The Ed-Men: Educational Game Changers Join "820"
by Shira Dicker
As part of its ongoing
revitalization effort, United
Synagogue recently welcomed
two new professionals
to "820" – its
continental headquarters in
New York City – who are charged with furthering
the mission and scope of the organization
as it heads toward its centennial
celebration in October 2013, and beyond.
They are Rabbi Jim Rogozen, the new
chief learning officer, and Rabbi David Levy,
the director of teen learning.
"The recent acquisition of two stellar and
visionary Jewish educators signals the dawning
of a new era of strengthened and
enhanced leadership," said United Synagogue
CEO Rabbi Steven Wernick. "The
sterling reputations of Rabbis Rogozen and
Levy precede them."
United Synagogue President Richard
Skolnik characterized the hiring of Rabbis
Rogozen and Levy as forward thinking.
He said, "The two share a unique ability
to strengthen the fabric of Conservative
Judaism from the inside out."
Rabbi Jim Rogozen has been a head of
school for 26 years, the last 19 of which
at the Gross Schechter Day School in Cleveland.
His position at United Synagogue is
a newly created one that is critical to its mission
and vision. He will create the strategy
and the direction for strengthening and
transforming the learning experiences of the
children and teens of affiliated kehillot,
As chief learning officer, Rogozen will
develop the learning strategy for United Synagogue
and lead, inspire and motivate personnel,
as well as manage and coordinate
the work of the directors of early and middle
childhood and teen learning.
"Having grown up in the movement and
raised kids in the movement, I believe there
are a heck of a lot of things we can do better,"
said Rabbi Rogozen. "The Conservative
movement is located in the passionate
center of Jewish life. Right now we're playing
defense. It's time to play offense."
"Instead of sounding a death knell about
Conservative Judaism, we must invest in
Jewish education now," added Rogozen.
"The money is there; it just needs to be redistributed.
No aspect of our Jewish lives is
so under the microscope, but the product
is measurable. Over the years, I've learned
what it means to evaluate and deliver that
Rogozen will be responsible for convening,
collaborating and creating synergies
with other centers of Conservative Judaism
to further the goals of strengthening and
transforming learning from early childhood
through adolescence. He begins his position
September 1, 2012.
For Rogozen the job offer arrived at the
right time. "I needed a new challenge, something
exciting that will have an impact on
the next generation."
Richard Skolnik reiterated the central
importance of Rogozen's role. "As the goal
of United Synagogue is to maximize the
engagement of children and youth and their
families in high quality Jewish learning experiences
– planting the seeds for a commitment
to life-long learning, Jewish values and
to the practice of Conservative Judaism –
this position is key," he explained.
Working alongside Rabbi Rogozen will
be Rabbi David Levy, the new director of
teen learning. "This is a new position focusing
on how United Synagogue strengthens
and transforms learning in Conservative
kehillot," said Rabbi Wernick. "Rabbi Levy
will create the strategy and the direction
of teen learning and drive the daily program
of today's teens that aligns with the vision
of United Synagogue."
"I couldn't be more excited or honored,"
said Levy. "I am a product of the incredible
work of Jules Gutin and USY, and I
am humbled to lead our teen efforts into
the future. The task before us is great, as
we enhance the capacity of our kehillot to
serve our teens and nurture them as the
future leaders of our movement. I am most
excited to meet and get to know our teens
and dream big with them, charting an exciting
future for them and, by extension, for
our movement and the world."
Levy comes to United Synagogue after
serving as the director of admissions for the
Rabbinical School and H. L. Miller Cantorial
School and College of Jewish Music
of the Jewish Theological Seminary. In this role, he traveled around the country teaching
and encouraging rising Jewish leaders.
"We could not have hoped for a better
candidate," said Skolnik. "Rabbi Levy possesses
a passion and devotion to teen enrichment,
learning and engagement. He is
committed to the observances of Conservative
Judaism and he has experience working
with and in kehillot."
In addition to his other responsibilities,
Levy will lead USY and Kadima. He will
create social experiences by tapping into the
networking that takes place among teens,
especially social networking; create a cadre
of outstanding youth professionals, nationally
and locally; ensure that professionals
have a strong Judaic background; and explore
potential partnerships with other organizations
and models. Rabbi Levy began his
position in early July.
Both Rabbis Levy and Rogozen come to
United Synagogue with impressive resumes
and their positions are complementary. As
Wernick explained, "There is a perfect interface
between their tasks and responsibilities.
Their positive influence will be felt in a broad
and holistic manner."