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Sheva Center: Innovation in Early Childhood Jewish Education and Engagement

Redefining excellence in early childhood education.

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Seven Core Elements of Sheva:

1. Children as Constructivist Learners
2. Early Childhood Directors as Visionaries
3. Early Childhood Educators as Professionals
4. Families as Engaged Partners
5. Environments as Inspiration for Inquiry
6. Discover CATCH as Sh’mirat HaGuf (taking care of our bodies)
7. Israel as the Story of the Jewish People

JCC early childhood programs are the largest platform of Jewish early childhood education in North America, touching thousands of young lives annually. Recognizing that reach and responsibility, we have created the Sheva Center, an innovative approach to early childhood education, empowering teachers and directors, and positioning JCC early childhood education centers as examples of excellence.

Sheva, which means seven in Hebrew, is a powerful number in Jewish thought and practice. The Sheva framework employs seven core principles of early care and education and contemporary and ancient texts, using seven Jewish lenses to reveal universal values. Sheva classrooms weave these values throughout their educational day.

By partnering with affiliated JCCs through the Sheva Center, we can best support their early education professionals in promoting and sustaining the best in early childhood Jewish education and engaging families on their Jewish journeys.

A team of ten Sheva faculty—experts in early childhood Jewish education, family engagement, Jewish life and living, and other related specializations—assist our two full-time professionals in guiding JCCs. They all provide on-site and virtual consultations tailored to the needs of each school.

In order to continually measure success, we are assisting six lab communities within JCCs, which will create learning opportunities and materials as a means of testing and evaluating the work in the seven core elements of Sheva through a progressive lens. These JCCs will also continue to strengthen their early childhood centers with serious and regular professional development of educators and administrators.

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Mark Horowitz

Mark Horowitz, a vice president for program and talent at JCC Association of North America, supports the working groups for the Sheva Center, Inclusion, Engaging Families, Mandel Center for Jewish Engagement, and Discover CATCH+. He spent most of his career in early childhood Jewish education, and he was the founding executive director of the Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative (JECEI). For many years, Horowitz thrived as a teacher for two-year-olds. He was ordained as a cantor by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, which also awarded him an honorary doctorate in sacred music, and he served synagogues in Connecticut and New York. Horowitz earned graduate degrees in sacred music, the philosophy of education, and early childhood education. He co-founded Yad B’Yad (Hand in Hand), a Buffalo, New York-based outreach and advocacy non-profit organization that promotes inclusion of people with disabilities. He received a special recognition award at the Van Cliburn Foundation’s 2002 International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs in Fort Worth, Texas. Horowitz and his family are members of the JCC of Greater Buffalo.

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Mackenzie Adams

Designs and implements the operation and administration of the Sheva Center.  Works closely with the Center Director and JCC Early Learning Centers in promoting and sustaining high quality early childhood Jewish education. Serves as the project director for the Sheva Center Leadership Institute for Early Childhood Professionals. Facilitates and maintains Sheva online learning and resources, and acts as the initial point-of-contact for Sheva consultation requests.

Coordinates Discover CATCH: Early Childhood program. Certified as a Discover CATCH master trainer. Provides program support for Health and Wellness Services.

Contact Mackenzie