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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEI-B)

December 2023

Professional Development that Supports Educators and Empowers Learners

ShalomLearning has always been committed to the professional development of our educators. We know that Jewish educators are the backbone of our community and have the power to shape the future of our learners.

We offer a range of programs and resources, including training, a community of practice, and special webinars, to continually support our educators. We recently hosted a special webinar series focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI-B).

The Importance of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEI-B)

As our communities become increasingly more diverse, our need to foster an inclusive environment that makes everyone feel respected and welcome becomes increasingly more important.

Equity and inclusion challenges exist everywhere in our society. As antisemitism and Jewish hate rise, many Jews struggle to feel welcome in workplaces, neighborhoods, and other communities. While we can’t solve every DEI-B challenge, we do want to make sure our Jewish classrooms embrace our Jewish values and provide a welcoming and inclusive community everyone, including the LGBTQ+ community.

Understanding DEI-B Principles

ShalomLearning collaborated Keshet and Matan to provide our educators with a two-part series on foundational DEI-B principles, including:   

  • Creating a welcoming and inclusive classroom community
  • Understanding and addressing LGBTQ+ identity and belonging

The interactive sessions were designed to help educators apply DEI-B principles to their classrooms using the ShalomLearning Jewish Values curriculum. We asked participants “Which of the ShalomLearning values do you want to cultivate in your classroom/ community? How does LGBTQ+ inclusion align with your core values?” 

The first session focused on teaching foundational DEI-B principles in the context of a Jewish classroom. Participants discussed classroom norms and how to use biblical Hebrew language to encourage inclusion. Applying Jewish text is a key part of Jewish practice and excepts like the below provide great opportunities to discuss gender inclusion.  

Applying DEI-B Principles to Specific Lesson Plans

The second session built upon these foundational principles and helped educators apply their learnings to a specific lesson plan.  Focusing on the fourth-grade Koach HaDibbur (Power of Words) value, participants actively collaborated to develop content and facilitation strategies that promote greater inclusivity for LGBTQ+ students.

Interactive activities and discussions included:

  • Visualizing the Power of Words: Through a drawing activity, participants learned how to create a non-gendered figure outline. By tearing off pieces, reassembling them, and observing the “scars” remaining from where tha paper was torn, participants saw how using certain words to describe a person can be hurtful.
  • Expanding Beyond Kindness: We discussed how to move from simply being “kind” to being mindful in language choice, including international variations in language, potential biases, and sensitivities towards others’ identities.
  • Making Connections: Participants brainstormed ways to make the lesson more relevant and relatable to their students, including how the power of inclusive language extends to digital communication like memes.
  • Normalizing Pronouns:  Educators discussed how encouraging students to introduce themselves by name and explicitly share their pronouns can normalize pronoun usage and set the tone for a respectful, gender-inclusive space.

These sessions provided educators with specific tools, such as how to use differentiated instruction to increase engagement. The collaborative nature of the sessions enabled educators to work together to learn multiple means of engagement, representation, and expression and how to apply them to their classrooms.

Our Commitment to DEI-B and Ongoing Professional Development 

We want all educators to understand and actively apply DEI-B principles in their classrooms to foster an inclusive and enriching learning environment for all students. If you missed our DEI-B series, you can still take the Jewish Education Projects DEI-B  e-training  course for free on our website.

To learn more about all ShalomLearning professional development opportunities, visit our website  and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

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