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Jewish Federation Lobbies during Sacramento Visit, AJU Taps Powell as Interim Dean

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles held its annual “Lobby Day” on March 22 at the State Capitol.

The L.A. Federation’s Real Estate and Construction (REC) Committee, a premiere real estate network in Los Angeles, gathered in Sacramento to advocate for Jewish causes, meeting with representatives of 20 California legislators representing districts across the state.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ Real Estate and Construction Committee, elected officials and advocacy leaders come together during the Federation’s lobbying day visit in Sacramento. Courtesy of Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles

The Federation’s REC leadership supported legislation to expand access to the California State Nonprofit Security Grant Program (CSNSGP). With hate crimes on the rise nationwide, this much-needed grant will continue to protect diverse communities throughout California, including the Jewish community. The group met with State Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel and members of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, thanking them for their strong and steady leadership promoting the CSNSGP.

Additional participants in the visit included David Bocarsly, executive director of the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California; Rachel Wallace, director of civic engagement at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles; and JPAC lobbyist Cliff Berg, who serves as JPAC’s representative in Sacramento.

Bruce Powell, the new interim dean at AJU’s School for Jewish Education and Leadership. Courtesy of Miller Ink

American Jewish University has named educator Bruce Powell as interim dean of its School for Jewish Education and Leadership, effective July 1.

As interim dean, Powell will oversee AJU’s School for Jewish Education and Leadership — formerly known as the Graduate Center for Jewish Education — which offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in Jewish education and Jewish early childhood education as well as professional development programs.

Powell is a prolific leader of Jewish education, known in Los Angeles and beyond for helping found three Jewish high schools in this city — YULA, Milken Community School and de Toledo High School — and for consulting in the founding of an additional 23 Jewish high schools throughout North America. 

He holds a PhD in education from the University of Southern California and has won both the Milken Family Foundation’s Jewish Educator Award and the Covenant Award for his contributions to Jewish education.

“I am deeply honored to have been selected as the interim dean of the School for Jewish Education and Leadership at American Jewish University,” Powell said in a statement. “As an esteemed academic institution, I am thrilled to collaborate with the distinguished faculty, mentors, and staff to advance the school’s educational and inspirational mission. Through our shared commitment to academic excellence and unwavering dedication to Jewish early childhood education, we will undoubtedly foster a community of passionate educators and leaders that will continue to shape the future of the Jewish community for years to come.”

He succeeds Rachel Lerner, who served for eight years as the dean of the School for Jewish Education and Leadership. According to AJU, Lerner is “stepping down to spend time with her family and explore her next steps.” The university said Lerner played an integral part transforming AJU from an exclusively brick-and-mortar institution to one offering world-class digital programs reaching learners across the country. 

Meanwhile, Powell’s extensive history with AJU includes his current position as a lecturer at its Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. He also previously served as director of Camp Alonim and the Brandeis Collegiate Institute. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Powell as interim dean,” AJU President Jeffrey Herbst said. “As we search for a new dean to lead this critical school, which has a profound impact on Jewish educators and communities throughout North America, we remain committed to providing our students with the highest quality of education and leadership development.”

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