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  

We live in an area with few other Jewish families. We are able to attend services once a month in borrowed space at a Presbyterian church. The Taste of Torah from the ISJLl provides us with a weekly d'var torah (sermon) Their dynamic rabbi attended our Seder and and plans to return next Passover. ISJL provides a comprehensive K-12 Sunday school curriculum so that every Jewish child can recieve a quality religious education. Although there are no children in the Shalom b'Harim congregation right now, as our group grows we will make good use of that curriculum. The ISJL education fellows travel throughout a 13 state area working with congregations and their educators. This is an invaluable program for small congregations that are struggling to survive.






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

Our oldest daughter grew up as the only Jewish child in her school. It was an enormous struggle to provide her with a religious education. In college, she connected with the campus Hillel and made her Birthright trip to Israel. After graduate school, she accepted an appointment to a two year fellowship at the ISJL. She now travels, serving congregations much like the one she grew up in.Through her, I've seen the hard work and immense dedication of the education fellows and the entire ISJL staff.

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

These services are needed nationwide- it's not just in the south that congregations are struggling to survive.

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Rating: 5 stars  

8 people found this review helpful

As a member of a small synagogue in a small city, I deeply value the services and information which we can get through the ISJL. Since I teach in our parent-run religious school, the curriculum and instructional assistance from the Education program has been sanity-saving. It works so much better than each person selecting his/her own books each year and stumbling through based on their limited knowledge. And the Taste of Torah emails are great too!

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

learning about the range of Jewish communities in the South and learning more about Judaism as a whole. Also, I love seeing my kids learn more through the curriculum and visits.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-11-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

As a former director of our religious school my experience and the experience of our school children has been outstanding. The curriculum is very helpful and the visits from our fellow are always something that everyone looks forward too. I also enjoy receiving "Taste of Torah" in my inbox each week.

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

our fellow, Janine!

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  

3 people found this review helpful

Since my daughter began her 2 year fellowship with the ISJL, I've naturally become interested in the organization and it's mission. I look forward to the weekly Taste of Torah d'var Torah, especially since our congregation, like many served by the ISJL, meets only once a month. I'm thrilled at the opportunities that are opening up for my daughter as a result of her ISJL work and it's wonderful to see her grow and mature in her faith and traditions. This is such great group of people doing important work with humor, grace and devotion...the Glazer family loves the ISJL!

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

through the eyes of my daughter who is an ISJL fellow. She's having such wonderful experiences and meeting great people- this is an experience that will effect her for years to come

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

see above:)

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

Gracious and friendly- both the people we've met on our visit to the ISJL office and the fellows who are our daughter's friends.

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  

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  

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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