Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative:
Pittsburgh JECEI and Bonim Beyachad

Jewish Early Childhood Education InitiativeEarly childhood education represents a unique opportunity to engage both young children and their parents in a rich and meaningful Jewish communal life.

The Pittsburgh Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative (JECEI) is a comprehensive multi-year systemic change initiative that includes three core components: quality early childhood education, engaging families in meaningful Jewish living and learning experiences and shared leadership. Pittsburgh JECEI sites include the Squirrel Hill Jewish Community Center, Temple Ohav Shalom and Temple Emanuel.

Jewish Early Childhood Education InitiativePittsburgh JECEI places unparalleled emphasis on the importance of serious Jewish inquiry and dialogue on the part of the entire family in the community of the early childhood center. A central goal is to significantly upgrade the Jewish experience and commitment of families who enroll in an early childhood center. Immersion in Jewish values, community and life will transform the face of families involved in these programs, regardless of family background. Research shows that an excellent early childhood school experience offers an unrivaled opportunity to engage families with young Jewish children and deepen their Jewish connection.

A parallel initiative designed to inspire and support excellence in Jewish Early Childhood programs, Bonim Beyachad – Growing Together, was launched at Community Day School several years ago and currently serves a number of sites. Bonim Beyachad provides on-going, targeted and site-specific support helping each program to meet its own unique and customized goals, relating to our community's Shared Goals for Excellence in Jewish early childhood education, in providing quality early childhood experiences in our Pittsburgh Jewish community.

Jewish Early Childhood Education InitiativeThe approach of both Pittsburgh JECEI and Bonim Beyachad draws its power from the unique blend of the Reggio Emilia approach and constructivist education. The acclaimed Reggio Emilia approach immerses children in a dynamic learning process while engaging parents and families in meaningful experiences. Parents are viewed as partners, collaborators and advocates for their children's Jewish ideas and values. Additionally, the Reggio Emilia approach inspires our educators to serve as guides and researchers alongside of the children by asking open ended questions, encouraging critical thinking and helping children to make connections.

We are working closely with educational consultants in Jewish constructivist education and in the Reggio Emilia approach to reach into all Pittsburgh Jewish early childhood education centers with a cutting-edge approach referred to as “Reggio through a Jewish lens.”

Early Childhood Education Shared Communal Goals

Under the auspices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, nine Jewish early childhood centers in the Pittsburgh area have worked together to create Shared Communal Goals for excellence in Jewish early childhood education. Our community’s Shared Communal Goals create standards that operationalize and define in concrete terms what “excellence” looks like in Jewish early childhood education. Our collaborating directors have created rubrics for the series of goals, to identify different levels of excellence that will allow each center to assess its progress as it continues its own plan for growth.

Included with the rubric program’s design are three core components: quality early childhood education, engaging families in meaningful Jewish living and learning experiences, and shared leadership.

See the Shared Goals.

Read About the Development and Implementation of the Shared Goals.


For more information about Early Childhood Education initiatives through the Jewish Federation, please contact Carolyn Linder, Director, Early Childhood Education, at 412-697-6648 or