Barrie Halpern’s Jewish educational experience is vast, and began with a valuable “informal” Jewish leadership experience at Jewish sleep away camp and youth groups. She was a camper/counselor at URJ Joseph Eisner Camp for Living Judaism (Great Barrington, MA), and Youth Advisor for a number of youth groups. She firmly and passionately believes in both informal and formal Jewish education and subscribes to the following mantra and philosophy: “If you want students to have a Jewish background, give them a Jewish playground.” This holds true for students at any age. Learning should be stimulating, motivating and fun for children and adults.
In September of 1994 Barrie began her “formal” Jewish education career. She taught Judaic Studies at Temple B’nai Shalom (West Orange, NJ) and served as the Summer Early Childhood teacher and Interim Director at White Meadow Temple Nursery and Kindergarten (Rockaway, NJ). Barrie taught 6th & 7th grade Judaic Studies at Adath Shalom in Morris Plains for 10 years and simultaneously began her 15 year relationship with Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston. At Temple B’nai Abraham, Barrie taught First Grade, Dalet class (6th) Hebrew prayer, and was the Coordinator and Holocaust educator for Hey (7th) class. In 2001, she became the Assistant Director at Temple B'nai Abraham. This experience cemented her decision to make Jewish education her career, and earned her the nickname, the “Jewish Cheerleader”. Barrie knew that this was more than just a profession; it was her lifetime goal to share her passion, pride and love of Judaism.
In 2010 Barrie proudly advanced her career and became the Education Director at Temple Beth Am in Parsippany, NJ. She took over the Kindergarten through 10th grade Hebrew School, revamping and revitalizing the curriculum, programs and educational systems, including hiring experienced and talented educators. Barrie preferred a “hands on” leadership approach, refusing to confine herself to the school office. She immersed herself into all aspects of the school and Temple by continuing to teach, tutor and participate in Education Committee meetings, given an honorary seat on the Board of Trustees and volunteer on other committees related to the school. All of this was in addition to her responsibilities as the Education Director. At Temple Beth Am Barrie developed and taught a new curriculum for the Hey class (7th grade) involving Holocaust studies, holidays, and performing the mitzvah (commandment) of Gemilut Chasadim (volunteering), by taking the students into the community to help . She also revitalized, modernized and taught the Confirmation Academy (8th-10th grades) using contemporary and relevant subjects for today’s teenagers. Parents often told Barrie that her fun programs and her zest for loving Judaism enticed students to “want to go to Hebrew School” and to continue to learn after he/she became a Bar/Bati Mitzvah.
Barrie emphasizes the importance of teaching students middot (values), in addition to ensuring Hebrew prayer and Judaic proficiency as part of a comprehensive Jewish education. She strives to develop kind, helpful and caring individuals that will perform tikkun olam, (repairing of the world) and demonstrate menschlikite, (compassion) to those in need.
Barrie prides herself on getting to know each student and their family personally, optimizing the positive relationship to be gained. She is always looking to learn and grow from her students. This reciprocity makes the learning process, personal, productive, fun and most important memorable!
Barrie holds a B.A. in Art from Binghamton University and was a former commercial artist before embarking on her career in Jewish education. She is married to her High School sweetheart Steven for 28 years and has two adult children, Emily and Adam.