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MIFGASHIM  October 2002

MIFGASHIM October 2002

Subject:

MIFGASHIM

From:

Solly Kaplinski <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

MIFGASHIM LIST <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 28 Oct 2002 00:27:48 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (297 lines)

MIFGASHIM

October 27 2002
22 Cheshvan 5763
Volume 2:8
Moderator: Solly Kaplinski
The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education
Bar Ilan University

CONTENTS

1. Focus on .and Resource of the Week
Esther Feldman: Director, Information and Technology Services
The Lookstein Center

2. Teaching Judaism over the last 60 years: A comparative analysis.
A response to Nadine Stark (see MIFGASHIM October 20 2003)
Rabbi Zvi Grumet: Lookstein Center for Jewish Education

3. Can we, and should we, try to transform the foundations of Jewish
identity so that it revolves around the joy and richness of Jewish life,
rather than the tragedies of Jewish history?
A response to Sylvia F. Abrams  (see MIFGASHIM October 7, 14 and 20, 2002)
Rabbi Zvi Grumet: Lookstein Center for Jewish Education

4. November 5 2003: How does one deal with the legacy of Yitzchak Rabin in
the school and in the classroom?
Two responses to Max Glass (see MIFGASHIM October 20 2002)
4.1 Channa Pinchassi: Jewish Agency Department for Jewish Zionist Education
Shlicha, BJE, Toronto
4.2  David Greenstein
New Hyde Park Jewish Community Center, NY

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


CONTENTS

1.1 Focus on .and Resource of the Week
Esther Feldman: Director, Information and Technology Services
The Lookstein Center

Each week the Lookstein Center offers educators discussion points to focus
on in the classroom for both the weekly Torah portion and current events in
Israel

Focus On Parashat HaShavuah raises questions about our demands of God:

"Behold I stand here by the well of water...and let it come to pass, that
the girl to who I shall say, let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may
drink also, let her be she that thou hast appointed for the servant
Yitzchak..."(Bereishit 23:13-15).

To see more, go to

http://www.lookstein.org/edu_focus_on.htm

and click on Hayyei Sarah


"Focus on... Current Events" discusses racial profiling in identifying
potential terrorists.

To see more, go to

http://www.lookstein.org/edu_focus_on.htm

and click on October 29

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

1.2 Resource of the Week


By the time the average person reaches the age of 75 they will have spent 9
years watching television, which includes 2 years watching advertisements.
Children can and should be taught to think critically about the media. This
week's resource of the week: JUST THINK offers lesson plans in media
literacy lessons.

To see this week's resource go to:

http://www.lookstein.org/resource_week/october2002.htm

or to

http://www.lookstein.org/resource_week.htm and click on October 2002

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


2. Teaching Judaism over the last 60 years: A comparative analysis.
A response to Nadine Stark (see MIFGASHIM October 20 2003)
Rabbi Zvi Grumet: Lookstein Center for Jewish Education

A number of years ago a book was published called "What We Know About Jewish
Education". The link below will tell you more about it

http://www.torahaura.com/Teacher___Educator/What_We_Know_About_Jewish_Educ/w
hat_we_know_about_jewish_educ.html

Your topic comparing the way in which Judaism has been taught over the past
60 years is very broad and it seems that you can take a number of
approaches, one of which might be to see what types of schools existed then
and now.

Alvin Schiff did a number of studies on Jewish schooling in the US
over the years. You may want to check back issues of the journal Jewish
Education where some of those were published. Also, Chaim Waxman, in a book
called "American Jews in Transition" has a section on the history of Jewish
Education in the US.

Some of the trends in the US may be reflected in other Jewish communities,
including who are the Jewish educators, what kind of training did they
have, what different types of Jewish schools are there, and who attends
those schools.

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

3. Can we, and should we, try to transform the foundations of Jewish
identity so that it revolves around the joy and richness of Jewish life,
rather than the tragedies of Jewish history?
A response to Sylvia F. Abrams  (see MIFGASHIM October 7,14 and 20, 2002)
Rabbi Zvi Grumet: Lookstein Center for Jewish Education


I thank Silvia Abrams for enlightening me on the events in Cleveland, and am
indeed delighted to hear about them. I completely agree with her assertion
that "we have not yet found an authentic Jewish voice for the commemoration
of either Yom Hashoa or Yom Haatzmaut in North America." There are a few
items about which I believe she misunderstood my comments, and I appreciate
her pointing them out, enabling me to clarify.

1. "Grumet also is critical of the public forms of our celebrations." In
response she provided one example from Cleveland. That's very nice, but the
example is a lonely one. Just to clarify - my goal is not to be "critical of
the public forms our celebrations," but to begin a dialogue of what those
celebrations should look like. Are there elements of a celebration which
make it a uniquely Jewish experience? Are there elements we include in
celebrations which detract from its Jewish character? What elements of a
celebration transform it into a religious/spiritual experience, and is it
indeed necessary for every celebration to have a religious/spiritual
component?

2. "Granted that not all such communal experiments draw large crowds, but
does that mean we should throw up our hands?" The fact that these
experiments do not draw large crowds speaks for itself. And by no means did
I ever suggest that we should be "throwing up our hands." Quite the
contrary! I raised the issue as a call to reflection and action, not as a
call to despair.

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

4. November 5 2003: How does one deal with the legacy of Yitzchak Rabin in
the school and in the classroom?
Two responses to Max Glass (see MIFGASHIM October 20 2002)

4.1 Channa Pinchassi: Channa Pinchassi: Jewish Agency Department for Jewish
Zionist Education , Shelicha, BJE Toronto

The issue of how to approach and deal with Memorial Day for Yitzchak. Rabin
is something that is on our mind lately. In my opinion, this is an
opportunity to demonstrate identification with Israel - where, by law it
is compulsory to devote some time/sessions in every school to study the
topic on Rabin's Memorial Day.

Here are a number of ways of thinking about this:

Yitzchak Rabin was a man of many facets; he was a Palmach fighter, a chief
of staff in the six-day war, initiator of the peace treaty with Jordan
and the Oslo agreement. One can present these various aspects through
different pictures of Rabin and ask the students to select a picture
(available on the Internet) which reflects their choice and which will be
used on Israeli currency, etc.

High school students can deliberate over why a political figure became a
national icon. Related to that, one can present as an analogy Tzom
Gedalya which also commemorates a political assassination and has evolved
into the way the Jewish people remember the destruction of the Temple.

In Israel, the Song Shir La-Shalom, is THE song identified with Rabin's
assassination. Precisely because the song's content is in dispute one can
listen to the words and raise questions which would help students get a
better understanding of the religious-cultural tensions within Israel.

The most important issue in my opinion is the vulnerability of Israeli
democracy. In Israel, often democratic resolutions are experienced as a
matter of life and/or death pertaining to individuals and the entire
nation. The role of Rabin's Memorial Day is to serve as a warning and
to remind us how important it is for us to protect our democracy without
which we endanger the entire Zionist dream.

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


4.2  David Greenstein
New Hyde Park Jewish Community Center, NY

This is an incredibly painful and difficult issue. It is painful
because of the tragedy of death and suffering we have experienced and
still experience. It is difficult because there is no way to deal
with this without getting into questions whose discussion elicits
terrible division and rancor in the Jewish People (leaving aside the
rest of the world.)

Still, I would offer these thoughts:

1. I believe that Yitzchak Rabin deserves to be remembered with the
utmost kavod - whether or not his policies have proven right or
wrong, or will end up being proven right or wrong. When Mashiach
arrives we will be able to judge history in terms of any action's
ultimate success or failure. Until then we do our best to balance
pragmatics with our commitments to values.

2. He deserves our kavod for who he was as a person and for what he
believed in and tried to do. Yes, he was a great soldier and general
and leader in Israel, and his speech at Mt. Scopus is great, but
there have been other great leaders and speeches. But I believe his
positive legacy lies elsewhere.

3. As a person,  Rabin exemplifies the all too rare phenomenon of a human
being who changes in a fundamental way. He changed his thinking, his
commitments and the actions he pursued for the sake of bringing
peace. He did this despite great personal anguish and soul-searching
and despite the pressure of friends and enemies and the chance that
it would not be politically wise.

The much misused term 'banal teshuvah' may be truthfully applied to him.
The place that a true ba`al teshuvah holds cannot be occupied by anyone who
thinks they are themselves completely righteous. I think we should be
humbled for having had the zechut to witness this process unfold before our
very eyes. Perhaps as time passes, if this issue is brought to our
consciousness, we may succeed in finally learning from it.

4. We should honor Rabin for his vision of peace, even if its
implementation was flawed or a failure. Yesha`ayahu Leibowitz pointed
out many times that the prophets were utter failures in terms of
influencing the Jews of their own generations. Moreover, the famous
Gemara (Gittin 56b) about Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai's strategy to
salvage Yavneh from the Romans, one of the foundational stories of
our tradition, still records that generations later Rabbi  Yosef (or Rabbi
Akiva) blames Rabbi Yochanan ben  Zakkai for not knowing how to deal with
Vespasian and for 'being duped' and not understanding that he could
have saved Jerusalem.

5. Rabin's vision has two components - components that are very hard
to sustain, but that are crucial for us if we wish to be a holy
nation - that we should honor and cherish :

a) Rabin pursued peace. He didn't just wish for it, sigh for
it, pray for it. He fulfilled the difficult and life-threatening
mitzvah of running/chasing after peace

b) He understood that he had to place faith in the basic
humanity of his enemies. The fact that his enemies failed their test
to rise to the opportunity is a particularly tragic case of human
beings choosing evil and death instead of goodness and life. Israel
suffers for it and so do they. But the Torah teaches us that we are
all capable of making either choice. The very generation that stood
at Sinai failed miserably over and over.

Our Torah is the record of the Jewish People's continual failure to justify
God's faith in them. Still we keep faith in our ability to choose for the
good the next time, and we pray and hope that we will be given another
chance. We must have that faith in others as well as in ourselves.
Maintaining this emunah is horribly challenging today

6. Rabin had a low tolerance for baloney. Any program to honor him
studying sources, discussion, speeches, tefillot - should be done
honestly.

Yehi zichro baruch

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

__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________

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

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