The Greater Boston Jewish Coalition for Literacy

(GBJCL) mobilizes the Jewish community to help elementary school children discover the joy of reading. Through partnerships with synagogues, Jewish community organizations, day schools and local businesses GBJCL engages volunteers in school based one-to-one reading tutoring, book drives and advocacy efforts in under-served communities.  The GBJCL provides professional training and resources to enable program participants to provide the most effective support to the students and schools they serve. To learn more about the GBJCL, click here.

GBJCL accepts applicants throughout the year to participate as volunteers in our tutoring program. If you are interested in sharing your time and talents by supporting students in our area schools please fill out our volunteer application by clicking the link at the top right of this page.

News and Announcements

Upcoming New Volunteer Trainings at the JCC in Newton

  • Tuesday September 23rd
  • Tuesday October 7th
  • Tuesday October 21st
  • Tuesday November 4th

All trainings will be from 10:00am–12:30pm

Tribute to NJCL and GBCJL founder Leonard Fein

Recently the Jewish Coalition for Literacy lost its founder Leonard (Leibel) Fein Z’L.  Leibel was a strong force in the American Jewish community, a progressive advocate and visionary. For the Greater Boston Jewish Coalition for Literacy (GBJCL) he meant a great deal.  In 1996, when Bill Clinton was running for re-election, he delivered a speech in which he proposed that we define the ability to read by the end of third grade a “national goal.” Leibel, a veteran social justice activist, had for many years used a massive Jewish tutoring program as an example of how Jews might usefully engage with the larger society. Upon learning of President Clinton’s proposal, Fein’s established the National Jewish Coalition for Literacy, intended as a framework that would enable the mobilization of Jews as volunteer tutors.

During the 1997-1998 school year, Leibel’s program was piloted here in Boston. The program was received with enthusiasm, and was immediately “rolled out” to other communities.  So far, 47 communities across the country have mounted tutoring programs like Boston’s all thanks to Leibel. Roughly 12,000 volunteers across the country spend at least one hour a week working one-on-one with public school students to help them meet their learning goals.

 Personally, I had the privilege of working with Leibel as GBJCL Director, meeting over the years in his downtown loft piled high with books and cameras. Together Leibel and I would probe our program for areas to improve, methods to enhance and ways to tell the hundreds of stories of success. Leibel and I also had a common  passion for photography and I relished in the images and stories he would share at each visit.  On one occasion we even discovered that we attended the same Habonim summer camp in Michigan!  I had the pleasure of recounting for him how a summer experience he helped shaped continued to create lasting memories and ignite a passion for Jewish social justice for so many over the years. 

A tribute in the Forward noted “Across the decades he (Leibel) built lasting institutions for the progressive Jewish community. Each of these organizations in its own way preserves his memory: without food we cannot live, without education we have no future and without thoughtful conversation we cannot thrive.”  

GBJCL together with our JCL affiliates, is a tribute to Leibel’s legacy and his mission to give every child a chance to succeed.  We wish comfort and healing to his family and all who loved him.  May his memory be for a blessing.

-Vita Murrow, GBJCL Director

"Reading takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere." - Hazel Rochman, Author and ALA Booklist Editor.