Long-term, success of CASJE would result in a field which has sources of capital — research, new knowledge, upgraded practice, and renewable cycles of funding — that bespeak a much more highly efficacious funder, researcher, practitioner relationship.