By Judie Jacobson
JERUSALEM, Israel – Ayeka: The Center for Soulful Education announced recently the appointment of Michal Fox Smart as the organization’s first director of North American operations. Smart, who is currently associate principal of Judaic Studies at Bi-Cultural Day School in Stamford, will take up her new post as of August 2018.
A recognized leader in innovation and curriculum design, Smart is the recipient of the Grinspoon Award for Excellence in Jewish Education, the JEIC Education Innovation Award, and was one of 10 designers re-envisioning day school education on the Hakaveret design team. She is the editor of Kaddish: Women’s Voices (Urim, 2013), winner of the 2013 National Jewish Book Award. She is also a pioneer in Jewish outdoor and environmental education, and a founder of the TEVA Learning Center. A Fulbright scholar in Jewish thought, Smart is an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, the Melton Senior Educators Program, and Machon Pardes.
In her new position, Smart will initially direct the follow-up efforts of Ayeka’s Soulful Spiritual Development Program, supervising the team of Ayeka senior educators working with 12 Jewish day schools, sponsored by grants from the Avi Chai, Kohelet, Mayberg, and Jim Joseph Foundations. Ayeka, which was founded in 2006 with the mission of providing teachers and individuals with the tools to breathe life into Jewish text study, plans to expand its North American operations to include a program for parents.
“Ayeka has an extraordinary team of educators and staff, and I’m excited and privileged to work with them. I have seen the impact of Ayeka’s approach first-hand, and look forward to sharing it with other day schools across the country. Students, as well as adults, crave meaning, genuine connection, and spiritual experience. Ayeka makes that accessible within the day school classroom.”
In her new role, Smart will continue to consult with Bi-Cultural Day School, which two years ago became the middle school in the country to participate the Ayeka program.
“We are thrilled for Michal Smart as she takes on this incredible opportunity to create meaningful and genuine experiences in Jewish education,” said Bi-Cultural Head of School Jackie Herman. “Ayeka has helped Bi-Cultural design a curriculum that further deepens students’ connections to their spiritual identities. We have witnessed the impact this approach has had on our students and we look forward to continuing to watch it flourish.”
For more information on Ayeka, visit www.ayeka.org.il.