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MIFGASHIM  December 2001

MIFGASHIM December 2001

Subject:

MIFGASHIM

From:

Solly Kaplinski <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

MIFGASHIM LIST <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 9 Dec 2001 22:37:46 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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text/plain (265 lines)

MIFGASHIM

December 9 2001
24 Kislev 5762


MIFGASHIM, an interactive mailing list, is offered as a service by Bar Ilan
University’s Lookstein Centre. It seeks to create a community of learners,
which is respectful towards the multiplicity of voices in the field of
Jewish Education and at the same time, is prepared to engage these
differences and be open to personal growth and development.

The Lookstein Centre is trying to widen its parameters and the debate by
appealing to more voices on the denominational spectrum. MIFGASHIM
therefore is naturally a forum for substantive dialogue among the broadest
range of Jewish educators.


CONTENTS:

1. Introduction

2. Response to Zvi Civins’s article - Coping with Israel’s existential
crisis: A case study for a Jewish High School
The debate continues

Ron Weiser: President, Zionist Federation of Australia

3. Towards personal and professional fulfilment
Learning to become a Jewish Educator in and for a pluralistic environment

Tamar Rabinowitz: Post Graduate Student, Pardes/Melton Centre-Hebrew
University

4. Conclusion


Introduction:

It is the first night of Chanukah. We have kindled the first candle and we
stand in awe of the “miracles, the wonders…” and express thanks for our
salvation.

This Chanukah especially we hope and pray for a “festival of lights" that
will shine brightly and show us a path out of the darkness.

I came across the words of Rainer Maria Rilke recently that strike a cord

“We are all falling
This hand’s falling too
All have this falling sickness none withstands
And yet there’s always One whose gentle hands
This universal falling can’t fall through”

May we experience Chanukah in our time.

Here’s wishing you all Hag Chanukah Sameach!

Solly Kaplinski
MIFGASHIM Moderator
Lookstein Centre
Bar Ilan University

           --------------------------------------------


2. Coping with Israel’s existential crisis: A case study for a Jewish High
School:
The debate continues

Zvi Civins’s article can be found at:

http://listserv.biu.ac.il/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0111&L=mifgashim&F=&S=&P=127

Jeff Cohen's response to the above can be found at:

http://listserv.biu.ac.il/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0112&L=mifgashim&F=&S=&P=46


Response: Ron Weiser, President, Zionist Federation of Australia


I am wondering just how to react to Jeff Cohen's comments on Zvi's Bialik
piece.

I recognise the difficulty in trying to achieve a balance between
unquestioning support for all actions by the Government of Israel and
something else, but it is that something else that worries me.

" to find a better future for Israel, one that is morally acceptable"

That is precisely the point, that our kids in Day Schools and elsewhere
seem to be getting the message that somehow what Israel is doing is
immoral - and where are they getting this idea from?

I find this disturbing and undermining of the general proposition that our
education should be aimed at a positive connection to and support of Israel.

I have no idea what sort of Palestinian position was put. I have no problem
with the putting of the Palestinian view - as long as it is the Palestinian
view that is put and not some western wishful thinking spin on the
Palestinian view. There are many articulate Palestinians but here in
Australia we have invariably found that when these views are reinterpreted
by some Jewish academics or hopeful well meaning Jews, the Palestinians
themselves are quick to correct them.

However I would hope and expect that whilst the putting of the Palestinian
view is important, it is of far greater importance and urgency to put the
Israeli viewpoint first.

We need as a priority to educate our children about our viewpoint so that
they know it, understand it, can be proud of it and can then face the
outside challenges better equipped and more confident - indeed whilst they
may question one action or another - we should be able to educate our
children that Israel is acting morally and that the concept of the Jewish
State is a moral one.

"But some of us question whether the present policies will achieve
that end in a morally defensible way."

Here it is again - I am sorry - if we can't educate our children in our Day
Schools to be proud of Israel and to be proud of her basic moral position
and actions then we are lost.

After all, if Israel is not behaving in a morally defensible manner then it
seems to me that it must be acting immorally - and rightly, if that were
so, who would want to associate with her then?

If even the educators' do not believe that Israel is behaving in a morally
defensible way, then what hope can there be that the children in their care
will have a positive view of Israel?


         -----------------------------------------------------



3. Towards personal and professional fulfilment
Learning to become a Jewish Educator in and for a pluralistic environment

Tamar Rabinowitz: Post Graduate Student, Joint Program – Pardes/Melton
Centre, Hebrew University


While Judaism has formed my existence in multiple ways, it was only when I
volunteered to serve for one year in the Jewish community of Wellington,
New Zealand that I discovered my personal interest could be publicly
directed. While there, I finally realised where I wanted to invest my
energies, concerns and thoughts. My experiences in Wellington released in
me a passion for teaching.

However, as a Jewish educator for the elementary school and having to
provide an informal educational framework for adults and teens, I found
myself in uncharted professional territory. I was constantly aware of my
lack of experience and skills and I struggled to guide my students in
seeking appropriate texts. This played a large role in my determination to
acquire the skills and knowledge to be able to educate in the most
effective way.

I am currently enrolled in the Pardes Educators Programme: two years
intensive Torah study at Pardes, combined with a Masters degree in Jewish
Education from the Rothberg School and the Melton Centre for Jewish
Education at Hebrew U. The programme offers the possibility of learning
theories and philosophies of education, combined with studying texts that
assist in transforming these notions from the theoretical and philosophical
to the more practical realm of Jewish consciousness raising. The programme
launched last year with 15 students offers a solution to the critical need
for knowledgeable teachers in pluralistic community Jewish day schools in
North America.

I am learning in an environment that offers innovative responses to the
needs and challenges of the Jewish community today - a direct confrontation
of studying and teaching Jewish texts and ideas in a spiritual and
intellectually intense yet open environment. My fellow students who
represent a variety of ideologies and beliefs, come together to engage in
texts, each in his/her own way. This ethos nurtures a love and respect for
traditional values while not asking us to reject our own personal ethics
and beliefs.

Pardes' s Beit Midrash provides a safe environment to tackle and struggle
with Jewish texts and challenges our previously held conceptions of what is
authentic. I have also for the past two years participated in two pedagogy
classes: teaching of Torah to students and teaching Rabbinics. In these
classes, our time in the Beit Midrash and the knowledge and skills gained
there are transformed into the practical realm of teaching.

The courses offered at Hebrew U range from the Sociology of American Jews,
The Bible and the Child, to Pluralism and Memory and History. These classes
provide us with the ability to intellectually engage in discussion and
reflection concerning our own understandings of educational philosophy and
how to implement a curriculum based on these theories. The courses ensure
that we are aware of the hermeneutics that we teach, those that stem from
our preconceptions of teaching and those that we are now equipped to
choose.

All of this reaches its full articulation when we spend a month supervised
teaching internship (one in each year) at a Jewish day school in America.
Last year, I observed and taught at the New Jewish High School of Boston, a
successful pluralistic community day school. I was exposed to numerous
methods and philosophies of teaching, as well as the problems that face
educators teaching in a trans-denominational setting.

As a student-teacher in such a school, I encountered students from
different denominations, with different belief systems and who had
encountered different hermeneutic approaches. The courses I had taken and
the guidance from my mentor helped me realise that I needed to incorporate
different understandings of the text so that all students could gain fresh
and meaningful insights without feeling that their belief systems had been
attacked. During that month I was able to incorporate what I had learnt in
the Beit Midrash and the lecture halls and bring it into the classroom.

My experiences in the programme have helped me formulate my own educational
philosophy and to shape my identity as well as furnish me with a rich
background of Jewish textual knowledge and skills. My teachers in both
institutions have been challenging and dynamic, pushing me to develop as a
student, educator and human being.

           ------------------------------------------

4. Conclusion:


When Rabbi Israel Salanter began his speeches, he would often tell his
audience

“If only one person in the room is convinced of the truth of my words, if
only one person has a change of heart because of my message, I will have
achieved a great deal…even if that one person is me.”

What Rabbi Salanter was teaching himself (and us) is that a teacher often
needs to pay attention to his or her own message. In modern parlance, the
thought is echoed by the quote:

One who teaches learns twice

Source:

Eli Rubenstein: Spiritual Leader, Congregation Habonim, Toronto
National Director, March of the Living


               ---------------------------------

__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________

The Mifgashim List is a project of
The Rabbi Joseph H. Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora
The School of Education, Bar Ilan University

To leave the list, respond to this message with the word "remove" in the
subject line.
To post a message, please write us at: [log in to unmask]

You can search the archives at
http://listserv.biu.ac.il/archives/mifgashim.html

Check out online educational materials and information on other
Lookstein Center programs on our website at http://www.lookstein.org/.

The website is supported, in part, by a generous grant from the
AviChai Foundation.

Further information may be obtained by writing to: [log in to unmask]

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