Ira J. Wise came to Temple Emanu-El after serving Congregation B’nai Israel in Bridgeport, CT from 1995 to 2022. There he worked with lay leaders, parents and teachers faculty to keep Jewish learning on the cutting edge. He believes that we work as partners with parents in helping them rear children who become literate connected Jewish adults.
For many summers, Ira has joined the faculty of the Union for Reform Judaism’s (URJ) Eisner and Crane Lake Camps in Massachusetts’ Berkshire Mountains. He has also chaperoned the teens on the NFTY L’dor V’dor trip to Eastern Europe and Israel. Prior to beginning graduate school, he was proud to serve as a regional director for Young Judaea, a pluralistic Zionist youth organization, which solidified his commitment to Israel and Zionism.
Ira is connected to the larger community of Jewish educators in North America and abroad. He has served in the leadership of ARJE – Association of Reform Jewish Educators, who have granted him the title RJE (Reform Jewish Educator) and the Distinguished Educator Honor. He serves as a mentor for other educators, including new graduates of the School of Education at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). He has been a consultant to several congregations and communities trying to adapt technology in their schools and has led workshops and seminars for teachers and educators around country on a variety of topics.
He also served 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 is a program that brings 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.
Ira is 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. He has also earned a certificate in Spiritual Counseling from Beit T’shuvah in Los Angeles.
Ira has published several Jewish educational texts and articles. His most recent is a set of lesson plans to teach about Civil Discourse published online by the Covenant Foundation. He contributed a chapter in Text Messages: A Torah Commentary for Teens, edited by Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin.
He received his B.A. in Public Administration from the University of Illinois and his M.A. in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles. In 2016 he became a Doctor of Jewish Religious Education (DJRE), conferred by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
He lives on the Upper East Side with his wife Audrey.
Please visit his education blog, Welcome to the Next Level.
Articles by Ira Wise
Take Me Out to the Ball Game – Welcome to the Next Level
Introduction to Civilly Speaking – Welcome to the Next Level
Civilly Speaking: A Curriculum on Civil Discourse – Published by the Covenant Foundation
Yes, I am conflicted. Yes, I love Israel. Yes, I am going (as often as I can). – Welcome to the Next Level