The national group’s board voted Jan. 27 to enter formal discussions with the New York agency. In announcing the decision, Cass Gottlieb, board chair of JESNA, said her group has “developed a growing partnership with the Jewish Education Project, exemplified in initiatives like the Jewish Futures Conferences, DigitalJLearning, and work together on connecting educational innovators and established institutions. We have discovered that we share a vision for the future of Jewish life and learning and that our professional staffs respect one another and work together well. Given the similarity and scope of the missions that both agencies have set for themselves and the need to make maximally effective and efficient use of human, intellectual and financial resources, we believe that it makes sense to try to take our existing partnership to the next level …”
The leadership of the Jewish Education Project has agreed to bring JESNA’s offer to enter into formal discussions to its board within the next few weeks.
Established in 1982, JESNA has shrunk its staff, budget and mission significantly in the past four years, in part due to declining allocations from the Jewish federation system. Its annual budget is about half the $4.6 million budget of fiscal year 2009.
In August, it decided to narrow its focus to Hebrew schools and other part-time programs for children and teens.
Meanwhile, the Jewish Education Project, created in 2010 from the merger of the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York and Suffolk Association for Jewish Education Services, has been growing in size and influence.