Photo of Bruce Powell
Dr. Bruce Powell

Dr. Bruce Powell was the founder and Head of School of de Toledo High School (dTHS), formerly New Community Jewish High School, in West Hills, California.  In addition to founding dTHS, he has helped to found, develop, and lead two other Jewish high schools in the Los Angeles area over the past 37 years including the Milken Community High School, and Yeshiva University of Los Angeles High School. He has also consulted on the development of 23 Jewish high schools in cities throughout the United States. 

Dr. Powell holds a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Southern California, and has won both the Milken Family Foundation Jewish Educator Award (2005) and the Covenant Award (2008) for his contributions to Jewish education.  Most importantly, Dr. Powell has four adult children with his wife, Deborah, and they have personally invested 52 “child” years in Jewish day school education.

Education:

PhD, University of Southern California
M.A., California State University, Northridge
B.A., University of California, Los Angeles

On November 3, 2019, Dr. Gil Graff, Head of the Builders of Jewish Education (BJE) in Los Angeles, will be visiting our class.  Aside from his role as an educational leader, Dr. Graff is a world expert on the history of Jewish education.  

Dr. Graff will provide our students with a vast historical overview for Jewish education thereby providing the students with a deep understanding of how and why we have arrived at our current state of Jewish education in contemporary America.

Of course, the question often arises: “Why is knowing this history important?”

My question is, “How could it not be important?”

Today, there is often a deep ignorance of history in almost every sphere of American life.  College students often have trouble placing in historical time and context the American Civil War, or the Vietnam War, or the moment when women were given the right to vote, or when Jim Crow laws ended.  Ignorance of our history is, in a word, dangerous. Moreover, it can be debilitating to our understanding of how we decide to move forward as a nation.

So, too, with Jewish education.  As educators, we must understand the historical and social contexts of how Jewish education started, grew, and evolved within the democratic revolution of American history.  How did it differ from what transpired before the Emancipation in Europe? What was the genesis for Jewish education when Jews landed at Ellis Island, or Galveston, Texas? How and why has the curriculum and venue for Jewish education evolved over time?  And, based upon this history, what ought Jewish education look like for our contemporary youth, and, for that matter, our adults?

The answers to these questions, and others, are informed by a clear view of history, knowing from whence we came and thereby helping us to determine where we must go.

Thank you to Dr. Graff for providing the necessary history and insights to guide our work.