Denver, CO and Chicago, IL - Rena Defez and Esther Weiss
Rena Defez and Esther Weiss
grew up in Chicago, and each has devoted her life to education.
Esther went to an Orthodox day school for 8th grade and high school, and attended the Spertus Institute, in addition to earning a B.A. in English, which enabled her to go directly into Jewish education.
As Education Director at Moriah Congregation
in Chicago for the last 18 years, she
is in charge of its family and adult education programs.
has been very active in educational programs of the Conservative Movement in the Chicago area over the years and in CAJE.
She is now a co-president of the Jewish Educator's Assembly's Midwest region.
says that the sisters "have always shared - our possessions, our thoughts and our deepest feelings.
Three weeks of study at the Conservative Yeshiva
offered them "the possibility of sharing our spiritual thoughts and feelings as well, via Torah study in Jerusalem together.
They decided to do it.
"What we imagined came true," she
"We were blessed with the opportunity of sharing at an even deeper level than ever before in our lives.
The excellence of the instruction, the honesty, integrity and caring that abounded from each of our amazing teachers, and the general ambience of Torah learning and derech eretz that pervades the CY environment made each day precious and special."
While both have been to Israel a number of times (Esther did her
junior year of college at Hebrew University), they found living and learning together an important part of the experience.
Rena notes that she
is "continually confronted with the disconnect our Jewish children display between their lives in America and the land of Israel" and the CY experience renewed their enthusiasm for Israel and their desire to transmit this feeling to their students.