Temple Kol Ami Rabbi Jeremy Schneider (at right in sunglasses, holding banner) takes part in the annual Phoenix MLK march with members of his temple and others in the Jewish community.

A Scottsdale rabbi has received a prestigious title from the Association of Reform Jewish Educators. Temple Kol Ami Rabbi Jeremy Schneider now holds the title of Reform Jewish Educator (RJE).

“I am grateful, humbled and proud to be recognized by my peers to signify my achievement of academic and professional standards of excellence as an educational leader,” Schneider said.

Since the early 1980s, when the titles were first handed out, 570 educators have been named RJEs.

The road to the RJE dates back to 1968. Before then, there were no requirements or training to be a professional Jewish educator in the Reform tradition. In 1968, the title Fellow in Religious Education (FRE) was authorized by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations-Central Conference of American Rabbis Joint Commission on Jewish Education. Over the next 15 years, 42 members of what was then called the National Association of Temple Educators were granted the FRE. 

In the mid-1970s, the joint commission and other groups began exploring new standards for the creation of Reform Jewish Educators. In 1982, new criteria established academic and professional standards for all educators.

To receive the RJE title, candidates must meet criteria in one of four categories: rabbinic ordination, cantorial investiture, a master’s in Jewish education and a master’s in Jewish study. 

A Houston native, Schneider attended rabbinical school at Hebrew Union, where he received master’s degrees in Hebrew Letters and Jewish education. He also earned certificates in synagogue management and pre-marital and marital counseling. 

In 2008, Schneider was one of six Americans chosen for an interfaith tour in Egypt and Syria sponsored by the State Department. In 2010, he was a keynote speaker at the 47th Annual Islamic Society of North America Convention in Chicago. In August 2015, he marched in the NAACP-organized “America’s Journey for Justice,” a 40-day, 860-mile march commemorating the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement. In 2017, he participated in the American Peace Caravan in Abu Dhabi and Morocco. He returned to Abu Dhabi in December to attend the Fifth Assembly of the Forum for Promoting Peace.

“For many years, I have worked hard to teach, inspire and model what it means to ‘do Jewish’ every day,” Schneider said. JN

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