About Me

IMG_2565Debby Jacoby Ruben, M.A.J.E., RJE

I come to my work from a place of deep passion and beliefs.  I deeply believe that all educators need more support, ongoing learning opportunities and many more connections and conversations with others in the field of education.  Teachers are each other’s greatest resource –  all aiming for the same goals – and we can all be better, together.  I deeply believe that students today should have the best learning experiences possible during their academic career, specifically the K-12 years that launch them into adult life and their world of tomorrow.  That means a lot of stretching for educators to help connect yesterday, today and tomorrow for themselves and then – their students.

And I most fervently believe that every student in a Jewish educational setting needs all that – and more – the best of learning experiences intertwined with rock solid connections and relationships to all things Jewish in order to guide them into healthy, involved and life-long adult Jewish life.  Families choose day school education for their children for a variety of reasons.  The schools job, I believe, is to support a culture where the entire school community – and the total school experience – serves to guide, mentor, and role model for each student from the moment they step into the system until long after they leave.  Each and every teacher – Jewish or not – is engaged in the work of raising up the next generation of Jews.  And in order to succeed at this at the highest level, teachers need support and community every step of the way.

Creating networks that are supportive, collaborative and dynamic and allow for the exchange of resources, ideas and questions – that connect educators locally and globally – is the fire that drives my purpose.  We start by connecting with others in our community, with opportunities to meet face to face – and from there we can reach out and connect anywhere, and with anyone in the world.  Literally.  But until we feel comfortable connecting w colleague-strangers in our own neck of the woods, opening our doors and sharing our lessons, we might not be so comfortable connecting with others we may never meet in person.

MY GOAL is to understand the myriad of ways to leverage technology to deepen the learning and extend the connections in order to make meaning on all levels – personal, religious, communal and global.  Tech tools are exciting, powerful and fun and allow us to go farther, wider and deeper than any time previously.  The objective is the learning, the sharing, the connecting and collaborating.

MY PROFESSIONAL GOAL is to share ways of intentionally integrating the technology with Jewish education, while keeping the focus on Jewish education and not getting distracted by the technology. Intentionality, or כוונה kavannah, is essential when thinking about the delivery of Jewish education. What are the goals, what is the mission, and what are the outcomes of the educational experience?

MY PERSPECTIVE: The activity is *not* the ikar עקר- is not the centerpiece – it is a tool used toward reaching the goal. Integrating education and technology is just another tool in the educator’s tool-box – it is but one way to support a lesson plan or curricular goal. It is, however, a very powerful, flexible, creative and innovative tool and using technology intentionally can create more dynamic, engaging and impressionable lessons. My goal is to support Jewish educators in facilitating the most relevant, exciting, meaningful and joyful education to all learners and actively partnering with the learners – so that Jewish life, learning and experiences are fully embraced. Being alive in the 21st century means using technology in everything we do.  21st century learning and classrooms look very different than they did a century ago.

MY PROCESS:  I am not an expert who assesses, diagnoses and dispenses a prescription.  I facilitate a process with engaged stakeholders who are open to learning, listening and sharing with/from others.  I do not have THE answers; rather I work with teams to help them discover the answers for their community while sitting together around the table and engaging in conversations.  Sometimes the “table” is in the staff room, other times it’s the water cooler, and often times it’ll be in an online space in an asynchronous conversation.

Learn, Share, Connect, Reflect.  Repeat.

We’re in this together.

Debby was with the Jewish LearningWorks (formerly BJE) from 2008-2013.  During her time there she served as Associate Director of the BJE, founded the Center for Educational Leadership, Director of the NESS initiative and the Leadership Development Consultant, the Synagogue School education consultant and JCF-Bay Area Educators Council coordinator.  Prior to working with the synagogue schools, Debby oversaw the Teen Services department, including the former supplementary high school program, Peninsula Havurah High.  Debby supported Bay Area Jewish education by inspiring, supporting and promoting Jewish educators through professional development learning opportunities, community of practice networks, curating and sharing curricular resources and the promotion of educational technology integration.

  • VISIONING: Probing fundamental questions toward developing, articulating and implementing educational vision
  • ALIGNING: Working towards greater systemic alignment between the educational mission, curricular goals and institutional culture.
  • ENRICHING: Developing the pedagogical skills, web tool fluency, content knowledge, and 21st century competency of individual teachers, while creating educational communities across institutional boundaries to enrich the universal Jewish education experience
  • INNOVATING: Integrating technology, content and collaborative curricular resources in order to innovate creative, dynamic and educational strategies and learning projects

Before moving to San Francisco, Debby directed two of Cleveland’s strongest supplementary school programs – the 650-student school (K-12) at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple and the three-campus community (K-8) Cleveland Hebrew Schools.  At each school Debby encouraged and designed innovative programming for Jewish youth, teens, families and adults.  She was selected by her peers to lead the Jewish Educators’ Network in Cleveland and co-led the synagogue’s family Israel trip.

Debby is a recent graduate of the first YU2.0 Education Technology certificate course, through Yeshiva University’s Institute for University School Partnership. This course helps educators develop and advance their skills in the design and implementation of technology-enhanced learning experiences while learning what it means to be an active participant in online professional learning networks.  Debby has studied in Israel and Cleveland earning her Masters Degree in Jewish Education.  She also earned the certificate of RJE from the Reform Movement and has completed graduate work in Holocaust education, including participation in numerous conferences for Holocaust educators at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

Debby was one of a handful of N. American fellows invited to participate in the prestigious two-year Fellowship in Jewish Experiential Learning (JEL) at the Institute for Informal Jewish Education of Brandeis University directed by Dr. Joe Reimer and Dr. Diane Tickton Schuster.  Debby presented at the seminar’s culminating symposium on the topic of “Developing Jewish Educator’s Knowledge Base.”

Debby is the proud mother of two day school graduates – 38 collective years of Jewish education – from preschool to B.A.

It’s not enough to be Jew-ish!