Jewish Educators Convene to Explore Social Emotional Spiritual Learning

Last month, Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ’s Education Directors Council hosted the 6th Annual Jewish Educators Conference with dozens of Jewish educators from schools across Monmouth and Greater Middlesex counties. At the event, educators explored how Social Emotional Spiritual Learning (SESL) can be incorporated into Jewish learning to benefit students.

SESL is a holistic approach to education shown to improve students’ motivation and ability to learn. SESL focuses on students’ cognitive, emotional, social, and spiritual growth. The goal is to set students up for success by helping them develop a healthy sense of self and a positive relationship with others so that they can thrive in all aspects of their life.

At the event, Dr. Evie Rotstein, Senior Education Advisor at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s School of Education, led participants in exploring how SESL helps students learn to recognize and communicate their emotions. By learning the language and self-regulation skills needed to manage their feelings, students can experience improved attitudes and behaviors such as a greater motivation to learn, improved relationships with peers, and a deeper connection to their school.

“Attending this conference has enhanced my ability to cultivate my students' emotional and spiritual growth, enabling me to better support the development of the whole child,” said one Hebrew School teacher from Congregation B’nai Israel in Rumson. “It was also great to meet teachers from other schools.”

Rotstein also noted that SESL can have a positive impact on students’ mental health by reducing stress and improving overall well-being. This includes fewer reports of depression, anxiety, stress, and social withdrawal. By developing self-esteem, healthy relationships, empathy, and social awareness, SESL sets students up to develop the skills they need to succeed in life.

“Jewish Federation is proud to invest in a strong Jewish future by supporting Jewish educators in nurturing the resilience and emotional intelligence necessary for students to achieve success in and outside of the classroom,” said Laura Safran, Jewish Federation’s Director of Community Impact.

For more information about professional development opportunities for Jewish educators, email Laura Safran at


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