HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal

The God Issue

The God Issue

In Jewish tradition, God alone is the Creator of all and the ultimate embodiment of unity, Oneness. In the 21st century Jewish community, however, God can often be a source of contention and divisiveness. Our community is far from united around questions of God's existence, nature and way of acting, the ways that we can understand God and relate to God. The authors in this issue approach the Big Questions from a wide variety of perspectives and thinkers, but they are united in their concern to bring the God Issue within the classrooms and halls of Jewish day schools.

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Student Voices on God

by Mariashi Groner Mar 31, 2015

"Before you can find God, you must lose yourself.” -Baal Shem Tov

How do day schools help students cultivate a relationship with God? What practices and programs enable students to “get out of themselves” and engage with a Higher Power? We invited schools to describe an experience that empowered students to engage more deeply with God, whether through study, art, music, or some other vehicle for opening up their imagination and creativity. Here are a few examples that highlight the voice of students in this journey.

Column Keeping The Vision: What Stories Do We Tell?

by Jonathan Woocher Mar 31, 2015

In December, I had the opportunity to participate in the Limmud Conference in the UK. This is the “original” Limmud, the one that has spawned a network of similar conferences held around the globe. It attracts over 2000 participants, including delegations from many of the other countries where Limmud conferences are held.

God in the Christian Classroom: Lessons for Jewish Day Schools

by Sarah Levy Mar 31, 2015

According to the official website of the Protestant Reformed Churches of America, Christian schools date back many centuries, with early schools based on “the Word of God” and fostering a close connection with the Church. Today, Christian schools continue to place God and the Bible at the center. Although, at first glance, their teachings and readings may seem foreign and inapplicable to us, by examining the philosophy of education related to the teaching of God in the schools, centered on eight main focuses, we at Jewish day schools can learn from the Christian tradition and modify their teachings to be more in line with our culture in order to enhance our own schools.

Into The Mystic

by Avi Weinstein Mar 31, 2015
RELATED TOPICS: Jewish StudiesPedagogy

The discomfort in speaking of God in the Jewish studies curriculum is especially palpable in the community Jewish day school setting. It is so much easier to reinforce the values of Torah, peoplehood, tikkun olam, chaggim, Shabbat, even Israel. Although God is the central character in the Jewish drama, reckoning with an adolescent’s struggles with belief does not occupy a central place in many Jewish studies curricula. Whether it’s assumed or ignored, the absence of discussing the most fundamental relationship or non-relationship in Judaism would seem to beg the question: What makes this the concept that often dare not be mentioned, and why?

Encountering God through the Texts of Life

by Sue Levi Elwell and Nancy Fuchs Kreimer Mar 31, 2015
RELATED TOPICS: Jewish Studies

Sue Levi Elwell and Nancy Fuchs Kreimer are the editors of, as well as contributors to, Chapters of the Heart: Jewish Women Sharing the Torah of Our Lives, an anthology of personal essays that discuss the ways that Jewish texts play a role in the authors’ lives. The book is a recent National Jewish Book Award finalist. This interview is published in partnership with the Jewish Book Council.

Grappling with Proofs of G-d

by Howard Finkelstein Mar 31, 2015
RELATED TOPICS: Jewish StudiesPedagogy

As our students reach their teen years, their analytical skills begin to develop, and they begin to question preconceived notions of G-d, even to the point of doubting His existence. Do we, their teachers, ignore these questions, or do we take a proactive approach by enabling our students to understand and to evaluate philosophical formulations regarding the presence of G-d?

God's Time

by Elliott Rabin Mar 31, 2015
RELATED TOPICS: Jewish Studies

November 18, 1883, known as the “day of two noons,” was a turning point in the history of human consciousness. This was the day when standard time began. Previously, if people wanted to tell time, the ultimate artibiter was the sun. Since the sun rises and sets at a different moment depending on latitude and longitude, each town would effectively set it’s own time. The original timepieces were of course sundials; clocks and watches, increasingly affordable and widely owned in the 19th century, also reflected the owner’s local time. An enormous clock, generally placed on the town hall or the tallest church, would set the standard for the region. Clocks were at the service of the sun, helping to quantify the intervals between one sunrise and the next. Nature, not mankind, set the hour and minute hands.

Almighty? No Way! - Embracing the God We Already Love

by Bradley Shavit Artson Mar 13, 2015
RELATED TOPICS: Jewish Studies

Sometimes life presents us with challenges so arresting, so shattering that they change everything. This is the tale of a series of such moments, which began with my son’s diagnosis with autism, sending me into a tailspin, and sundering my conventional ideas of God and Torah.

Debate - The Key to Nurturing Lifelong Engagement with God

by Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi Mar 12, 2015

If teaching about God in our schools is enormously complex, nurturing a relationship with God is exponentially even more complex. Even without engaging in modern theological dilemmas, many of our classic sacred texts and their commentaries reveal a wide spectrum of God’s attributes, God’s “personality” and God’s relationship with humanity and with the Jewish people.

Setting Boundaries with Administrator’s Children

by Cooki Levy, "Dear Cooki Advice Column" Mar 12, 2015

My children are students in the school where I serve as an administrator. As you might imagine, this situation raises a host of questions and concerns regarding the setting of proper boundaries and avoiding any appearance of favoritism. Issues arise nearly every day, from “Should I say hello in the hallway?” to “How do I deal with my child’s teachers?” What guidance can you offer those of us—and there are a great many—who are navigating these unaccustomed waters?

Send questions to hayidion@ravsak.org, with "Dear Cooki" in the subject line.