NEW YORK — The Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education will close at the end of this month.
Last week’s e-mail announcement came a month after CAJE, the New York-based organization that for 30 years has been the primary professional development organization for congregational and Hebrew school teachers, said it would not hold its annual conference.
CAJE said in the e-mail that it could no longer survive in this economic climate.
Its annual conference on Jewish education drew some 1,000 educators, but in January, CAJE said it would not hold this year’s event because local Jewish agencies could not afford to send teachers to participate and the organization could not drum up enough funding to pay for the conference.
In the e-mail, CAJE said it was seeking funds to pay off some $500,000 in debt incurred to hold conferences over the past several years.
“It is a major tragedy for Jewish education, and I think it will be missed,” CAJE executive director Jeffrey Lasday told JTA.
“Now we have to look at how local and national organizations can be working closer together. My colleagues at other agencies say their agencies are closing down or losing staff. This is an opportunity to rethink how we work together to better education with national and local organizations,” he said. “Now is the time to rethink the whole thing.”
Seymour Epstein, UJAFederation of Greater Toronto’s senior vice-president for the Mercaz and a CAJEfounder, said the imminent closing is “a serious loss.”
In addition to giving educators in Jewish schools “a sense of community across the border” through its annual conferences, CAJE produced “wonderful [resource] materials,” said Epstein.
The organization – which has had 136 Canadian members since 2005, including about 50 in the past year – is working closely with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) in the hope that there will be “a CAJE-type conference” in 2010, Lasday told The CJN.
With files from Frances Kraft