“I just don’t get it,” Shira muttered and flung herself dejectedly into the chair. Prodding a bit, I tried to understand what, exactly, she didn’t get. “Judaism, the rabbis, Halakhah, everything!” she exclaimed as her cadence quickened and her pitch rose. “I just can’t relate to any of it. I don’t buy into this system!”
HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal
Day schools aim to transmit a passion for Judaism to their students. Parents send their children to day school because they want them to cultivate a love of Judaism in all its dimensions. The articles in this issue explore the vital but elusive notion of Jewish inspiration from various angles. How do we define it, measure it, and recognize when we've achieved it? What does a school need to do to become a place that inspires students, faculty and all who work there? In what ways can schools undertake a process of change to improve in their work of inspiring students? And what do students and alumni tell us inspired them? Come to read, learn and be inspired for your work in Jewish education.
Click here to download the PDF and printer friendly version of this issue of HaYidion.
“Thank you so much for this inspirational experience.” These words were repeated many times over by participants as we completed our closing banquet in the brightly colored dining room of the Jewish Community Center of Krakow.
The role of Jewish education is to inspire us to become our best selves. To inspire students, teachers first need to inspire themselves. Teachers don’t need to create inspiration, but model it for their students.
What does it mean to inspire? Doesn’t it all just boil down to being charismatic and a great singer/storyteller?
Middle school students are crying out for meaning—body and soul. During the tender years, when they are plagued by an obsession with pimples and popularity, young adolescents are grasping for autonomy. They are unsure of their place, and test out the boundaries in all directions—with their parents, their teachers and their friendships. Middle schoolers feel powerless, and it is upon schools to show them that they do indeed have sway.
The classic conversation has repeated itself in one faculty room after another. The Hebrew teacher turns to her colleague from the math department. “You are so lucky. The kids don’t give you any trouble. They know that learning math is important. I wish they thought Hebrew was that important.”
Kevin is the author of three highly successful books. He has helped turn creative ideas into reality for many organizations such as Starbucks, Walt Disney, Nike, and Mattel. Kevin has dedicated his life to advancing education, sports and play as a vehicle for social change and success.
Tell us about the red rubber ball: how did it inspire you and what has it come to represent?
I lift up my eyes unto the mountains—from whence cometh my help? Psalm 121:1
It is a pleasure to welcome back readers to the second Prizmah edition of HaYidion, published as Prizmah enters the second half of its launch year. What our authors so generously share in these pages adds I hope to the vast universe of Jewish texts, religious and otherwise, that so richly inspire our communities through the generations.
The theme for this issue of HaYidion is Jewish inspiration. As I sat down to write this column, I was overwhelmed with the effort to select just one example of inspiration from my Jewish heroes, Jewish history, our sacred texts or the remarkable story of the Jewish people. Clearly there are just too many good choices.
Our teachers possess a wide variety of interests, needs and experience; how can our school offer professional learning that is relevant for all?
Dear How Can I Please Them All,
We often come into schools where teachers and leaders have heard of a new idea or are looking to add some spice to their routines. In such cases, we recommend forming Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). In schools where the mission statement includes “developing lifelong learners,” PLCs help the teachers model the very idea that learning never stops.
[Samson] Benderly liked to tell the story about how [in 1900] he broke the news to Dr. Friedenwald that he was leaving medicine to devote himself completely to [Jewish education]. Friedenwald apparently responded by checking Benderly’s pulse to determine whether he was ill. He and his associates considered Benderly’s career decision to be “suicidal” and attempted to dissuade him. “You know, Dr. Friedenwald,” Benderly is said to have retorted, “healers of the body there are many, but there are very few healers of the soul, and I want to try my hand at that.”
edJEWcon exists to support schools in navigating the transformational impact of the technological, information age on teaching and learning. Coaches provide resources and support to Jewish educational leaders and organizations seeking sustainable, systemic change. We employ blogfolios (blogs + digital portfolios) to create a reflective culture in all areas of curriculum. Blogfolios provide the concentric hub of awareness and exposure to the skills and literacies necessary to communicate, collaborate and share in a connected world.
What’s the big idea?
Who owns the learning in a school?
The Mystics of Mile End
by Sigal Samuel
Leaving a meeting wondering what was accomplished. Staring at the screen trying to decide where to begin. Ticking the easy items off the “to do” list because the big picture feels overwhelming to tackle. Pushing through a predictable routine of meetings and putting out fires. Educational leadership can easily get consumed by tasks that make us feel stuck.
How do we get unstuck?
I enjoy TED Talks. I find them both inspiring and enjoyable. I was listening to a TED Talks video with my children recently, featuring Benjamin Zander, who is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Zander shared that his goal for the talk was that “every single person in this room (1,600 attendees strong) will come to love and understand classical music.” Mr. Zander’s talk was exactly as expected: inspiring, pleasurable and funny. Some time has passed now since Mr.
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