Who is Ira J. Wise?

Audrey and I in Hadera, Israel

My friend Josh says I need this page. I apologize for the frequent use of the words I, my and mine. Writing this in the third person on my own own blog page seems even more obnoxious.

I served as Director of Education at Congregation B'nai Israel in Bridgeport, CT for 27 years and am now the Director of Education Emeritus. I worked with our Vision Team, Adult Jewish Learning Committee and faculty to keep Jewish learning at B’nai Israel on the cutting edge. I believe that we work as partners with parents in helping them rear children who become literate connected Jewish adults.

Most recently I served as Interim Director of Kehillah Synagogue in Chapel Hill, NC. Kehillah is an extraordinary congregation that is a member of Reconstructing Judaism. While they do have clergy and staff, the members describe it as DIY synagogue, where all of the members accept responsibility for its daily works and activities.

Most summers I serve on the faculty of the Union for Reform Judaism’s (URJ) Eisner and Crane Lake Camps in Massachusetts’ Berkshire Mountains. I have also chaperoned the teens on the NFTY L’dor V’dor trip to Eastern Europe and Israel (now called Yallah! Israel), for most of the last decade. 

Prior to beginning graduate school, I was proud to serve as a regional director for Young Judaea, a pluralistic Zionist youth organization, which solidified my commitment to Israel and Zionism.

I am connected to the larger community of Jewish educators in North America and abroad. I have served in the leadership of ARJE – Association of Reform Jewish Educators, who also conferred me with the title RJE (Reform Jewish Educator) and the Distinguished Educator Honor

I serve as a mentor for other educators, including new graduates of the Schools of Education at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). I consult with congregations trying to adapt technology in their schools as well as curriculum development and reimagining learning in the congregation. I lead workshops and seminars for teachers and educators around country on a variety of topics.

For seven years I served as a mentor and staff member for the Elaine Breslow Institute (EBI) of Beit T’shuvah. Beit T’shuvah is the first Jewish residential addiction recovery center. EBI was a program that brought together Jewish clergy, educators and other professionals for an immersion into the factors and treatment of addiction, helping them to become first responders and to create programs in their own communities.

I am a graduate of the M² Senior Educators Program. This is a program that selects educators to explore signature educational pedagogies, multidisciplinary perspectives and cutting-edge methods that enable them to articulate, refine and sharpen their practice as experiential Jewish educators. I have also earned a certificate in Spiritual Counseling from Beit T’shuvah in Los Angeles.

I has have published several Jewish educational texts and articles. My most recent is a set of lesson plans to teach about Civil Discourse published online by the Covenant Foundation written with Joel Lurie Grishaver. I aslo contributed a chapter in Text Messages: A Torah Commentary for Teens, edited by Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin.

I received my B.A. in Public Administration from the University of Illinois and my M.A. in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles. In 2016 I became a Doctor of Jewish Religious Education (DJRE), conferred by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

I live in Fairfield, CT with my wife Audrey.