Ever-Reforming: Educational Technology and the Changing Rabbi

In the early 1800s, the blackboard was an innovative technology that forever changed the way in which students interacted with the teacher and material in the classroom. Now a blackboard or dry-erase board is a clue that you have walked into a classroom. This technology changed the physical space as well as teaching model in classrooms around the world. Of…

Helping Our Youngest Jews Find Meaning in Music

The music that we hear often influences, whether consciously or not, the emotions that we feel at any given time. Music that is upbeat and in a major key suggests emotions such as joy and satisfaction. A slower tempo and a minor key make us more likely to feel such emotions as sadness or sorrow What happens when we hear…

Teaching Midrash in the Reform Sunday School Setting

The study of rabbinic text is essential to not only understanding Jewish tradition but also developing Jewish identity. Studies in Mishnah, Talmud, and Midrash force us to struggle with the reality of being Jewish just as our early sages did long ago. Facing complicated circumstances, our sages had to develop a mindset to ensure the continued transmission of faith, knowledge,…

Teaching Interfaith Cooperation: An Example of Service-Learning as Ethical Learning

I disagree with the ethic undergirding the oft-quoted rabbinic aphorism “the study of Torah is equal to them all” (Mishnah Peah 1:1). I disagree because the rabbis articulate in this statement a worldview in which “[l]earning Torah was…the supreme commandment.”[1] Chaim Stern in Gates of Prayer amended “the study of Torah is equal to them all” to read “‘the study…

Making Jewish History Come Alive

What is your favorite memory from your childhood related to Judaism? Is it your mother lighting Shabbat candles? Is it your grandfather leading the seder? The feeling of hot dripping wax from the Hanukkiah on your fingers? Whatever it is, my guess is it is not from Sunday school. Why is that? Well, many of our Jewish memories are based…

A Spring Reflection on a Year of Service

Arise my beloved, my fair one, come away! For now the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The blossoms have appeared in the land, the time of singing has come, and the song of the turtledove is heard in our land. The green figs form on the fig tree, the vines in blossom give off fragrance. Arise,…

When Race is only for Blacks: Unpacking Identity as a Means to Inclusion

“It was for this reason that man was first created as one person: to promote peace among the creations, that no man would say to his friend, ‘My ancestors are greater than yours’” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5). This summer I had the privilege of visiting Camp Bechol Lashon in Petaluma, California. As a summer camp for Jews of color, Bechol Lashon…

Listening and Responding: Learning to Teach

I have taught first grade at a Sunday school for four years. Each year started off the same. I would meet with the director of education and talk about the curriculum for that year and the overarching classroom themes. I would spend some time exploring and setting up my classroom, and then plunge headfirst into teaching Judaism to children. At…

Mi She Nichnas Adar

Last year around this time, about a foot of snow fell in Jerusalem. The streets were silent and the city was shut down. It was Rosh Hodesh Adar, the first day of the month of Adar. Every month, I would celebrate Rosh Hodesh with Women of the Wall. My roommate and I looked out our window to the snow covered…

Find a Day of Rest

In the Torah, God instructs Israel, “Therefore the people of Israel shall keep Shabbat, to observe Shabbat throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant” (Exodus 31:16). We are told that, after six days of Creation, God rested. Thus, according to Jewish tradition, we should all have a day of rest in our week as God did. I plan on being…

Parashat Mikketz and Professional Development

I was of two minds about my TJF fellowship at Adath Israel synagogue as my year began. On the one hand, I was eager to do more than teach in a classroom setting. I wanted to put my newly-minted MA in Religious Education to work. I wanted to take the educational theories and the ideas about educational culture and use…

A New Kind of Song

Think back to a favorite memory of a Jewish experience. Maybe you grew up Jewish and remember a yearly Passover Seder with your family. Maybe your first encounter with Judaism was a recent Shabbat service. Maybe your child came home from summer camp excited about the friends she made. Now, think about what gave that experience the meaning to imprint…

What I Dream / מה אני חולמת

בחודש יולי, החברים של בית כנסת ”שולם,“ שבוא אני מתמחה כרבה, יסעו  לישראל. לעת עתה, יש ארבעים חברי קהילה שנרשמו לנסיעה. אם חמישה אנשים נוספים ירשמו, תהיה לי הזדמנות ללוות אותם למסע. הקבוצה תתחלק לשני אוטובוסים, ואני אלווה את האוטובוס השני כמדריכת הטיול. אז, עכשיו אני חולמת על כל מה שאלמד את אנשי הקהילה שלי, אם תהיה לי הזדמנות לנסוע…

Creating Space to be Real

A Chassidic story tells the tale of a man named Zusya who lies on his deathbed, crying. His students come to comfort him and ask why he is crying. Zusya says to them, “I am afraid.” His students reply that he should not be afraid because he has been a pious man, a devoted student, and a caring person. Zusya…

Honoring Our Elders as They Age

How old is the oldest person you know? A bizarre question, I will grant that, but I mean it in earnest. We live in a rapidly aging society in which people over the age of 65 constitute the fastest growing demographic. Looking even closer at this cohort, the balance is tipped toward those over 85, as Rabbi Richard Address suggested…

Service Learning Builds Character

Service-learning is more than an academic exercise designed to link experience and education. It is an ethical exercise intended to build character. Service-learning assumes a sacred dimension when doing good work is also understood as doing God’s work, when the moral and the spiritual domains converge. In order to assess the impact of a service-learning project for rabbinical students now…

Leading from Within

As Jewish professionals, we strive to infuse our leadership styles with Jewish wisdom. But, with so many texts, both written and living, and with pressure to help our organizations find success, what does it mean to lead Jewishly in real life? Throughout my service-learning experiences, I have searched for an answer to this question. As a fellow, I have made…

Continuing the Conversation

Interfaith dialogue can be tricky in two ways. In everything we say and in everything we don’t. To put it another way, should we focus on what we have in common and attempt to build bonds based on our similarities? Or do we focus on what divides us and attempt to navigate those aspects of our traditions that stand in…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 29 other followers