WATE/Westchester Innovators Network

Facilitators: Rabbi Jennifer Goldsmith, Gina Fass, Rebecca Elkus-Ferst
Format: Hybrid (includes some virtual)

About this Network:

Participants of the WATE/Westchester Innovators Network will grapple with setting new visions, building teams, getting buy-in, assessing past learning, and other key concepts and themes that can help direct programs towards an innovative future. As we learn from each other, participants will share highlights of their work, raise issues of concern, and collaboratively create solutions.

Additional Information:

  • This network is open to new members but requires an initial conversation with one of the facilitators.
  • This network is designed for congregational directors of education.
  • This network will be a hybrid of virtual and in-person meetings for 2023-2024.

About the Facilitators:

Rabbi Jennifer Goldsmith
Rabbi Jennifer Goldsmith

Rabbi Jennifer Ossakow Goldsmith is the Managing Director of Professional Development and Growth (National) at The Jewish Education Project in New York. Born in Cleveland, Ohio and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Jennifer received her BA from the University of Michigan and rabbinic ordination and MA in Religious Education from HUC-JIR. Jennifer’s ongoing study of leadership theory drives her commitment to helping Jewish leaders harness their resources to create meaningful change. Prior to her time at The Jewish Education Project, Jennifer worked as the Director of Life-Long Learning at Larchmont Temple helping engage families at every age and stage of their Jewish journeys. Her current work concentrates on fostering and spreading educational innovation that helps learners thrive through consulting, grant initiatives, online resources, professional networks, leadership development, and coaching. She facilitates workshops and seminars on innovation in part-time Jewish education and leadership across the country.

Gina Fass
Gina Fass

With over 25 years of experience in Jewish education, Gina Fass joined Bet Torah (Mt. Kisco, NY) as the Director of Education in July 2016. She holds dual Master's degrees in Jewish Education and Jewish Communal Service from Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion and is a graduate of the prestigious Wexner Graduate Fellowship. Prior to joining Bet Torah, Gina served as a director of education at synagogues and Jewish camps in Minnesota, California and Connecticut. She has also taught high school and middle school Jewish Studies and Hebrew at Day Schools in Houston and Stamford. She has directed youth programs, a community Hebrew High, and inclusion programs for Jewish teens with special needs. Recently (2021-2022), Gina was part of the inaugural SELF Fellowship: Senior Educators Leadership Fellowship for Congregational Educators, a partnership of Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and The Legacy Heritage Foundation. Gina currently serves as co-chair of WATE: Westchester Area Temple Educators, a professional group for congregational educators. Gina continues her life-long journey of Jewish learning at Pardes in Jerusalem, Hadar in NYC and, of course, The Jewish Education Project! A world traveler, Gina has lived in cities across the United States, in France, and in Israel. She and her husband Jonathan, are the proud parents of Michal and Erez and live in Stamford, Connecticut.

Rebecca Elkus-Ferst
Rebecca Elkus-Ferst

Rebecca Elkus-Ferst is the Director of Education: Youth & Families at Temple Israel in New Rochelle, NY. For Rebecca, Jewish education is a lifelong journey that should be meaningful, challenging, dynamic, and inspiring. She works to weave these ideas throughout the educational programming at Temple Israel. Originally from Michigan, Rebecca’s identity and early Jewish experiences were strongly influenced by her family, participation in youth groups, and summers spent at camp. Rebecca earned a B.A. in Journalism and a Specialization in Jewish Studies from Michigan State University, and a Masters in Jewish Education from the Davidson School at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Upon graduation from JTS, she served as the Assistant Director of Education at Congregation Habonim in NYC from 2009-2012. Rebecca is a past fellow of the Leadership Institute: Shaping Congregational Leaders and Learners and Matan Institute for Education Directors, working on a communal approach to helping children with special needs. She is a past participant in the Qushiyot Fellowship: a program dedicated to working with educators and congregations to bring contemporary, meaningful, and relevant Israel curriculum to their programs. Rebecca is a recent aluma of the inaugural Pardes Senior Educator Leadership Fellowship. She also holds an RJE (Reform Jewish Educator) title from the Association of Reform Jewish Educators.

Wednesday at 10am (in person) and Thursday at 11am (virtual)
Oct 26, Nov 15, Dec 13, Jan 17, Feb 8, Mar 13, Apr 17, and May 16
Rabbi Jennifer Goldsmith
Gina Fass
Rebecca Elkus-Ferst
Hybrid (includes some virtual)
New members
Contact Facilitator
Target audience
Director / Principal / Head of School
Geographic regions
Area of work
Congregational Learning
Family Engagement