In post-Oct. 7 world, actor Joshua Malina shares outlook for Jewish education

Nearly 400 attend The Jewish Education Project's spring event to learn how education can play a vital role in strengthening Jewish identity amid a new reality.

Actor/podcaster Joshua Malina (left) speaks with David Bryfman at The Jewish Education Project's spring event. Credit: Courtesy.
Actor/podcaster Joshua Malina (left) speaks with David Bryfman at The Jewish Education Project's spring event. Credit: Courtesy.

Actor and co-host of the “Unorthodox” podcast Joshua Malina (“West Wing,” “Scandal,” “Leopoldstadt”) joined the stage with David Bryfman, CEO of The Jewish Education Project, at the organization’s annual spring event to discuss the role of Jewish education in strengthening Jewish identity and the Jewish community in the wake of Oct. 7.

The nearly 400 people at the event learned how The Jewish Education Project has responded to support educators, learners and parents, and how it is leading new and expanding programs that will accelerate the field of Jewish education moving forward.

“One of the hardest things in the world, at least for me, is trying to feel anchored to the world, trying to feel like I know who I am or what I am,” Malina said at the event. “Well, every day I wake up and I know who I am and what I am … I’m a Jew. And that’s really helpful and enriching for me.”

The event also honored trailblazing lay leader Dammara Markowitz, and presented the 2024 Robert M. Sherman Young Pioneers Award Recipients.

The Jewish Education Project spring event leadership.
At the Jewish Education Project spring event are board president Lois Kohn-Claar; board vice president and spring event chair Karen Everett; honoree and board member Dammara Markowitz; spring event chair Tamar Remz; and organization CEO David Bryfman. Credit: Courtesy of the Jewish Education Project.

Highlights included the announcement of the New York Education Initiative, which provides educational resources and advocates for inclusiveness and a safe learning environment on behalf of Jews in New York City public schools, the expansion of RootOne, an immersive Israel education travel program for high school teens, and a series of spring delegation trips to Israel for more than 300 educators to bear witness to Oct. 7 so that they can share their experience with their learners back home.

Dammara Markowitz and Tamar Remz, Jewish Education Project
The Jewish Education Project honored lay leader Dammara Markowitz, left, shown with spring event chair Tamar Remz. Credit: Courtesy of the Jewish Education Project.

“Since Oct. 7, Jewish educators and leaders have and continue to support and guide young people through deeply challenging circumstances,” said David Bryfman, CEO of The Jewish Education Project. “We applaud their efforts and thank them deeply. They keep our communities thriving. We also need to think in entirely new ways — unafraid of change and innovation — about how we continue to make Jewish learning a relevant, meaningful part of people’s lives and empower children to stand up for their beliefs.”

Jewish Education Project Sherman young pioneer award
During the Jewish Education Project event several educators received the New York area Robert M. Sherman Young Pioneers Award. From left: Dammara Markowitz, honoree and board Member; Karen Everett, vice president and spring event chair; Shoshana Balk, Luria Academy; Alana Gelnick, SAR Academy; Jessica Jobanek, Beit Rabban Day School; Anya Morgulis, Temple Beth Israel; and Stessa Peers, Temple Beth Abraham. Credit: Courtesy of the Jewish Education Project.

Lois Kohn-Claar, president of The Jewish Education Project, added, “Educators have immense influence in helping children build the fortitude to stand up for their beliefs and embrace Judaism to live confident and meaningful Jewish lives. And while we could not have predicted the events of the past year, I’m so proud that The Jewish Education Project was not only poised to respond when tens of thousands of educators and parents turned to us for support, but we’re also charting the future of Jewish education with bold, new initiatives.”

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The Jewish Education Project’s mission is to inspire and empower educators to create transformative Jewish experiences. For over 100 years, the Jewish Education Project has been supporting educators to build strong Jewish communities. Originally the Board of Jewish Education, the Jewish Education Project is a national center for Jewish education. It leads in incubating and developing innovative new models in the field, and provides professional development and resources to educators in early-childhood centers, congregations, day schools and yeshivot, youth programs and emerging spaces.
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