Announcing: Distance Learning for Jewish Educators

Posted by Rabbi Goldie Milgram |

The Reclaiming Judaism
Institute for Jewish Spiritual Education



Both 2018 programs begin
with shared distance learning on OCTOBER 10

Principles, methods and resources drawn from a body of work featured by
the Jewish Futures Conference and the National Jewish Book Council
with faculty and content honored by the Covenant Foundation

1. B'nei Mitzvah Educator/Tutor/Mentor Certification (see below) 
2. Maggid-Educatorâ„  Training Program (see below)

For principals, teachers, JCC, Hillel, and camp staff, storytellers, librarians, clergy, 
non-profit and foundation staff, tutors, mentors, and freelance Jewish educators
from across the spectrum of Jewish life 


Faculty: Batya Podos, Dean. Judith Black, Goldie Milgram (founder), Cherie Karo Schwartz, Peninnah Schram*, Mindy Shapiro, Danny Siegel, Cassandra Sagan, and Cathy Schechter.

The B'nei Mitzvah Specialist and Maggid-Educator Training Program both begin with 8 weeks of shared distance-learning on Oct 10, 2018.

8 weeks, 1.5 hours/class interactive videoconference learning plus one-to-one mentoring, chevruta and fieldwork support: $359, plus books and materials.
Plus 4-day weekend residential retreat, Room, board, tuition (fee will be what the retreat center will charge.) $399 inclusive save for transportation.

The time for creating "little rabbis and cantors for a day" has passed. In this age of isolation and rapidly rising rates of depression, students need the precious and rare one-to-one and class sessions with tutors, mentors, teachers and clergy to focus on ensuring they have a healthy Jewish lens for living. This is the age for shifting from childhood to young adulthood and our principles and methods of Jewish spiritual education provide effective new approaches. We will provide vision, offer and invite case studies, deliver and discuss example goals, one-to-one and group approaches to guiding B'nei Mitzvah journeys, lesson plans and materials that are in unlocked Word files that you can customize to your setting, as well as new approaches to rituals, boundary-setting, dynamic Torah study and divrei Torah, tikkun olam, community building in this age range, and much more. This free-standing B-Mitzvah!SM unit also gives you the option of applying to continue with one semester of advanced standing in the Maggid-Educator Training. 

Maggid-EducatorSM Training (certification/ordination options) reclaims the traditional role of maggid as a master educator who inspires, engages, and guides the students of all ages on their Jewish journeys.
2 years--Certification with option to apply for a 3rd year for Maggid-Educator Ordination

1.5 hours/class/32 weeks/year of interactive videoconference learning plus one-to-one mentoring, chevruta and fieldwork support: $1499/year, plus books and materials.
Plus annual week-long summer retreat, based on whatever the retreat center charges plu $799 tuition.

Trainees become professional sacred storytellers who educate and guide, developing a substantial repertoire of more than fifty Jewish spiritual practices (mitzvot) that are paired with professional methods of storytelling, a repertoire of sacred and contemporary stories, text study,  tikkun olam/project-based learning approaches, Hashpa'ah (Jewish spiritual guidance and development) practices drawn from Mussar, InterPlay(TM), meditation and the arts, and curriculum development.

Designed as a two-year certificate program or three-year Maggid-Oman (Maggid-Educator) ordination training, this program is comprised of weekly video-conference classes, annual retreat intensives, and regular face-to-face video-conference field-work supervision, storytelling and rites of passage coaching, and mentoring with our faculty of master teachers.

Our program weaves together multiple modalities as follows:

Our goal for MAGGID is to ensure that you attain a substantial repertoire of relevant traditional and contemporary mitzvah and mussar stories, along with advancing your storytelling skills into the guidance dimension associated with maggidut.

Our goal for MITZVAH and TIKKUN OLAM is to deepen your own practice and capacity to connect students to at least fifty of these life-affirming spiritual practices that support healthy relationships while providing a life affirming and enriching Jewish lens for daily living.

Our goal for MUSSAR is to prepare you to serve by learning the primary mindfulness practices as developed by the gentle, empowering and deep Kelm School of Mussar.

Our goal for HASHPA'AH, Jewish spiritual guidance and development, is supporting your own spiritual development through classical methods, as well as those derived from InterPlay (TM) and the contemplative and expressive arts. You will also receive support in reflecting upon and fine-tuning these applications to 
ensure your students are supported, seen, heard, connected, engaged, and enlivened through a Jews lens by you as their educator.

Our goal for 
CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT, is to ensure you will have the skills and support you need to seamlessly integrate your learning into your worksite.

                                 EXAMPLE OF A MAGGID-EDUCATOR SM IN ACTION                                               

The educator turns to the students saying: "Let me tell you a story!" The way that the educator tells the story turns on a light in each soul. The mitzvah being explored is "lo tikom—to refrain from holding a grudge" and the middah (ethical attribute) is savlanut—patience."

The educator gives them InterPlay movements, sounds and gestures to express the feeling of a grudge, and then invites their personal "grudge" stories. Almost every hand goes up to share—from the youngest to the eldest. As the educator guides the soulful exploration of personal experience—burdens begin to lift. The light of Torah, mitzvah-centered lives, shines through the radiant faces and body language of all present.

Returning to the text for the mitzvah and middah, the students dive in—for now they understand from the inside! Soon a tikkun olam approach emerges, as students are invited and guided to imagine, plan and implement ways to bring their learning experience into action.

What Our Trainees are Saying:

A new world opened. JSE is the new paradigm for training Jewish educators working with all ages and in all Jewish learning and living settings. You will use everything you learn. While I really didn't have the time to do thisI'm so glad I did!" 
Danielle Kassin, Director of Education, Sinai Temple Religious School, L.A.

"Maggid-Educator training complements the more traditional forms of Jewish educator training by addressing the spiritual aspects of our own — and our students’ — lives. My constituency responds very positively."
—Paul Solyn, Executive Director, Jewish Center and Federation of the Twin Tiers, Elmira, N.Y.

"Telling a story is one thing, but telling a story in a way that stays with students is a really magical thing. It has been an honor to learn from the master teachers of the Maggid-Educator program. Storytelling is the doorway, which together with the other six areas of concentration we are learning has transformed my teaching. 
 Chana Stein, Teacher, Jewish High School of Connecticut, Stamford, CT
"Empowers us to access and strengthen our gifts and talents; to be supported to grow professionally and personally in amazing ways."
Rhonda Lillianthal, Director, Center for Jewish Life, JCC of MetroWest, N.J.

"I've learned so much that is wonderful and applicable. I'm a different teacher now and in so many ways a different person because of this training! And in such a deep context of respectful pluralism. Gave me an awesome chevra of creative, committed colleagues!" 
--Helene Kates, co-Founder of the Baal Shem Tones, Cantorial Student, Freelance Educator, Atlanta, GA

Futher information and application upon request. Partial scholarships are available. Rolling admissions process. Contact Batya Podos, Dean.


Rabbi Goldie Milgram, D.Min., M.H.L., MSW,  is the founder and Executive Director of Reclaiming Judaism Institute for Jewish Spiritual Education and the Maggid-Educator Training Program. 

Rabbi Milgram has worked at every level of Jewish education–-religious school teacher, principal, day school high school-co-founder, youth groups director, BJE executive, and for camps, pulpits, JCCs, campuses, as an educational consultant, Federation executive, member of university and seminary faculties, and as a seminary dean.

Rabbinic graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, "Reb Goldie"  subsequently also received private smicha, ordination from her teacher Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z"l as rabbi, maggid (sacred storyteller), mashpia (spiritual guide) and shaliach (emissary)

A Covenant Award finalist for Jewish educational innovation and excellence, and also a widely published author, her newest works are Seeking and Soaring: Jewish Approaches to Spiritual Guidance and Development and Reclaiming Bar/Bat Mitzvah as a Spiritual Rite of Passage.

"Reb Goldie" presently teaches Hashpa'ah--Jewish spiritual guidance and development for the Maggid-Educator Training Program.

Batya Podos, Dean of the Maggid-Educator Training Program is an ordained Maggidah-Omanit-- educator, storyteller and guide in the Jewish tradition, earlier ordained Maggidah by Rabbi David Zaslow and Maggidah Debra Gordon Zaslow. A Reclaiming Judaism Maggid-Educator Training Program faculty member specializing in curriculum development, her career spans over thirty years as a middle school drama/language arts director, artist-in-residence, educational consultant, counselor, and youth director. Her work extends across a broad spectrum of settings, denominations, and age groups in the roles of principal, teacher, B’nei mitzvah educator, service leader and Torah teacher for Shabbat and holy days, and scholar-in-residencies for Shabbatonim.  

 Batya Podos is also one of the founders of Abraham’s Tent, an interfaith summer camp for Jewish, Christian and Muslim children. Among Batya's recent publications are: Rebecca and the Talisman of Time (Portal Center Press), a novel for middle school students, and works in New Mitzvah Stories for the Whole Family (Reclaiming Judaism Press) and The Language of Life, by Milt Markewitz, an exploration of the energetic patterns of the Hebrew letters. Presently a resident of Portland, Oregon, she can be reached at

Cherie Karo Schwartz, our Dean of Stories, has received Omanit HaSippur ordination from the Institute for Jewish Spiritual Education, she also holds an MA in Developmental Theater. She is also a storyteller, author, and educator living in Denver. She has shared stories with audiences of all ages throughout America and abroad for forty years. She shares a kaleidoscope of spirit-filled tales of wishes, wisdom, and wit drawn from worldwide Jewish folklore, sacred texts, family folklore, original stories and modern midrashim. Cherie offers storytelling performances, master classes, workshops and keynotes for conferences, organizations, museums, storytellers, schools, and libraries world-wide. She was co-founding coordinator of the international Jewish Storytelling Network of CAJE, following her heart-friend-in-story Peninnah Schram. Cherie has authored three books, numerous recordings and articles.
Judith Black, one of America’s foremost storytellers is grounded in Jewish roots, from which she retells history from new perspectives, tickles familial dysfunction, offers ironic explorations of aging, and calls people to pay attention to their planet. As a Wheelock College graduate and professional teacher, she is able to draw storytelling through the educational landscape, showing its profound uses in cognitive, emotional, and social learning. Featured on stages from the Montreal Comedy Festival to The Smithsonian Institution, the National Storytelling Festival, and over 12 CAJE conferences, she is the winner of the Oracle Award, storytelling’s most coveted laurel, and was recently given the Brother Blue and Ruth Hill Award. Judith also sings, gardens, is a Rotarian and environmental activist.

Cassandra Sagan is an ordained Maggid-Educator who has devoted her life to helping others access their creative brilliance through poetry, storytelling, movement, and Torah. For twenty years Cassandra taught as a Poet in the Classroom, pre-schoolers through high school, adults and seniors; in gifted, new immigrant, and special needs classrooms; editing and producing almost 100 volumes of student writing. An ukulele toting singer/songwriter, Cassandra performs a weave of original and traditional songs and stories, while encouraging audience participation and individual expression. She is also a mosaic artist, an InterPlay leader, and has developed InterPlay Torah study, a playful approach to personal midrash, insight, and embodied Torah. She is also a contributing author to New Mitzvah Stories for the Whole Family.

Danny Siegel is best known for bringing the discussion of Tzedakah and doing of Tikkun Olam back into Jewish communities. He is a brilliant finder of the perfect teaching sections of sacred texts and guide to their study. A well-known author, lecturer, and poet, Danny has spoken in more than 500 North American Jewish communities on personalized Tzedakah, Mitzvah heroes, and Jewish values. He is the author of numerous books, including Danny Siegel’s Bar and Bat Mitzvah Mitzvah Book: A Practical Guide For Changing the World Through Your Simcha; Heroes and Miracle Workers, a collection of essays about everyday people who are Mitzvah Heroes; Who, Me? Yes, You! — Danny Siegel’s Workbook To Help You Decide Where, When, Why, and How You Can Do Your Best Tikkun Olam; and Giving Your Money Away — How Much, How to, Why, When, and to Whom: Danny Siegel’s Practical Guide to Personalized Tzedakah. He has also published several collections of poetry and children’s stories. Danny served as the Tzedakah Resource Person on the United Synagogue Youth Israel Pilgrimage for 37 years, and is a recipient of the prestigious Covenant Award for Exceptional Jewish Educators.

Cathy Schechter is an ordained Maggid-Educatorand community educator, also serves as a Jewish comunity educator, writer and researcher. After over a dozen years of Talmud study with the late Rabbi Judith Abrams, Cathy earned her Masters in Jewish Studies from Hebrew College. She is also an alumna of Pardes Institute. Cathy's stories often spring from the deep well of Talmud and rabbinic literature, in the hopes that their timeless observations and lessons about Jewish life and learning will find their way into our modern landscape to offer sustenance, hope, insight, and laughter.


Mindy Shapiro, M.A, is a Jewish communal professional with 30 years of experience. She was the founding director of Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing!, a program of Moving Traditions. She has also worked for other Jewish organizations including Hillel of Greater Philadelphia, International Hillel and the Gershman Y. Mindy has been studying  Mussar with Rabbi Stone since 2003 and teaching since 2009. Mussar provides her with a framework for leading a more mindful life, something she helps others to do. She is also a papercut artist and teacher. Mindy serves on the editorial team for the next release from Reclaiming Judaism Press, in honor of Danny Siegel: New Mitzvah Stories for the Whole Family.

The JSE Program and Curriculum was founded, developed and first taught by: Rabbi Goldie Milgram with Batya Podos, Cassandra Sagan, Cherie Karo Schwartz, Peninnah Schram, Mindy Shapiro, and Danny Siegel.

Applications are now available on a rolling admissions basis for this primarily distance-learning program. The next group begins October 10, 2018. For information or an application, contact Batya Podos, Dean.