Local CAJE unaffected by national group’s closing


Local Central Agency for Jewish Education officials assured the public that the agency is not affected by the closing of the national Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE).


An e-mail announcement that the national CAJE would close at the end of February comes a month after said it would not hold its annual conference.

The national CAJE, for 30 years the primary professional development organization for congregational and Hebrew school teachers, said in the e-mail that it could no longer survive in this economic climate.

Its annual conference on Jewish education drew some 1,000 educators, but in January, the national CAJE said it would not hold this year’s event because local Jewish agencies could not afford to send teachers to participate and the organization could not drum up enough funding to pay for the conference.

In the e-mail, the national CAJE said it was seeking funds to pay off some $500,000 in debt incurred to hold conferences over the past several years.

“It is a major tragedy for Jewish education, and I think it will be missed,” national CAJE executive director Jeffrey Lasday told JTA.

“Now we have to look at how local and national organizations can be working closer together. My colleagues at other agencies say their agencies are closing down or losing staff. This is an opportunity to rethink how we work together to better education with national and local organizations, ” he said. “Now is the time to rethink the whole thing.”

Local CAJE officials said it received a number of calls from people in the St. Louis community who were alarmed, fearing that the closing of the national agency would affect the local CAJE. In a statement, local CAJE officials said, “Please be assured that CAJE St. Louis is open, is fiscally sound, and continues to provide full services and programs.”

“We are very sad to hear that the national Coalition for Advanced Jewish Education, based in New York and also known as CAJE, will be closing at the end of February,” the statement continued. “National CAJE has no relationship to CAJE St. Louis, nor does its financial status have any bearing on the fiscal health or the programming of the Central Agency for Jewish Education (CAJE) in St. Louis.”