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2004 | Ruth Pinkenson Feldman
Ruth Pinkenson Feldman
Dr. Ruth Pinkenson Feldman was born in Philadelphia to two loving parents who instilled in her a lifelong appreciation of learning and of teaching.
They taught her
that "You don't teach subjects, you teach people.
They also taught her
to believe in herself.
Jewish learning taught her
how and why.
Ruth earned her cum laude BA in Philosophy and Child Study in 1971 at Tufts University in Medford, MA.
She continued her studies at the Bank Street College of Education, where she received an MS in Early Childhood Education in 1974.
In 1980, she became the founding director of the Learning and Development Program, an infant-toddler program, at the Germantown Jewish Centre in Philadelphia.
By incorporating parent education, it helped to form the basis for a strong Jewish community.
?ve years there, Ruth
?rmly established a Bank Street-inspired program that was play-oriented, exploratory, and, perhaps most unusual at the time, incorporated parent education and family holiday programming.
Twenty-four years later, "The Mishpachah Program" still exists.
While creating this program, Ruth worked on her doctorate at Temple University.
dissertation, "The Impact of Jewish Day Care on Parental Jewish Identity," brought a strong theoretical background to her
She received her EdD in 1986.
From 1995 to 1996, Ruth was a Jerusalem fellow.
In addition to focusing her
energy on re-envisioning early childhood education, Ruth
studied with Nechama Leibowitz, from whom she
learned, among other things, the process of close-reading a text and the active construction of Jewish knowledge.
became part of the interpretive community.
Following her year in Israel, Ruth spent three years as a consultant for Early Childhood Education at the Auerbach Central Agency for Jewish Education in Philadelphia, PA, where she established a network of early childhood professionals and a salary scale for early childhood educators.
also developed workshops and modules to enhance Jewish education in afternoon religious schools.
In her current role as Director of Early Childhood Services at the JCCA, she has been a dedicated innovator and teacher, creating the Brill Fellows Seminar in Israel, the web-based curriculum "This New Month," which introduced the concept of Jewish time to over 100 nursery schools across the country, and "An Ethical Start," a Jewish values curriculum based on Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers).
Ruth has taught at Gratz College, the University of Pennsylvania, and Beaver College, among others.
has received grants from numerous foundations and her
writing can be found in various publications, including The Jewish Family Book
, What We Know About Jewish Education, and Sh'ma.
In all that she
is supported by her
loving husband, Gary, and her
children, Uri, Leona, and Noam.
"Ruth is a great educator because she is constantly learning.
own Jewish journey freely to inspire others.
has a wonderful talent for ?nding the right people to enlist in her
efforts-wherever they come from.
If they have the spark, the understanding, the skills, she
will teach them whatever else they need to know.
is a builder.
thinks big, and she
is not discouraged by the dimensions of the challenges facing her
sees are the opportunities.
believes that the ?eld of Jewish early childhood education can be transformed.
believes that resources can be found, that supporters can be mobilized, that teachers can grow and change, that parents can become partners in the Jewish education of their children.
will not compromise on her
lives the expression, 'If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right.'"
educates just by being herself.
makes everyone with whom she
works a part of her
family and community.
knowledge of Judaism in a way that makes everyone around her
part of a learning process.
A typical Ruth
opening is, 'Guess what I just learned!' Ruth is a visionary.
believes that you can't have an educated child without an educated adult.
began to educate the educators.
is not afraid to buck the system.
is not discouraged when people tell her
that something has never been done or cannot be done.
is also tenacious.
Ruth invited me to serve as a consultant to 'This New Month' and I refused to believe that technology had anything to offer Jewish educators.
When I saw what Ruth was able to accomplish educationally with video conferencing and intelligent Internet use, I had to admit my mistrust of technology was misplaced.
has brought me into the twenty-?rst century, just as she
has given so many others access to timeless Jewish tradition."