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About Us2019-08-06T14:20:41-07:00

About Us

Our Mission

The Institute for Curriculum Services (ICS) is dedicated to improving the quality of K-12 education on Jews, Judaism, and Israel in the United States. We do this by developing standards-aligned curricula and training teachers around the country.

We believe an excellent education is essential to building a strong civil society, where all people can flourish.

Our History

Launched in 2005, ICS addresses historical inaccuracies and misinformation about Judaism and Jewish history in public school textbooks. Issues that ICS has identified range from blaming Jews for the crucifixion to misrepresentations of Jewish holidays to supercessionism, the idea that Judaism became obsolete after the birth of Christianity. In 2017, reflecting its commitment to teachers, ICS expanded its scope to offer more professional development opportunities for history and social studies educators nationwide.

Our Mission

The Institute for Curriculum Services (ICS) is dedicated to improving the quality of K-12 education on Jews, Judaism, and Israel in the United States. We do this by developing standards-aligned curricula and training teachers around the country.

We believe an excellent education is essential to building a strong civil society, where all people can flourish.

Our History

Launched in 2005, ICS addresses historical inaccuracies and misinformation about Judaism and Jewish history in public school textbooks. Issues that ICS has identified range from blaming Jews for the crucifixion to misrepresentations of Jewish holidays to supercessionism, the idea that Judaism became obsolete after the birth of Christianity. In 2017, reflecting its commitment to teachers, ICS expanded its scope to offer more professional development opportunities for history and social studies educators nationwide.

Who We Are

Aliza Craimer Elias, Director

Aliza directs the Institute for Curriculum Services and is responsible for internal operations, external relationships, resource development, and the creation of new initiatives to strengthen K-12 education. Aliza joined ICS as its first full-time staff person at ICS in 2006 and has served as Director since 2013. She completed a Master’s degree with distinction in Modern Jewish Studies at Oxford and a B.A. Hons in Psychology from the University of Calgary.

Dr. Janet Bordelon, Senior Editor

Janet oversees the Review Department at ICS, ensuring the accuracy of the Jewish content of social studies textbooks, other instructional materials and state social studies content. Before joining ICS, Janet served as a classroom educator in secondary schools and university educational settings. She taught courses connected to the history of educational policy, church-state issues in American history, and American Jewish history. Her Ph.D. is from New York University, and she is writing a book about Leo Pfeffer and the school choice movement.

Michelle Wolfson, Reviewer and Review Coordinator

Michelle analyzes social studies textbooks and other instructional materials to improve the accuracy of content relating to Jews, Judaism, and Israel, researches state processes, and assesses ICS’s impact. Previously, Michelle worked as a synagogue education director, a curriculum specialist, editor, tech writer, Judaic Studies teacher, and also taught literature and composition at UC Berkeley. She earned her BA in English Literature and a minor in Philosophy.

Alison Scott, Program Coordinator

Alison works to advance ICS’s ability to plan and deliver professional development opportunities for K-12 educators around the United States by supporting its trainers at more than 100 conferences and regional trainings a year. Prior to joining ICS, Alison was a student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she received a BA in Psychology.

Regional Trainers

Andrew Askuvich

Midwest

Andrew delivers regional conference presentations and conducts trainings throughout the Midwest and serves as a local resource for teachers, school districts, and Jewish community partners in the region. Prior to joining ICS, Andrew taught social studies and coordinated service learning opportunities at Hyde Park Academy High School in Chicago. He has a BA in History from George Washington University and an MA in Education from Northwestern University.

Dori Gerber

South

Dori presents at conferences and conducts trainings in the Southern states and serves as a local resource for teachers, school districts, and Jewish community partners in the region. Prior to this, she was an educator in both public and private settings for 17 years, most recently as an elementary school teacher in Orlando. Dori earned a BS in Public Relations from the University of Florida and an MA in Education from Nova Southeastern University.

Steve Goldberg

Northeast

Based in New York City, Steve conducts trainings, presents at conferences, and works with teachers throughout the Northeast. Prior to joining ICS, Steve taught world history and served as social studies department chairman at New Rochelle HS for over 40 years. In addition, he has been active on both New York State Council for the Social Studies and the National Council for the Social Studies, serving as the NCSS President in 2011. Steve received his BA in history from the University of Rochester and MA in Asian Studies from Yale University.

Our Impact

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Teachers have participated in trainings
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US cities have hosted ICS training events
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Of teachers would recommend ICS’s training to others
Students Impacted
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Students have been impacted, and counting
States Benefit
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States have benefited from improved education
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Schools have sent teachers to ICS trainings

Consulting

ICS offers consultative services to publishers, policymakers, and Jewish community organizations regarding accurate K-12 resources.

Careers

Interested in joining our team?

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FAQs

In 1989, California reintroduced teaching about religion in public schools (there had been a prevailing fear for years that people would teach religion, instead of teaching about religion – a critical distinction). This development, led the Executive Director of the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Relations Council to wonder what the new textbooks would teach about Jews and Judaism. Unfortunately, the new textbooks included egregious misinformation and stereotypes. Judaism was depicted as harsh and punitive. Jews were blamed for the crucifixion of Jesus. Jewish holidays and beliefs were misrepresented and not treated with the same respect as other religions. Textbooks presented Judaism as irrelevant or obsolete with the advent of Christianity. The realization that there was such significant misinformation about Jews and Judaism and that there were no national efforts to promote accuracy in this area of history was a driving factor in creating the Institute for Curriculum Services (ICS) in 2005.

ICS specializes in Jews, Judaism, and Jewish history (ancient, medieval, and modern). Its staff have academic backgrounds in these areas. ICS believes that accurate K-12 education is critical to ensuring an informed citizenry and civil society. ICS takes a scholarly, historical approach to Judaism and Jewish history, with a heavy emphasis on primary source documents. ICS believes that key tasks of social studies education include training students to think like historians and preparing them to be informed consumers of information. Part of the work of a historian is to grapple with the messy historical record, which includes a wide range of primary sources. Being an informed consumer means having the ability to apply essential critical thinking skills, including understanding the difference between fact and opinion. In teaching about a topic like the Arab-Israeli conflict and peace process, a subject about which many people have strong feelings, teachers have found that ICS’s curriculum and training provide a scholarly, nuanced, and balanced way to teach.

When it comes to teaching about religion, ICS advocates for the application of the same standards of historicity across the board. For example, we contend that it is inappropriate to state that there is no archaeological evidence for the Exodus in one sentence and then to state in the next that Jesus walked on water. We suggest framing religious beliefs as such, e.g., “According to the Hebrew Bible…”and ”According to the Gospels…” ICS believes it is critical to differentiate between religious beliefs and historical facts and to treat all religions with respect and nuance.

Accuracy is a value in itself. At a time when public discourse in America is becoming less committed to accuracy and facts, we think it is all the more important that we study historical documents and ground our understanding of history in them. ICS is non-partisan and does not comment on or endorse particular solutions to conflict. We also welcome diverse points of view and feel that that diversity, which is mirrored in classrooms, enriches everyone’s learning.

ICS’s commitment to accuracy is reflected in teachers’ evaluations of our trainings. 99.5% of teachers who have attended an ICS training would recommend it to a colleague. Teachers repeatedly express appreciation for our approach to difficult topics, our evenhandedness, and our openness to different perspectives and to questions.

We invite you to take a look at our primary source-based curriculum, videos, and other resources. They are freely available on this website.

ICS’s development of curricular resources are guided by, and are in alignment with, state and national standards. ICS looks at state social studies content standards and Frameworks, the national C3 Framework for Social Studies, with a particular focus on Dimension 2: History and Dimension 3: Evaluating Sources and Using Evidence.

In addition, ICS resources on teaching about religion are aligned with the Religious Studies Supplement to the C3 Framework (on p. 91 of the Framework). ICS teacher trainings highlight the connections between specific state standards and ICS resources.

ICS offers revenue-neutral professional development to districts across the country. With expert trainer-educators nationwide, ICS works with district education coordinators, directors, superintendents, and other professionals charged with professional development to create a customized training that meets the district’s and teachers’ needs.

Trainings are typically for middle school and high school social studies educators and range between 3 and 6 hours in length. All ICS professional development workshops include historical content aligned with state standards and collaborative experiences that will engage all levels of learners. If you would like to find out more, please contact us.

Yes! ICS operates under the 501c3 status of the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Relations Council. ICS is responsible for raising 100 percent of the funds for its budget, has a distinct mission, and operates independently in pursuit of that mission, which is to promote accurate K-12 education on Jews, Judaism, and Jewish history, including the establishment of the State of Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict and peace process.
100% of ICS’s support comes from foundations and individual supporters who share our commitment to ensuring accurate K-12 education on Jewish subjects in public school. Like many of us, ICS supporters are concerned about rising intolerance, bigotry, and antisemitism and view high quality public education as an antidote to hate and prejudice.