Research indicates that well-prepared educators help produce strong learning outcomes for students. For the continued health of Jewish education, higher education institutions should have the capacity to prepare sufficient numbers of highly qualified educators and education leaders for careers in Jewish education. Teachers, division heads, and school heads represent a substantial segment of the educator population in Jewish day schools. More than 5,000 educators enter new positions in Jewish day schools every year and are in need of adequate preparation. The most frequent obstacle to instructional quality in Jewish day schools is the difficulty in recruiting qualified teachers (Ben-Avie & Kress, 2006; Jewish Education Service of North America, 2008; Kidron et al., in press; Krakowski, 2011; Sales, 2007).
A similar problem has been observed in supplementary schools in congregational or communal settings. These schools enroll the majority of Jewish children and adolescents receiving a Jewish education in the United States (Wertheimer, 2008). In recent years, congregations have begun to replace traditional educational programs with new approaches that aim to raise the quality of instruction and the level of parent and student satisfaction relative to their programs. These new approaches may include greater integration of experiential Jewish education and community service, family learning, and the integration of all aspects of congregational learning under the leadership of one director (Rechtschaffen, 2011; Sales, Samuel, Koren, & Shain, 2010). High-quality programs that are updated or reconstructed across time to meet the needs of the Jewish community require well-prepared directors and educators. However, many directors and educators in congregational schools have not participated in teacher preparation programs, and the depth of Jewish content knowledge among these teachers is highly variable (Stodolsky, Dorph, & Rosov, 2008).