Empowering, professionalizing, and elevating the field of Jewish learning after school, Voices from the Field provides educators a forum to add their voices to the network of visionaries redefining Jewish education.

Join Us!

Are you a Jewish educator in an afterschool program, Hebrew school, or another part-time setting? This conference is made for you! Join us in Berkeley this November for the inaugural Voices from the Field conference where you will:

  • Learn about the newest approaches, models, and programs implemented in schools throughout North America.
  • Contribute your voice to the growing community of thought leaders and innovators in the after school learning space.
  • Bring home ideas, resources, and inspiration to elevate your practice and enliven your work, programs, and schools.
  • Learn with experts in their field and deepen your craft while participating in facilitated Communities of Practice.
  • Help to build the field Jewish after school education.
Registration Closed


Conference Fee

Early bird: $350 through 10/15
Late bird: $385 after 10/15

Registration closes: 11/4

Discount for Teachers

Thanks to a generous donation, the first fifty teachers to register will receive a $300 discount. Subsidies are available on a first come first served basis. Questions? Email [email protected].

About the Conference

Conference Activities

Workshops – Workshops are 60 minute peer-reviewed sessions in which presenters will share new ideas, approaches, programs and pedagogies.

Flash Sessions – Flash Sessions are 15 minute per-reviewed presentations that provide short introductions to new ideas, programs or pedagogies. Flash sessions are designed to peak your interest and stimulate conversation and are also wonderful opportunities for first time presenters to share.

Reflection & Connection – Some of the most valuable moments at any conference are the unplanned, unstructured conversations with colleagues. These intervals will provide  opportunities to follow up with presenters, huddle with colleagues to reflect on learning, or share inspiration.

Plenary Presentation – The Plenary Presentation is an opportunity to gather as a group on our first evening to hear from an inspiring leader in the field of after school education.

Connect & Create – The Connect and Create evening programs will provide opportunities for attendees to connect with others while working creatively to advance the field and grow professionally.

Communities of Practice (CoP) – Communities of Practice, or CoPs are networks designed to connect and support individuals working on similar projects or with similar interests around a specific topic. CoPs will be formed at the conference to support educators in bringing specific innovations back to their respective communities. Click here to read more about the CoP themes.

What is a Community of Practice (CoP)?
A community of practice, or CoP, is a group of people who share a craft, profession or common interest. A CoP can evolve naturally because of the members’ common interest in a particular domain or area, or it can be created deliberately with the goal of gaining knowledge related to a specific field. Through the process of sharing information and experiences with the group, CoP members learn from each other and have an opportunity to develop personally and professionally.

CoPs at the Voices from the Field Conference
Voices from the Field is convening CoPs around five thematic areas that emerged from session proposals. Each CoP is an opportunity for participants to meet with an expert mentor in the field and learn from, collaborate with, and be inspired by colleagues. After the  conference, CoPs will meet together online with their mentor to offer follow up support in implementing learning and strategies introduced at the conference. The five themes are:

1. Family Matters – Family Engagement in the After School Setting
Discuss best practices in parent communication and family engagement with the aim of offering meaningful whole family experiences and building community.

2. The After School Model – Meeting Families Needs
Get into the nuts and bolts of what makes an after school program successful and what is involved in meeting the needs of diverse families in your community.

3. Building for the Future – Growing Organizational Capacity
Every Jewish education program needs to survive and thrive as an organization in order to be successful. Learn and share best practices in organizational sustainability.

4. Teaching and Learning – Promising Practices
Focus on pedagogy in the after school setting and discover ways to enliven your program with fresh approaches and inspiring methodologies.

5. After School Is Cool – Creating Dynamic Teen Experiences
Take a deep dive into teen programming and explore ways to engage and inspire teen engagement.

Confirmed sessions as of 10/28/19

Workshop Titles

  • #Onward Hebrew: Changing the Philosophy of Hebrew Education in Part-Time Settings
  • After School Education Beyond 5th Grade: From Program to Educational Learning Scaffold
  • I See, I Think, I Wonder: Using Studio Habits of Mind in the Supplemental Classroom
  • Change by Design: Creating Healthy and Transformative Change
  • Radical Listening: How Community Organizing Creates a Culture of Interactive Learning
  • PBL: A Pedagogy for Differentiated Instruction
  • Models of Congregational Education in the Reform Movement
  • Games and Inclusivity
  • Ghosts in the Classroom
  • Inspiring Your Students in Mussar: Practical Ethics for Living a Meaningful Life
  • JQuest Tracks: One Size Does Not Fit All
  • The Whole Is Greater than the Sum of Its Parts: Organizational Partnerships
  • 1/30th of the Whole: Scaffolding Personalized Jewish Text Learning in Community
  • Managing Behavior Challenges [or Differentiated Instruction, not sure which yet] in the Afterschool Setting
  • Project Based Learning in the Afternoon School—It Works!
  • Keeping the Adolescent Brain in Mind
  • Full Service Jewish After School Panel
  • How to Catalyze and Sustain a New Program in Your Community
  • Jewish Learning to Help Us Thrive

Flash Session Titles

  • Online Learning in Jewish After School Education: A Brief Discussion
  • Designing a Hebrew School where Millenials Want to Work
  • Activating Jewish Learners: Lessons from Research on Science Learning
  • Cohort B’Mitzvahs: Learn about this Old/New Practice and How It’s Working in Our City
  • Meesada: Farm to Table Hebrew Immersion
  • Preview of Research into the Effectiveness of Jewish Afterschool Programs
  • Experiential Teaching Tactics: How to Incorporate Sign Language, Yogic Breath and Theatre Games into Your Classroom
  • Shabbatluck Success

Conference People

Photo of VFTF Plenary Speaker Emily Pilloton

Fear Less. Build More.

Emily Pilloton, founder and Executive Director of Girls Garage, spends her days teaching pre-teen and teen girls how to weld, wield power tools, and build the world they want to see. Having worked within public school systems, Emily’s work with Girls Garage now focuses on after-school and summer out-of-school settings to excite youth around real-world problems and hands-on solutions. Emily will speak to the importance of identity, mentorship, and authentic relationships over many years, and how after-school STEAM programs can help youth connect to themselves and their communities. A dynamic speaker and fearless leader, Emily’s stories will inspire you to get your hands dirty, build a team of creative colleagues, and build audacious projects with young people.

We are pleased to partner with the Jewish Studio Project for the “Connect & Create” sessions on Sunday and Monday evenings.

As an urban art studio and beit midrash, JSP activates creativity in individuals and organizations to make life more meaningful, Judaism more vibrant and the world more just. JSP has pioneered a groundbreaking methodology, the Jewish Studio Process, that combines Jewish text learning and creative arts exploration to investigate relevant questions about our lives and tradition. Since launching in 2015, JSP has become a leading resource for creative learning in communities across North America. Through immersives, trainings, professional development engagements and thought leadership, JSP has served over 8,000 participants, offered more than 300 programs and collaborated with 65 leading organizations seeking creative approaches to Jewish learning in just four years. JSP has built a robust professional development and training practice that has already been sought out by dozens of organizations including Hillel International, Schusterman Foundation, The Jewish Education Project, Jewish Emergent Network, HUC-JIR, Sefaria and Wexner Foundation.

Lila Kagedan

Rabbi Lila Kagedan holds degrees and certificates from Midreshet Lindenbaum, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, The University of Toronto, Harvard University, The Medstar Washington Hospital Center and Massachusetts General Hospital and is a Shalom Hartman Institute Rabbinic Senior Fellow. She is also a Hadassah Brandeis Institute-Gender, Culture, Religion and Law Research Associate. Rabbi Kagedan was ordained in 2015, by Yeshivat Maharat and served until recently as the senior rabbi of the Walnut Street Synagogue in Chelsea, MA. She was the founder of the Sulam School in Brookline, MA. Rabbi Kagedan is a professor of bioethics in the faculty of medicine of New York Medical College and is an ethicist at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Vicky Kelman

Vicky Kelman is an independent consultant who has focused her professional work on engaging families in shared Jewish experiences and empowering them to take charge of their own Jewish lives. “Re-wired” from the The Jewish Family Education Project at the BJE (now, Jewish Learning Works) in San Francisco, she continues to be involved in family education, staffing Ohr Lanu, a family camp for families with special needs kids at Ramah (Ojai, CA) , leading family activities at the annual Passover retreat at Ramah, facilitating parenting workshops in local synagogues and schools, developing both Kol Nidre and Tikkun Lel Shavuot experiences for families. The author of many published works in this field, she received the Covenant Award in 2003. 

Eric Ludwig

Erik Ludwig is Director of the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. His primary expertise is in the areas of leading organizational change and strategic philanthropy. He regularly teaches courses in Lean Startup, organizational leadership, fundraising and resource development, and Human-centered Design. As an executive leader, academic administrator, and consultant, he has in his tool-kit a diverse set of conceptual frameworks and practices that are effective in diagnosing the multifaceted challenges that confront organizations seeking to remain relevant in a time of dynamic change. On Sundays, you can find him on the ski slope or basketball court. 

Joanna Oren Massey

Joanna Oren is a seasoned nonprofit professional with 15+ years in community service and educational leadership.  Currently Joanna serves as Director of Camp and Youth Programs at the Lawrence Hall of Science, U.C. Berkeley. She is a licensed Israeli tour guide, has served as the International Director of Education for the Diller Teen Fellows Program, as the Executive Director of the Center for Jewish Living and Learning at the East Bay Federation and as the Executive Director of Edah.  Joanna is most rewarded and strengthened by her relationship with and experience of raising two children in these complex times. When not working, you can find her biking, backpacking, or cooking healthy meals and songwriting in the comfort of her home in El Cerrito.

Deborah Newbrun

Deborah was Camp Director and Executive Director at Camp Tawonga for 25 years, co-created and currently directs SVARA’s Queer Talmud Camps and has served as the Bay Area Director for Hazon and Keshet. Deborah works with Jewish organizations around the country to train build a culture of love and trust amongst employees.  Deborah also literally wrote the book on Jewish environmental education. It’s called Spirit in Nature: Teaching Judaism and Ecology On the Trail [Behrman House, 2000]. She is the 2018 recipient of the Covenant Award for Jewish education. Deborah has raised four beautiful children and lives in Berkeley with her wife Sue Reinhold and their dog, Noodle. 

Confirmed presenters as of 10/28/19

Nikki Berne
Jewish Kids Group
Atlanta, GA

J Collins
Teacher, Suburban Temple – Kol Ami
Cleveland , OH

Rabbi Dr. Sheldon Dorph
Tiburon, CA

Rena Dorph
Director, Board Chair & Co Founder, Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley and Studio 70
Berkeley, CA

Rabbi Joshua Fenton
Executive Director, Studio 70
Berkeley, CA

Laurie Fisher
Gratz College
Melrose Park, PA

Mary Frank
Temple Bat Yam & North Tahoe Hebrew Congregation
South Lake Tahoe, CA

Rabbi Nicki Greninger
Director of Lifelong Learning, Temple Isaiah
Lafayette, CA

Janet Harris
Director of ECE and Family Engagement, Jewish Community Federation
Berkeley, CA

Dena Klein
Managing Director, New Models, The Jewish Education Project
New York, NY

Natan Kuchar
Director, Edah Berkeley, Edah Berkeley
Berkeley, CA

Lisa Langer
Associate Director of Congregational Innovation, Union for Reform Judaism
Menlo Park, CA

KT Lipsiner
Jewish Kids Group
Atlanta, GA

Jenni Mangel
Managing Director, Professional Learning, Jewish LearningWorks
San Francisco, CA

Lisa Micley
Program Director, Online Judaic Studies Consortium
Maynard, MA

Lisa Micley
Program Director, Online Judaic Studies Consortium
Maynard, MA

Rabbi Rebecca Milder
Founding Director, Jewish Enrichment Center
Chicago, IL

Rabbi Alissa Miller
Director of Noar Night, Temple Isaiah
Lafayette, CA

David Neufeld
Director of Inclusion, Jewish LearningWorks
San Francisco, CA

Rabbi Dr. Laura Novak Winer
Director of Clinical Education, Rhea Hirsch School of Education at HUC-JIR
Fresno, CA

Ana Robbins
Executive Director, Jewish Kids Group
Atlanta, GA

Arnold Rotenberg
Director of Congregational Jewish Living, Congregation Gates of Heaven
Schenectady, NY

Rabbi Scott Shafrin
Kol Rinah Education Hub (KoREH)
St. Louis, MO

Andrea Waterstone
Afterschool Community Director, Jewish Kids Groups
Atlanta, GA

Rabbi Evon Yakar
Temple Bat Yam & North Tahoe Hebrew Congregation
South Lake Tahoe, CA



Sessions will be held at Berkeley Hillel. See a map of key locations including the conference venue, hotels, and nearby airports.


Kosher meals and snacks will be provided for conference goers from dinner on Sunday through lunch on Tuesday. Additional dietary restrictions will be accommodated to the best of our ability.


Lodging arrangements must be made independently by conference attendees. For your convenience and cost savings, conference organizers have reserved blocks of rooms at two nearby hotels, the Bancroft Hotel and Berkeley City Club*. See booking instructions. (Note: The group rate has expired for both hotels.)

Nearby Airports

The San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Oakland International Airport (OAK) are both located near Berkeley. Transportation is readily available from both airports including, Uber, Lyft, bus and BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). 

If you rent a car, please note that you will be required to pay for hotel parking at either hotel. Standard drive time from SFO to Berkeley ranges from 40-90 minutes depending on traffic. Drive time from OAK to Berkeley ranges from 30-50 minutes depending on traffic.

Our Partners

With Generous Support From

The Covenant Foundation - Logo