Chidush: Inspiring Innovation in Jewish Education



JRC is transforming our Religious School with this dynamic, participatory program.

CHIdush wants to bring innovation to classrooms in synagogues around Chicago. By teaching rabbis, education directors and lay leaders the skills of innovation, the program hopes to invigorate congregation-based Jewish education, spark new ideas and approaches, and introduce the best practices used in schools around the country.

CHIdush – the name puts a Chicago spin on the Hebrew and Yiddish word for an innovative idea or insight – is a collaboration between the Jewish United Fund’s Community Foundation for Jewish Education and UpStart, a San Francisco-based national incubator for innovation in Jewish life with a growing Chicago hub. 

Using Design Thinking to Continually Improve our Program

Through a series of workshops and retreats, individualized coaching, networking and a customized mini-grant program, CHIdush will work with leadership teams at each synagogue over the next 18 months to develop new mindsets and skills that will empower them to create compelling educational experiences. Design thinking will be used to continually improve our Religious School even after the program ends. It focuses on identifying needs, not just solving problems. 

JRC is a Pioneering Congregation 

JRC is one of nine synagogue schools selected for the initial cohort of CHIdush: Anshe Emet Synagogue in Lakeview; Congregation Solel in Highland Park; Emanuel Congregation in Edgewater; Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston; Lakeside Congregation in Highland Park; North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe; Temple Beth Israel in Skokie; Temple Chai in Long Grove; and Temple Sholom of Chicago. CHIdush will aim to engage the whole JRC community in creating a new vision for our Religious School.

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Our enriching and diverse preschool program is based on progressive Jewish values, is open to families of all religious backgrounds, and focuses on the importance of relationships between students, teachers, and families. 

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The Religious School provides JRC children with the building blocks they need to engage throughout their lives in Jewish exploration, community and activism.

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The Green Synagogue and the Pillars of Chai


In 2008, we built the first platinum LEED-certified green synagogue in North America. The construction required 18 pillars - the number in Hebrew that also means "chai" or "life." 

Now, more than ten years later, JRC has launched the Pillars of Chai Campaign to raise $4.4m to wholly own our beloved building. 


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