What Does Measuring Impact Have to Do with B’tzelem Elohim?
ShalomLearning is scaling up our programs and operations faster than we had anticipated.
Thanks to the transformative grants from The William Davidson Foundation and William and Audrey Farber Family foundations, over the past two years, we have grown our enrollment from 300 students in 15 synagogues in 6 states to over 2500 students in 50 congregations (with an 82% retention rate) now in 17 states.
Jewish educators need all the help and support they can get, and I am pleased to share that we have expanded our professional development network from 15 teachers to a sizable community of 256 trained educators that are signing into our LMS (Learning Management System) and sharing curriculum, resources and best practices.
Meanwhile, right now most of our students are engaged in our second unit-B’tzelem Elohim; the Jewish value of “Honoring the image of God in ourselves.” I love this value and its central expression of holiness when we are being our best selves. How? By living up to our endless capacity of helping one another; to sharpen our abilities to see the Divine presence in others.
Indeed, treating our fellow human beings with compassion, benevolence, and dignity is a central tenet of Judaism’s prime directive to “Love our neighbors as ourselves.” (Leviticus 19:18).
In last week’s Torah’s portion- we witnessed the culmination of creation when “God created man in His image. In the image of God He created him, male and female, he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
Many of our students ask about the repetition here with the holy word for creation (“Barah” in Hebrew). Why does the Torah repeat the ultimate creative act on the final 6th day in poetic re-phrasing of the same concept? Perhaps this too was an iterative process.
While doing anything holy, there is a profound effect, a rippling of goodness that is exponential in its positive charge. Our purpose as an organization is to meet the evolving educational needs of today’s Jewish community in a way that’s engaging, relevant, affordable and accessible in order to create an environment in which students, teachers, parents and the community experience Jewish values as a meaningful way to navigate the world.
I can see these positive vibrations of expansion when I look at these numbers. It is of the highest honor to serve you and every day of our work (even the tough stuff) is filled with Divine creative energy when you look for it. Thank you for being part of our impact. It is the highest honor to be part of this team teaching holiness, and thrilling to be able to witness numbers that help quantify our growth.
But it is the quality of honoring God’s image by living a meaningful life and expanding our capacity that make this work come alive.