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Creating impactful online educational experiences

Creating impactful online educational experiences

Spertus creates in
timate—and impactful—experiences online

In spite of the world’s weighty challenges, we are fortunate to live in a time when we can deliver impactful education remotely and keep our community of Spertus learners close, in spite of the need to remain distant.

Since the COVID-19 crisis began, more than 2,500 participants have taken advantage of Spertus programs online.

For decades, Spertus Institute has been a respected leader in distance learning. During the pandemic, we have drawn on our experience to develop and provide a wide range of online offerings. We have offered programs to build community and connections, nurture new skills, and engage with Jewish innovators, writers, and thinkers.

We have been awed by our participants: by their engagement, excellent questions, ideas, and ongoing pursuit of knowledge.

Spertus Institute's Jewish Community Networking Night 2020

Jewish Community Networking Night

Spertus Institute has long hosted an annual event for community volunteers, consultants, and professionals.

Called Jewish Community Networking Night, this popular program has brought hundreds of participants together to enjoy each other’s company and enhance their professional tool kits. The evening has seeded partnerships, spurred program ideas, matched candidates to positions, and fostered lasting connections.

This past fall, Spertus took the event online, opening the virtual doors to participants worldwide. The evening was an overwhelming success, with registrants from 33 U.S. states and Canadian provinces, as well as France, Italy, Israel, and South Africa.

Special guest Hillary Rea, a Moth StorySLAM winner and founder/host of Tell Me A Story, taught participants to craft five-word life stories.

Also part of this year’s event, the 2020 Innovation Award were presented to KOVAL Distillery. As COVID-19 struck and many on the front lines were without adequate supplies, KOVAL founders Sonat and Robert Birnecker and their staff made an extraordinary decision and a truly impressive pivot to produce alcohol-based sanitizer for first responders, community organizations, medical institutions, essential businesses, and the general public. In doing so, they saved jobs and lives.

Continuing the evening's impact, a post-event Networking Night Directory was created to foster continued connection, because more than just a celebration, the ongoing purpose of this event is to build community and create opportunities for professional growth.

Among the post-program comments: “I was skeptical about a virtual networking event, but ended up entirely impressed,” “Hillary’s portion was really fun—and valuable, too,” and “It was terrific to see so many people and to be able to participate.”

Thank you to sponsors ACS, Associated Advisors, and Zelda's Catering for their support.

Spertus Institute in South America

Teaching resilience in South America

Spertus Institute has widened our reach to work with students from South America.

The initiative began with a Global Jewish Leadership Seminar in 2019—presented at Spertus with the JDC and Jewish United Fund of Chicago.

Building on this platform, Spertus teamed with the Leon Avayu Fundacion and the Círculo Israelita de Santiago to share our expertise online with Jewish educators from Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Uruguay. We introduced participants to new ways of thinking about crisis and resilience and provided innovative educational tools for them to use in their own work.


Collections and reflections

Although our Ground Level Arts Lab remains quiet, this hasn’t stopped us from our exploring the ways that the art and objects in Spertus Institute’s collections convey the Jewish experience. We’ve been weaving research into course curricula, engaging with constituents online, and planning for future projects. 

In November, we invited Stanford art historian Dr. Richard Meyer for an online behind-the-portraits look at Andy Warhol’s Ten Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century. With our highly engaged online audience, we explored how and why Andy Warhol memorialized Sarah Bernhardt, Louis Brandeis, Martin Buber, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, George Gershwin, Franz Kafka, the Marx Brothers, Golda Meir, and Gertrude Stein.

We considered these choices through a twentieth-century lens and discussed who might best represent Jews today. We hope to be able to share this series and other highlights from our collection with you in the months ahead.

Sign up for information on openings and program opportunities as confirmed.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Image at left

Among recent programs, award-winning Israeli author Ayelet Gunder-Goshen spoke passionately with Spertus online attendees about her influences and the international impact of her work.