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MIFGASHIM  January 2009

MIFGASHIM January 2009

Subject:

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 34

From:

Lee Buckman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Mon, 5 Jan 2009 16:49:01 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (412 lines)

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 34


Contents:


1.	Operation Cast Lead in Israel

a.  	Prayers for Israel from the Masorti and Orthodox movements
b.  	Video link for classroom use on missile attacks on Sderot
c.	“Operation Cast Lead or Secrecy and Surprise” (Mirvis)


2.	Lookstein Podcast


3.	Responses:  Ben Gamla Hebrew Language Charter Schools (Lorch, Botwinick, 
Rodman, Feller)


4.	Marshall Memo:  What Fosters Creativity in a Leadership Team?



~~~~~~~~~


1.	Operation Cast Lead in Israel

a.	Prayers for Israeli soldiers and civilians from the Masorti and Orthodox movements

http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3648685,00.html


~~~~~~~~~


b.  	Video link for classroom use on missile attacks on Sderot

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im4KE3nkGA0


~~~~~~~~~


c.	“Operation Cast Lead or Secrecy and Surprise” (Mirvis)

Israel Update
4 January 2009 
Operation Cast Lead or Secrecy and Surprise?

This war that Israel is waging in Gaza is the third that Israel has waged in the past six 
years. In 2002 following the bombing of the Park Hotel in Netanya, the IDF launched an 
operation in Samaria. In 2006, following Hezbollah's kidnapping of Israeli soldiers on 
patrol, Israel launched an offensive to secure peace for those living in the north and now, 
following the constant rocket attacks of Hamas on the Western Negev, Israel has 
retaliated with an attack on Gaza. Israel thus finds itself at war for the third time in six 
years and its ability to function as a "normal" country in a highly abnormal situation is a 
phenomenon that will be admired and studied for many years to come.
 
Once again we have found the inner strength to overcome our internal differences and 
face the Hamas as "one person and with one heart".  Once again, in an era of 
materialism and individualism, thousands of young men have reported for duty fully 
understanding the dangers of war. Once again thousands of volunteers have streamed to 
the front lines eager to support the needs of the local populations under fire.
 
 
The Secrecy of this Operation  
 
Today we are at the beginning of the ground assault and thus it is far too early to reflect 
upon the current war however there is a unique aspect that has singled out this 
campaign. This is the cloak of secrecy and surprise that has enveloped this entire military 
operation.
 
The air attack that the IDF launched over a week ago set the scene for what has followed. 
Despite Hamas expecting an Israeli offensive, it was led to believe that Israel would only 
attack following Israel's weekly Cabinet meeting scheduled for last Sunday.  A group of 
soldiers stationed on the Gaza border were released for a Shabbat vacation and thus the 
attack came as a complete surprise.
 
Israel has continued to keep it cards very close to its chest ever since. In an age in which 
instant communication is part of our post modern culture and in a country in which we 
are all family and privy to all secrets this is almost impossible, yet Israel has succeeded. 
Thus nobody outside of the decision makers knew when the ground assault would 
commence and in real terms nobody other than the soldiers in the field, the High 
Command and the Cabinet knows what is happening on the ground.
 
It seems that the reason for this high level of secrecy is the nature of this operation and 
its strategic goal, which is to weaken the morale of Hamas and its followers.  In a region 
in which almost every home is a potential Hamas stronghold, Israel is doing all it can to 
create a rift between the people and the leadership generating a sense of total turmoil. 

This is being achieved by the following:

   1. Isolating the leadership from the people. Frightened that they may be assassinated, 
the Hamas leaders are all in bunkers underground and thus their ability to connect with 
the field is limited.
   2. Striking of communication centers. The Israeli Air Force has launched numerous 
raids on Hamas communication facilities making it very difficult for the leadership to 
communicate with the field.
   3. Constant airstrikes. In the event that civilians are endangered by the strikes they are 
telephoned in advance and asked to vacate the area. While these calls are humane 
gestures they sow panic as they reflect that Israel has direct access to every phone.  
   4. Cutting off the Electrical Supply. Last night Israel caused an electrical blackout 
adding to this turmoil.

Thus given the secrecy of the operation perhaps it should be called Operation Secrecy and 
Surprise rather than Operation Cast Lead.
                       
How has this Secrecy been Achieved?
 
All soldiers' cell phones have been taken away. Every soldier who is on the Gaza front 
line has been asked to give in his phone. Thus there is a total communication blackout 
from Israel's side.

   1. No media is being allowed into the Gaza Strip. Thus, as opposed to the previous war 
in which "every" Israeli move was broadcast live, in this war there is a news blackout. 
Even the Israeli media which usually has a first-hand account finds itself unable to report 
from the field. It must be noted as well that there are probably no foreign journalists in 
Gaza. Since the Hamas takeover of Gaza foreign journalists have fled the area in fear of 
their personal safety.
   2. There is a maximum use of intelligence. Israel has a wide range of Palestinian 
"shtinkers" (i.e. informants), who have enabled the IDF to receive inside knowledge of 
Hamas's movements.
   3. The Israeli cabinet has ensured that its meetings are not leaked. On Friday in the 
crucial meeting that approved the land assault Eli Yishai, an Orthodox cabinet minister, 
was asked to leave the meeting early to ensure that his presence would not be missed in 
synagogue that evening!


The Price of this Secrecy
 
While the secrecy of this operation has succeeded in creating "fear and terror" among the 
local Gaza population as reported by Al Jezeera, it is taking its toll in Israel as well. There 
is probably not a mother or wife of the thousands of troops who entered Gaza who slept 
last night in fear for the safety of their loved one. Every news report is scanned for hint 
of casualties and we all know that the casualty list reported is not complete, but only 
reflects those whose families have been informed.
  
In our never-ending war it is our determination and morale that will ensure our survival.  
This morale and determination is as solid as cast lead and as such, on second thoughts, 
Operation Cast Lead was the correct choice!


Dr Jonathan Mirvis
International Director of the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School
[log in to unmask]

~~~~~~~~~


2.	Lookstein Podcast

Classroom Teaching is back after a short Chanukah break! This week Mark Smilowitz 
discusses higher level thinking skills. For students to be fully engaged in learning, they 
need to be challenged with tasks that go beyond remembering and explaining. This 
episode reviews the six thinking skills of Benjamin Bloom's Taxonomy and suggests ways 
of using them in the Judaic studies classroom in order to nurture higher level thinking. 

Visit www.lookstein.org/podcasts/ to listen or subscribe.


~~~~~~~~~


3.	Responses:  Ben Gamla Hebrew Language Charter Schools (Lorch, Botwinick, 
Rodman, Feller)

In today's challenging climate, it would be foolhardy to underestimate the potential effect 
on Jewish day schools of any emerging challenge, including Hebrew language charter 
schools. The underlying strength and stability of many day schools has already been 
compromised, and it is not inconceivable that the emergence of Hebrew language charter 
schools will further challenge the viability of at least some day schools.

Some schools appear better equipped to differentiate themselves from charter schools 
than others. The following characteristics seem likely to improve the competitive 
advantage of day schools:

1. A clear and compelling mission reflected in school culture and practices - One key 
advantage that private-independent Jewish day schools have over public charter schools 
is the freedom of the school leadership to determine the school's character and 
unapologetically translate it into reality. Charter schools are constrained by law and by 
public opinion in ways that independent schools are not. Therefore, day schools that have 
a clear identity and direction are well equipped to meet and minimize the challenge posed 
by charter schools.

2. An independent school ethos - Some Jewish day schools classify themselves as Jewish 
public schools, while others consider themselves Jewish private schools. This self-image 
has extremely broad implications, extending to pricing policy, academic program, 
extracurricular program, staffing, professional development, facilities, and the like. 
Schools that think and act and feel like Jewish public schools may struggle to compete 
with the free tuition of the real Jewish public schools, namely the charter schools; on the 
other hand, those that think of themselves, package themselves, and market themselves 
as private-independent schools that provide transformative experiences unavailable to 
children and families in public schools are more likely to succeed in differentiating 
themselves and attracting and retaining students.

3. Underlying stability - Over the years, some schools have built up their strength in 
resources, governance, and marketing, and these will enable them to respond decisively 
and nimbly to the charter school challenge. Stability-related assets include such elements 
as fund reserve and endowment, hard-income coverage, quality of facilities, board 
composition and leadership, and enrollment demand. Schools that possess these assets 
will be able to apply them to program enhancements, staffing enhancements, marketing 
strategies, and tuition reduction - new strategies for appealing to families that might 
otherwise be attracted to charter schools,

4. Cultural vs. religious identification - As others have pointed out, the more a family is 
invested in Jewish learning and living as key components of their children's education, the 
less satisfactory an alternative a Hebrew language charter school will seem to them. 
Jewish day schools to which such families are attracted in large numbers will likely find it 
easier to retain their students than will schools populated by families seeking primarily a 
cultural, ethnic, or Zionist connection for their children.

5. Other demographic characteristics - Hebrew language charter schools have already 
experienced some success in attracting students from demographic groups not 
represented in most Jewish day schools in large numbers (e.g., children of Israelis in the 
Florida school), and they are positioning themselves to capture other such students in the 
future (e.g., children of Russians in the neighborhood in which the New York school has 
announced it will be located). This may prove to be an opportunity for some Jewish day 
schools to increase their enrollment, if they can market themselves as an educationally 
superior alternative to charter schools at a cost families can afford, and in so doing 
capitalize on the increased interest in Hebrew and Jewish culture that the charter schools 
are attracting.


Dr. Steve Lorch
Head of School
Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan
[log in to unmask]


~~~~~~~~~


First, I think its absolutely essential that the Jewish day school community not over-react 
to what may or may not be the beginning of a new  phenomenon impacting Jewish day 
school education -- irrespective of recent pronouncements. To be sure, the jury is still 
out............
 
The following are several points which  may stimulate  discussion, debate and reflection:
 

•	The Ben Gamla Charter School concept is not a church-state issue; but rather one 
which relates to  public policy;

•	The majority of parents who send their children to these schools, would not have 
opted for a Jewish Day School Education from the get-go.  They are essentially public 
school parents - many of whom are Israeli and are extremely comfortable limiting their 
children's Judaic studies exposure to Hebrew language and culture.

•	One needs to question the quality of faculty and the quality of education as a whole, 
given the low level per pupil allocations. In other words, how will these schools be able to 
attract the best and the brightest teachers, if salaries are marginal at best?

•	Many parents who recently left Jewish Day Schools to send their children to these 
schools are now reconsidering opting-out - due to quality issues and well as 
"socialization" challenges.

•	Yes, affordability is probably the major factor, but we also know that quality is 
paramount.

•	This phenomenon needs to motivate communities to begin thinking more 
strategically and boldly about day school affordability;
•	The real challenge for our day school community is to begin thinking about forging 
new strategic partnerships with charter schools in an effort to provide these schools with 
high quality "after-school" Judaic enrichment/identity programs and activities.

•	In all due respect to select funders and "visionaries", the Birthright program is 
based upon choices being made by "mature" college students - why should a college 
student spend $2,000 on college break for a fun-in-the-sun holiday in Cancun, when you 
can accomplish the "same objectives" on a free trip to Israel ?  In addition, parents are 
the decision-makers for Charter Schools, not students. Ten-day trips and 12 years of 
schooling can never be comparable. So comparing the two models is based on a false 
premise from the start.

•	If Jewish Day Schools begin tinkering with their schedules in order to receive 
Charter School status, it could result in a very slippery mountain -- irrespective of how 
"creative" they become. These schools will need to be extremely careful and vigilant to 
ensure that a true separation of church and state is in place and is safeguarded. I am not 
100% confident that our day schools have that capacity.


Dr. Chaim Y. Botwinick
President/CEO
Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE)
4200 Biscayne Boulevard
Miami, FL  33137
Phone:  305-576-4030, Ext. 126
Fax:       305-571-1893
[log in to unmask]
www.caje-miami.org


~~~~~~~~~


Bicultural, bilingual charter schools could put religious education back into the hands of 
synagogues. It doesn't seem like an easy sell -- religious school for day school students?! 
-- but what an opportunity!

Think of it: a population of children who speak Hebrew and have a certain Jewish cultural 
literacy, but for whom the realm of religious practices and ideas isn't covered in schools. 
Sound familiar? It's what Israeli non-Orthodox synagogues have faced since their 
inception a few decades ago.

The solutions that Masorti and Progressive synagogues in Israel have offered don't look 
like school at all. Instead, their youth movements offer synagogue-based after school 
programs one day a week, led by high school students under the direction of a young 
(post-army) adult "alumnus" of the movement. Their activities are fun, but they also 
tackle religious issues, and they primarily teach by doing. 

Those Israeli youth movements' summer camp programs are the keystone of their efforts 
-- or maybe a better image is: their engine. Heads up, American Jewish summer camps -
- and especially Ramah and the URJ camps and the Reconstructionist camp! A new kind of 
camper may be headed your way: Jewishly knowledgeable but without religious 
instruction.

Another place to look for a model is Minneapolis and Saint Paul. In those (oddly 
estranged) "twin cities," supplementary schools are still community institutions, and 
synagogues run programs on Shabbat morning, parallel to the adult services, that provide 
religious education and skills training that the Talmud Torah does not.

Hebrew charter schools present a new challenge for Jewish educators, but opportunities 
as well.


Rabbi Peretz Rodman
[log in to unmask]


~~~~~~~~~


We must never lose sight of what a Jewish Day School is.   A Hebrew Language Charter 
school teaches Hebrew language without Judaism--no Torah, study of text, study and 
practice of Jewish values, tefilah, spirituality.  It does not replace the Jewish day school.  
Our schools practice religion proudly.  We have an obligation to the future of Judaism.  
We produce the Jewish leaders of tomorrow.  Our missions and visions are the 
statements of what we stand for and what we strive to be.
 
If we are true to our missions, parents will chose our schools, because they want the 
education we are providing, both in general and Judaic studies.
 
If they want Hebrew language without the Jewish component, then they do not want our 
schools.  They would not be the families whom we would or should want to attract. Those 
schools that have lost families, in my opinion, lost the families for whom Judaism is not 
important.  Those who remain are those who want what we offer, a community infused 
with Jewish living, learning and values. 
 
We should not be afraid, but stand strong and proud of what we believe. We should never 
compromise who we are. Nothing can replace the Jewish Day School.

Karen Feller
Head of School
Donna Klein Jewish Academy
[log in to unmask]


~~~~~~~~~


4.	Marshall Memo:  What Fosters Creativity in a Leadership Team?

In this Harvard Business Review article, senior editor Steven Prokesch reports on General 
Electric’s assessment of how successful its leadership team was at creating a climate that 
supported creativity. 

Here were the characteristics they measured:
-	Challenge/involvement – Team members feel connected and stretched by their 
work and take pride in it.
-	Freedom – Team members feel empowered to try new approaches to their work.
-	Trust/openness – Team members feel safe sharing ideas and working with one 
another.
-	Idea time – Team members have time to think about and develop new ideas.
-	Playfulness/humor – Team members see their workplace as easygoing, fun, and 
relaxed.
-	Idea support – Team members encourage one another’s ideas.
-	Debate – Team members constructively discuss and challenge each another’s ideas 
and approaches.
-	Risk-taking – Team members can make decisions and take action in the face of 
uncertainty.
-	Conflict – Team members experience relatively little personal tension and 
interpersonal warfare at work.

“How GE Teaches Teams to Lead Change” by Steven Prokesch in the Harvard Business 
Review, January 2009 (Vol. 87, #1, p. 98-106), no e-link; the author can be reached at 
[log in to unmask] 

__________________________________________________________________________
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