What Was Behind AJU’s Decision to Sell its Familian Campus

Lisa R. Parker

American Jewish University just lately announced that we are promoting our Familian Campus in Bel Air. This has prompted quite a few concerns from the community:  Are we going out of business? Are we transferring to an on-line-only model? Are we also likely to promote the 2,600 acres we possess at our Brandeis Bardin Campus in the Simi Valley? The solution to all these issues is completely not.

We are looking for to offer the Familian Campus mainly because we no longer consider that holding 20-two acres in Bel Air is automatically the greatest way to help our significant mission of promoting Jewish journeys, and strengthening the Jewish lifestyle of people today, corporations, and our group.

The troubles and prospects going through the Jewish communities of North The united states are multi-faceted: synagogues are struggling to appeal to users Jewish literacy and comprehension is declining considerably numerous in the subsequent era have an significantly strained and difficult relationship with Israel with more than 50 per cent of American Jews intermarrying, Jewish people appear various than they at any time have waves of immigrants from the Middle East and the former Soviet Union have extra new daily life and dimensions to our communities, which have prolonged been centered in an Ashkenazi worldview. We feel that building a very flexible business that can react nimbly to traits across the Jewish landscape is critical.

I have heard from several of you that this final decision has elevated complicated feelings involved with recollections of paying time of our Familian Campus. For lots of of us, Judaism is strongly joined to construction that we frequented and memories of an establishment we joined or frequented. For much better or for worse, this is not the Judaism of our little ones and our grandchildren. Today, our community’s most productive initiatives include ordeals and relationships. In order to succeed, Jewish businesses have to fulfill men and women where they are (practically), be nimble, and available.

These days, our community’s most productive efforts require encounters and interactions. In get to triumph, Jewish organizations need to fulfill men and women where they are (basically), be nimble, and available.

Just in the previous two yrs, we have seen several examples in which AJU has responded to evolving prospects in a bold fashion to make a substantial communal impact:

  • Our Faculty for Jewish Instruction and Management, addressing an important gap in the professionalization of Jewish academics, has commenced both of those bachelor completion and master’s levels in Jewish early childhood training. These are offered nationwide on line and have both of those synchronous (where by all people is online together) and asynchronous (the place college students access the system content when practical) elements. As a result, enrollment has tripled in just 4 a long time as lecturers are hungry for instruction that will make it possible for them to educate young Jewish students, and not incidentally their people, in developmentally proper and study-centered solutions. The implications for these youthful people, and the Jewish establishments they will enter, are profound.
  • The Miller Introduction to Judaism cemented its place as the foremost system in the planet participating newcomers to Judaism by way of discovering. The system, by way of in-man or woman and zoom courses, now has more pupils enrolled immediately than at any time in its thirty a long time. The on-line students appear from dozens of distinct international locations whilst our in-particular person classes are taught at regional synagogues. Our curriculum is now provided in 175 Jewish institutions throughout North The usa.
  • The Maven electronic platform has registered over 100,000 users for far more than two hundred plans because the commence of the pandemic that have imparted Jewish knowledge and spirituality throughout the world. Maven is now developing partnerships with dozens of Jewish establishments across the nation to give most effective-in-course electronic articles for their constituencies.
  • On April 10th and 11th, AJU will co-sponsor with the Herzl Institute and ANU—the Museum of the Jewish Folks a significant meeting in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on the throughout the world phenomena of most likely thousands and thousands of people, usually due to discoveries by way of genetic testing, studying that they have just one or extra ancestors who are Jewish and hence are looking for higher affinity with Jews and Israel. These new populations have the prospective to offer important new aid for Jews and for the Jewish state at a time when antisemitism is escalating throughout the world.

All these initiatives, as nicely as AJU’s other ongoing courses, go to the coronary heart of Jewish challenges—how to convey younger family members into Jewish mastering (and consequently generally into synagogues), how to increase Jewish finding out into adulthood, how to tackle people at the margins of Jewish lifestyle, and how to maximize assist for the Jews and Israel when combatting antisemitism. They mirror AJU’s skill to pivot and our absolute perseverance to supply alternatives to Jewish difficulties fairly than basically be section of the refrain proclaiming doom.

Soon after lots of months of thoughtful deliberation and thing to consider of our solutions, the board of administrators manufactured the daring determination to market the Familian campus to unlock the value of that asset so that we could continue on with our mission and make significant adjustments to our programs. It grew to become very clear that continuing to operate in Bel Air with the attendant cost to operate was not fiscally responsible.

At our Brandeis Bardin Campus, our a great deal-beloved and regularly bought-out Camp Alonim and the lengthy-standing Brandeis Collegiate Institute are tied to the land, and we will keep on to keep and commit in that excellent assets.

Marketing Familian does not necessarily mean that we will be completely on line. We are merely going to find a bodily area that suits our recent requirements. We might stay in Bel Air in a minimized footprint. We may possibly also shift. AJU by now has a prolonged history of featuring in-individual classes (together with the Miller Introduction to Judaism System and Hebrew) at other physical areas throughout the town, a exercise we will carry on.

Families shift and firms relocate all the time in response to chance. AJU is having a daring phase due to the fact that is what is expected to handle the complications that the Jewish group faces. Our keep track of record demonstrates that the return on our new initiatives is extremely superior, and we search ahead to making use of all of our sources in service of the Jewish group in Los Angeles and throughout the state.

Jeffrey Herbst is President of American Jewish College.

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