ECC Morim.png

For the past ten days we’ve had the pleasure of participating in the 2017 Early Childhood Morim Project, organized by SOS International: Bridging Jewish Communities. This project is targeted at educators and teachers who work in Jewish nurseries and kindergartens. Delegates from three countries have been invited to join this year’s edition of the project: Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania. We, Olga Danek and Małgorzata Pustuł, representatives of JCC Krakow’s ECC „Frajda,” have been fortunate to enjoy the company of fellow educators Dalia Golda („Gradinita Gan Eden,” Bucharest, Romania) and Vanessa Cameron („Gan Balagan,” Sofia, Bolgaria).

We started our trip by taking part in the Jewish Early Childhood Education Conference, organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. As many as 750 teachers gathered together at the conference. Our group attended sessions led by Mark Horowitz (Director of the Sheva Center for Innovation in Early Childhood, Jewish Education & Engagement) and Dr. Erika Brown. At the conference, we met directors and educators from various kindergartens, who invited us to visit their educational institutions during our stay. Dalia and Vanessa worked at the Beth Sholom Early Childhood Center, and we got assigned to the Sondra and Howard Bender Early Childhood Center at the Bender JCC of Greater Washington. Ora Cohen Rosenfeld, Director of the Sondra and Howard Bender Early Childhood Center, and the Center’s teacher Sandy Levine Lanes told us a lot about their work, shared their best practices, and demonstrated how the Reggio Emilia approach was being implemented at their school.

The Reggio Emilia approach, which has evolved into an educational system, is a teaching method focused on preschool and primary education, based on the philosophy of Loris Malaguzzi. It was developed in Italy in 1945, spearheaded by the residents of the town Reggio Emilia, who wanted to open a school that would differ from more traditional educational institutions. According to this approach, teaching is an ever-evolving process, subject to constant changes and transformations depending on the needs and observations of teachers, parents and children. Teachers who practice this method should be open to new knowledge, and the wellbeing of children is both a starting point and a goal.

We’ve been observing the work of the Center’s teachers for a week, while also working with children ourselves. Everyone has been very understanding and patient with us, answering our many questions. In addition to our work at the Center, we’ve also had the opportunity to see other nurseries and kindergartens that use the Reggio Emilia approach: we’ve been given a tour of The Rose and George Teller Preschool of Shaare Tefila (a Jewish religious kindergarten in Maryland), led by Beth Adler, and a tour of Rodef Shalom Preschool, led by its former director Fran Pfeffer.

Our stay and program of events were organized by Mara Bier (Senior Education Officer for Early Childhood Education, Greater Washington area; EC Morim Project Advisor), Glynis Rosenberg Smith (Chief Operating Officer), Alan M. Reinitz (Chief Executive Officer) and Fran Pfeffer (EC Morim Project Advisor). 

JCC Krakow Opens First Jewish Nursery School in Krakow since World War II

Originally published by:

KRAKOW, Poland (JTA) — The JCC of Krakow has received a $500,000 grant from the New York City-based Eric and Erica Schwartz Family Foundation.

The funds will support the creation of an Early Childhood Center at JCC Krakow, located in Kazimierz, the heart of the city’s Jewish district. It will be the first time that a pluralistic Jewish nursery school will be open in Krakow since before World War II. The school is scheduled to open in fall 2017, with a soft opening earlier.

The Early Childhood Center, to be named “Frajda” meaning “joy” in both Yiddish and Polish, will be a Jewish pluralistic nursery school serving the growing number of young Jewish families in Kraków. Frajda will provide a comprehensive Jewish curriculum focusing on the holidays, history, and Jewish identity. The newly designed, state-of-the-art space is being created in consultation with leading Jewish early childhood experts from Poland, the United States, and Israel.

“The preschool years are the ideal time for learning about Jewish culture, values, and traditions. We are so pleased to make it possible for Kraków’s Jewish families to send their children to a school that will focus on providing this foundation for the youngest members of the community,” said Erica Schwartz in a statement.

“Jewish life is once again thriving in Kraków and the Schwartz family believes that this community deserves a future and that Jewish education is an integral part of that future,” said Jonathan Ornstein, executive director of JCC Krakow.

JCC Krakow also received support of The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation to underwrite the annual security needs of Frajda. Lauder was the first philanthropist to commit serious resources to rebuilding Jewish life in Poland after 1990, including restoration efforts in the Kazimierz district and its seven historic synagogues, as well as numerous educational initiatives serving the Jewish population of Kraków. His foundation today is the largest provider of Jewish education in Poland through the Lauder Morasha School in Warsaw and the Lauder E-Learning School for Jewish children in small communities across the country.

"I am proud to extend my close to 30 year commitment to Jewish life in Poland through
partnering with the JCC Krakow, the Schwartz Family, and all those who worked to make the
Frajda Early Childhood Center a reality. It is the fulfilment of my long held dream that
initiatives such as this would become natural, even inevitable, and that the sounds of Jewish
children playing and learning on the streets of Kazimierz would be heard once again".
- Ambassador Ronald S. Lauder, President and Founder, the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation

JCC Krakow was opened in April 2008 by The Prince of Wales. It has quickly established itself as the focal point of Jewish life for the city’s residents, as well as thousands of visitors from around Poland and the world every month. Today it has over 600 active Jewish members, including 75 Holocaust survivors.



About JCC Krakow

The Jewish Community Centre of Krakow (JCC Krakow) provides social, educational, and
community oriented services to the Jewish community of Krakow. Opened in April 2008 by
HRH, The Prince of Wales, the JCC has quickly established itself as the focal point of Jewish
life for Krakowians, as well as thousands of visitors from around the world and Poland every
month. The JCC has over 600 active Jewish members, including 75 Holocaust survivors. For
more information, please visit or