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NewCAJE14 Experience

(From left) Teacher Elizabeth DaCosta Kaufman and Ramona Brand meet a colleague from Virginia Beach at the conference.

Temple Beth-El teacher Elizabeth DaCosta attended the NewCAJE14 (Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education Conference) this summer with Ramona Brand.

NewCAJE is a yearly conference for professionals from across the spectrum of Jewish Education that draws participants from around the United States and internationally.

In the following reflection, she shares her experience as a first-time attendee.

By Elizabeth DaCosta

Participating in the NewCAJE14 Workshop in Montclair, New Jersey, this summer was a dream come true!!

I first learned about CAJE many years ago through Fern Kaufman, a friend and a former Beth-El Hebrew School Teacher.  Her enthusiasm was infectious. So, when the opportunity to attend a CAJE workshop presented itself, I jumped at the chance!

And, I would like to thank Temple Beth-El, The Jewish Community Federation of Richmond, and Ramona Brand, my supervisor, for their encouragement and sponsorship, which enabled me to attend!


Ramona Brand teaches a class at the conference.


At NewCAJE14, I was amazed at the wide range of activities that were available!  And I was impressed with the depth of knowledge and expertise of the presenters and was grateful for their willingness to share.  Initially, I went looking to expand my teaching repertoire, so  I could make my classes more interesting and meaningful for my students!  And I found that and so much more!

Listening to some of the Rabbis and other presenters speak just whetted my appetite.   And I want to learn more.  It was humbling—realizing how little I know and it makes me wish that I had a few more lifetimes in which to study and learn…

At NewCAJE, there was always something do!   We would get up, get breakfast, attend morning classes of our choice, have lunch, attend afternoon classes of our choice, and have dinner.

And after dinner, there was entertainment, and even late-night Kumsitz sessions.   And throughout it all, there was Music!  Beautiful, music to fill, enrich and uplift the soul!  Music to take home and teach to our students!

And the fellowship was wonderful.  Meeting, getting to know other participants, and making new friends from all over the country was exciting.  Discussing new ideas during classes or over a meal helped to build relationships and friendships.

One of my favorite activities was the “NYC Immigrant Experience” in which a small group traveled to New York and visited the area in which most new Jewish immigrants lived and attended Shul.

We visited two synagogues, (The Eldridge Street Synagogue and Museum and The Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum), and a tenement museum.

A Greek Synagogue, (Pictured above) The Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue is the only Romaniote Synagogue in the Western Hemisphere!

It was founded in 1906 by Greek-Speaking Romaniote Jews who needed their own place to hold Shabbat and Holiday Services.  So, on our jaunt, we learned a little history, walked a little around town, and returned to CAJE, excited about all that we had seen and learned!

I thoroughly enjoyed my NewCAJE14 experience.  Again, I thank those who helped make my trip possible—Temple Beth-El, The Jewish Community Federation of Richmond, and my boss, Ramona Brand.  And I look forward next year to NewCAJE15 in San Diego, CA!!