Category: Jewish Sources

Our Online Hebrew Learning Community

“Where’s Michael tonight?” “His mom let me know that he’s going to be absent, he won’t be here.” “Awww man. WAIT IS HE OK?” “Yes, yes, he’s fine. Calm down. He has a soccer game and will do his make up work after class.” “Ok, phew. Well too bad he won’t be on my Hebrew baseball team tonight.” “Ok everyone.…

God Speaks from the Whirlwind

When I was asked to co-teach a combined seventh and eighth grade class, I was excited for the chance to share my Jewish knowledge with the next generation of Jews. Little did I know that, having been asked to teach about hot button issues through a Jewish lens, 2016’s tumultuous political environment would provide more material than I would know…

But from My Students More Than from Them All

R. Chanina said: I have learned much from my teachers, and from my colleagues more than from my teachers, but from my students more than from them all. (Talmud Taanit 7b) This year I have had the privilege of being the Education Fellow at Temple Sholom in Cincinnati, Ohio. Under the leadership of Rabbi Miriam Terlinchamp, this congregation is forging…

We Need Nothing Less Than Passion

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about what should be the single most important attribute in the way we approach our rabbinate. Every time I contemplate this, I come to the same answer: passion. My fellowship with Kulanu, the Reform Community High School, just confirmed the paramount importance of this attribute. During my past year as a fellow, I…

The Oven of Miami

In a famous Talmudic scene from Bava Metzia (59a–b), the Oven of Achnai, the great sages of the rabbinic period are split in debate. Speaking for the minority position is Rabbi Eliezer, who is so certain of his point that he is capable of invoking the natural world as his witnesses and he even receives a divine pronouncement validating him.…

Relationships and Connections

Culture thrives on connection. From the sanctuary to the boardroom, we human beings depend on interpersonal relationships to understand our place in the world, to pursue collaborative endeavors, and to realize our individual ambitions. In that vein, I have a confession to make. I’m a young(-ish) Jewish professional, an about-to-be-ordained rabbi who has worked in a variety of roles and…

Social Media and Misinformation in an Election Cycle

My semester as a fellow at Kulanu—Cincinnati’s Reform Jewish High School coincided with the 2016 presidential election cycle. Coincident with the election cycle the school’s director asked me to develop a semester-long curriculum around social media based on a two-session elective class that I had taught in a synagogue religious school setting. The director wanted to offer a course that…

Place of Business

It is easiest to remember something when you are in the same place you learned it. This is known as the psychological principle of context-dependent memory, and it helps explain why it is so much harder to recognize a colleague from work when you see them at the grocery store. The location of learning embeds cues about the content, but…

Bringing Light into Lives This Holiday Season

Our Sages taught: Gemilut Chasadim (acts of loving kindness) are greater than tzedekah (charity) in three ways: Acts of loving kindness need not involve money because can be extended to both the rich and the poor, the opportunity for acts of loving kindness go beyond the earthly realm, and we can engage in acts of loving kindness toward both the…

Tu Bishvat: Sowing the Seeds of Peace

I was told on more than one occasion growing up that Tu Bishvat was “the Jewish Earth Day” and “a Jewish Hippie Holiday.” I was therefore surprised to learn years later that Tu Bishvat actually had some of its roots in war. One of the major tannaitic sources for this beautiful celebration comes from Deuteronomy 20:19–20, which reads: When in…

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…

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…

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…

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…