Institute of Southern Jewish Life

Rating: 4.95 stars   21 reviews

Issues: Arts & Culture

Location: PO Box 16528 Jackson MS 39236 USA

Mission: The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL) is dedicated to providing educational and rabbinic services to Southern Jewish communities, documenting and preserving the rich history of the Southern Jewish experience, and promoting a Jewish cultural presence throughout a thirteen state region.
Geographic areas served: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia
2009 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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EIN 64-0762027
(601) 362-6357
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

As the Co-Director of a Sunday School program in a small lay-led synagogue, the ISJL's Education Curriculum has been a real life-saver. Our Directors are usually parent volunteers, our teachers are wonderful college students and community members with varying degrees of experience as educators. The curriculum provides a solid foundation for teaching Judaic studies and Hebrew. As the teachers change, I know our youth will continue to be learning new material each year at an age-appropriate level. We also love having support from our ISJL Education Fellow who has helped me already on several occasions when my knowledge has been lacking. The ISJL is providing an outstanding service to our small community and helping us to raise Jewish youth with a strong connection to their Judaism.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

amazing. They are dedicated, excited and knowledgeable.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-10-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

As an educator (Religious Studies professor) I have seen ISJL enrich and educate thousands of people in my own community (Jackson MS) and our entire region. My college hosts the Jackson Jewish Film Festival, sponsored by ISJL, and we have sent student interns to ISJL for many excellent experiences and learning opportunities unavailable elsewhere. ISJL has significantly impacted the study of Southern and Southern Jewish history through the unique services and resources of their their History Department. I find ISJL to be one of the most useful, on-of-a-kind, and innovative institutions in our community.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Always helpful and resourceful.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-10-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

As co-chair of the Mobile Jewish Film Festival I have worked with the Institute for nine years now. I could not have asked for a better experience! When we first began our festival they helped us take those first baby steps and encouraged us every step of the way. The festival has grown more and more successful every year, but we still choose to remain under the umbrella of Jewish Cinema South and the Institute because of their expertise and enthusiasm. We hope to continue and even grow this wonderful event for years to come and will no doubt lean on the Institute's guidance all the way.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the success of our film festival now in it's ninth year.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

They are not only dependable and knowledgeable but they are nice people and fun to work with.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-12-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

As a Southern Jewish congregation, with a small membership and the same large challenges as the much larger congregations, we appreciate the depth and breadth of assistance, programs, understanding and personal assistance we have received from the ISJL. Over the past years we sought to get this same level of assistance from the URJ, but seemed to feel "overlooked" rather than looked after. The ISJL treats us as if we are their largest member congregation rather than one of their smallest. We participated in the educational program this year, after passing it up for a number of years, and we are seeing a definite positive result by following the ISJL primer on what we can do. Our educational leaders came away from the program enthused and prepared in ways they had never expected before attending. We are looking forward to our second visit from our educational advisor. This is something we never had working with other programs. We have participated in entertainment programs in the past and would like to do more in the future, as time and money allow. The people of the ISJL, from the very top of the organization down, understand us, and our challenges and give us real world options as solutions. This is why we are so very pleased with the ISJL.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the personal attention and professionalism of everyone we work with. If this organization had $10 million they could raise the positive image and awareness of Judaism throughout the South and well across the rest of the USA.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-10-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

We attended the ISJL summer education conference. Its quality far surpassed our expectations. They were organized, had excellent content, and respected our Jewish traditions, finding ways to embrace all movements. Their Education Fellow has been an absolute pleasure to host in our community.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

hiring our teaching staff this year. In the past, we struggled to find enough teachers and had to combine several grades. Now that we have the most excellent curriculum from ISJL, we were able to combine fewer grades and had to turn away one applicant!

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

provide movement-specific curricular materials as opposed to nondenominational materials.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-10-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Their Education Fellows are well trained and are highly quaslified. The curriculum is excellent and well-thought through. They follow up with newsletters, regular communications, and Rabbinic input. Their other departments, such as Programming, History, etc. are active and have high quality pograms.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my capacity as Director of our school.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

need to know more details in depth before proceeding with any changes.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the enthusiasm and good will of its staff.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Educational Fellows, administrative and professional people.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

increase its staff, pay better its staff, and venture into new areas and projects.

Ways to make it better...

if we could have more teachers and resources.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

financial, because they could hire more people and do more outreach to increase their impact.

One thing I'd also say is that...

this is really a unique organization. I have not seen or experienced anything like it before.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-8-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

8 people found this review helpful

ISJL is truly an exemplary model for all Jewish communities. I have utilised the curriculum, attended the Educator's Conference, and benefited tremendously from visits with fellows and consultations with other staff. Our community has worked together much more closely since both congregations have adopted the religious school curriculum. The other components- historical and cultural - offer tremendous appeal as well. What a fabuolous vision for Jewish life all across America!

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The enthusiasm, the ideas, the connections, the vision, and the amazing staff!

Ways to make it better...

I had been able to visit the museum itself- I think that would make a great field trip!

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-9-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

7 people found this review helpful

Overall the most innovative, meaningful, and on target Jewish organization I have worked with in 20 years. They provide outstanding service to Educators, teachers, and synagogues. Not only are they exemplary in the south, the country as a whole would benefit from their vision and challenge to provide Jewish literacy to all Jewish children.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the day to day operations of my school, in the ability of our Jewish community to work together more successfully city wide, and in the ISJL's ablity to inspire teachers of all experience and skill levels.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

hire more full time educators in different parts of the region.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

attending the annual conferences and regular visits from interns. The quality of the curriculum provided is unparalleled.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

positive, well trained, compassionate and very competent.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

provide additional resources to small communities without financial hardship.

Ways to make it better...

Continue working with the list serve to provide daily communications between Education Directors.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

the overall financial stresses in the non-profit world.

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-10-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

7 people found this review helpful

ISJL is an awesome tool for congregations and individuals. They not only provide a curriculum and great support system from our Religious School, but they have also given our daughter resources for Social Studies projects. Just like they do for their Religious School teachers, they initiated follow up with our daughter to ensure that she received what needed and understood what they sent to her.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

ranged from young and vibrant youth who know how to interact with our children and the adults to inspiring traveling Rabbis who helped our congregation through a tough time when we did not have a religious leader.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-9-01

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

12 people found this review helpful

This organization does an amazing job of serving Jewish communities -- especially isolated Jewish communities -- all over the South. They are committed to documenting and honoring the Southern Jewish experience, to providing rabbinic support to geographically "undesirable" areas, and to ensuring that the Jewish children in these communities receive a high-quality Jewish education. Their annual education conference is an amazing and inspiring gathering of hundreds of Jewish teachers and educators from around the South.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

...seeing the magic that happens when they send an education fellow to work with a small Southern Jewish community.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

...they are true professionals, led by a visionary Jewish communal professional (Macy B. Hart).

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

...young, enthusiastic, energetic, and deeply dedicated to the organization's vision.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

...do an even better job of making a profound difference in the lives of Jews living across the South.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-6-01

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