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MIFGASHIM

December 5 2004

23 Kislev 5765

Volume 4:11

Moderator: Solly Kaplinski

The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education

Bar Ilan University

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CONTENTS

1.Resource of the Week

Esther Feldman: Director, Information & Technology Services

The Lookstein Center [log in to unmask]

2. Focus on Current Events and Parashat Hashavuah

Rabbi Zvi Grumet: Educational Team, The Lookstein Center

3. New Resources for Chanukah

Chana German: The Lookstein Center

4. Why I send my child to a public school

Responses continued (See MIFGASHIM November 29 2004)

Leah Perl Shollar

5. Israel in the classroom - a deathly silence?

Responses continued - see MIFGASHIM November 29 2004

5.1 Leah Perl Shollar

5.2 Malky Tannenbaum
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

6. Channeling Web Resources for Effective Limudei Kodesh Instruction

Presented by Rabbi Naphtali Hoff, JWIT Participant, 2003

7. The curse no more: And what it means for Jewish Education

A response to Yisrael Feuerman (See MIFGASHIM November 29 2004)

David Stern

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1. Resource of the Week

Esther Feldman: Director, Information & Technology Services

Lookstein Center

Not satisfied with the software controls?

There are other ways to protect your children/students on the Internet and that's simply to keep their surfing limited to safe portals. Though this can be very limiting for the older child, and can hinder serious research, it may be a viable option for the pre-school and elementary school student, especially during their first online experiences and when their research is usually supervised by tutors or teachers.

Some very good and safe portals include the following:

AmiWeb - a free portal for ages 4 - 11. It includes activities and games

and,

Ask Jeeves for Kids - a safe searching environment for kids' queries.

and...

to see the rest of the article and more links, please visit Resource of the Week on the website -

Go to Lookstein.org and click on resource of the week in the Quick Links drop-down box, or go directly to

www.lookstein.org/resource_week.htm and click on November 2004.

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2. Focus on Current Events and Parashat Hashavuah

Rabbi Zvi Grumet: Educational Team, The Lookstein Center

Each week the Lookstein Center offers educators discussion points to focus on in the classroom for the weekly Torah portion.

Focus On Parashat HaShavuah (Miketz)

Is it ever too late to make amends for a past wrongdoing?

"And they said one to another: 'We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.' " (Bereshit 42: 21)

To view, go to http://www.lookstein.org/focus_torah.htm


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3. New Resources for Chanukah

Chana German: The Lookstein Center

In these online scavenger hunts, students learn about the Chanukah story and customs. Students search a list of prepared websites to answer a number of questions about Chanukah. You will need to print the "hunt" and make sure your students have Internet access.

To view them, go to


http://www.lookstein.org/lessonplans/chanukah_hunt.pdf (grades 3 and 4)

and

http://www.lookstein.org/lessonplans/chanukah_7_8.pdf (grades 7 & 8)

Chag urim sameach!

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4. Why I send my child to a public school

Responses continued (See MIFGASHIM November 29 2004)

Leah Perl Shollar

I agree wholeheartedly that Jewish education MUST be THE priority! At the same time, I think we need to find a way to offer those ''sauces' that enhance education. Firstly, not all students have the same kishronos in the same areas -- if a student is particularly musical or artistic, but not a Gemara kop and we don't offer an outlet for developing that, we run the risk of having a mediocre student (or failing) who feels that his or her interactions with learning are a bust, and that clearly learning (and by extension) Torah is not for him.

Secondly, it has been shown that offering music or art enhance student learning in other areas, including strictly academic ones.

Finally, I think we should emphasize for our parent body that learning Gemara or parshanut develops critical thinking skills and higher level reasoning. I'm sure everyone on the list is familiar with the study of geometry skills in Israel; boys who study Gemara more outperformed other kids their age who don't. Of course this also shows that the same type of mind that can break apart a difficult sugya will do the same with a tricky theorem. We need to reach these kids as well.

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5. Israel in the classroom - a deathly silence?

Responses continued - see MIFGASHIM November 29 2004

5.1 Leah Perl Shollar

I must confess that I find Chaim Feder's vignette sadly ironic. You are saying that it was a lesson that taught you the core of Jewish identity, but then you say you don't keep mitzvot anymore. So in a sense, the lesson flopped. In light of the famous quote 'ain lanu uma ela baTorah' this is particularly poignant.

I think that more than a feeling about Israel (which we need), we must provide our students with some concrete facts about the history of the land and the conflict, so that when someone decries what the mighty Israeli army is doing to the poor Palestinians, they are prepared not only to answer that person, but ALSO any doubts which might arise in their own minds.

I teach at a religious school where many parents are proudly Zionist, but the kids read newspapers and it is hard for them to sift the propaganda from the truth.

One exercise which I have considered, is showing footage of Nazi rallies alternated with photos of Islamic Jihad -- compare a Hitlerjugend enthusiastically shouting Heil next to a 3 year old Arab boy wearing a mock suicide belt. The more you explore the similarities, the more the truth emerges. I wish someone would make a single movie that does this... That reaches students more than any thing we can say.

One last idea: I teach 11th and 12th grades Chumash and Jewish History. Before each lesson, we recite one chapter of Tehillim, followed by a list of those who need refua, and dedicate the learning of each day as a zechut for the memory of three people who died in terrorist attacks. I read a small biography of each person (you can get them from All 4 Israel, et.al.) and pass a kupat tzedaka that goes to an organization that helps families who've lost people in piguim.

This connects them to the land and the people on a daily basis. Most of them go to Israel for seminary the year following graduation, so this is something real and concrete to them. It is often hard to read these dedications, but it is really one of the only things we can do about the situation. Once a week a student reports on current events in the Jewish world, and another student introduces the new chapter of Tehillim for the week.

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5.2 Malky Tannenbaum
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations



Apropos the ongoing Mifgash regarding the teaching of Israel in the classroom, I would like to bring a new weekly email newsletter for high-school students, the Israel HighWay, to readers' attention:


The Israel HighWay includes in-depth examinations of a specific "issue of the week" that provides context to the headlines about Israel, articles by and about high school students, including opinion articles, and descriptions of Israel-related school projects. It also includes sections relating to Israeli and Jewish music, arts, sports and technology, as well as links to relevant primary sources, key sites and publications.

It was created for Jewish / American high school students to educate them about Israel and prepare them for Israel-related encounters on college campuses, but is ideal for the English-speaking teen community in Israel as well. It is published by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, prepared by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and funded by a grant from The AVI CHAI Foundation.

You can read it online and subscribe free of charge at www.israelhighway.org.
Subscribe directly at

http://www.magnetmail.net/actions/jerusalemC_subscription_form.cfm.

The weekly email can be customized with local school, classroom or organizational announcements. Some schools opt to send it out themselves, while others encourage their students to subscribe directly.

A separate educators' site is under development that will offer supplemental materials and educational resources related to the "issue of the week" in advance of publication. An Israel HighWay discussion guide will help parents and teachers engage students in meaningful discussion.


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6. Channeling Web Resources for Effective Limudei Kodesh Instruction

Presented by Rabbi Naphtali Hoff, JWIT Participant, 2003

This two-session presentation will provide educators with tested strategies and resources to help better integrate web resources into the Judaic Studies classroom. Teachers will learn the key elements necessary to create Webquests and other Internet based educational lessons.

The series will take place online on December 14 and 20,
between 9 - 9:45 am EST.

To participate, users will need a computer, Internet connection and speakers. A microphone is necessary if you would like to participate via audio. Otherwise participants can use the instant chat component.

Participation is $75 per school or $60 per member school. Payment can be made by credit card or check.

Registration closes December 7.

To register and to receive instructions about how to participate, fill out our online registration form here.

For more information about the series or Internet conferencing in general, write to


[log in to unmask]

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7. The curse no more

And what it means for Jewish Education

A response to Yisrael Feuerman

(See MIFGASHIM November 29 2004)

David Stern

Thanks Yisrael for your excellent analysis on how we sometimes become our own worst enemy. Having a sunny disposition, being optimistic and ultimately believing in oneself and one's mission and mandate should be excellent spurs to one's motivation - both personal and professional.

One of the biggest single obstacles I have found in my work in Jewish education is the negativity I have encountered from some teachers and parents which unfortunately has a spill over effect into all aspects of school life and school culture.

We need to constantly think of new, exciting and creative ways to make them see the glass as half full instead of half empty.

Your encouraging article has certainly helped. Thanks!

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