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Topics in this year's Purim issue:

I. Queries:
     Frumkite query (Poppins)
     Fast of Easter (Horwitz)
II. Satisfying God by keeping the commandments (Newton)
III. Educational Epidemics

     a. Illiteracy Epidemic (Berger)
     b. Illicitry Epidemic (ben Salu)
     c. Alliteracy Epidemic (Mendelssohn)
IV. CHAPTER School (Shnickers)
V. Girls of Prey (Xena)
VI. What we NOW know about Jewish Education (Shoe, White)


We aren't the only ones taking advantage of Purim to introspect about
issues that our community grapples with throughout the year.
The Jewish Week's Purim articles are always interesting, although this
year few of them focus on issues of Jewish education -

Of course, not all of the material in the Purim Lookjed is presented
in jest - some of it is totally on the "up-and-up."
The trick here is to figure out what is simple fun and what is
sophisticated fun?

Mazal Tov to David and Devorah Katz on the birth of a new baby boy.
David and Devorah both teach in the Lookstein Center's "Remote
Teachers" program, but the baby was delivered in person in Jerusalem's
Hadassah Ein Karem hospital.

David and Devorah had scheduled the birth to coincide with the
upcoming Birkat ha-Hamah celebrations, but he arrived a bit early.
Suggestions for naming the newborn child are welcome. Current
front-runners include -

Barack (a very popular choice these days)
Barkai (more popular on Yom ke-Purim)
Zerach (one of my son's middle names)

As the brit will be taking place on Purim, there isn't much time, so
please hurry.

To send the Katz family Mazal Tov wishes, make suggestions for a name
or to request their curriculum on Birkat ha-Hamah - useful every 28
years - write to them at [log in to unmask]

And don't forget to order those T-shirts for your school!!

Other available Birkat ha-Hamah paraphernalia include -

A commemorative calendar -

A new book -
The Sun's Special Blessing by Sandy Wasserman

An art contest -

...but don't forget the T-shirts -


NB Although I take no responsibility for anything that appears in the
rest of this issue, I would like to thank the Lookjedders who helped
make this happen, and, in particular, Yitzie Blau, Shlomo Horwitz and
especially Avi Billet. SZB


I. Queries:

From: [log in to unmask]
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Monday, February 23, 2009 6:49 PM
Subject: Frumkite query

Does anyone know where I can find resources to teach about frum kites?
Frum cars have been in the news (, but
there does not seem to be anything about kites. Considering that we
put a lot of emphasis on frumkite, perhaps someone should go into the
business of selling kites with kippahs, peyos and tzitzis? I think it
will add to the industry and make for very interesting lesson plans.

Mary Poppins
London Hebrew Day School


From: Shlomo Horwitz [log in to unmask]
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Sunday, February 22, 2009 6:49 PM
Subject: Fast of Easter

Dear Shalom and Lookjed Colleagues,

Rosh Chodesh Adar Sameach. Many of my Christian friends have pointed
out to me that Easter and Purim are extremely intertwined, especially
as evidenced by the Fast of Easter, sacred to both religions. I was
wondering if any of you have any audio-visual materials that you've
found useful in ecumenical settings that explain the reasons for the
fast and its connection to Easter.

Happy Purim,

Shlomo Horwitz
[log in to unmask]


II. Satisfying God by keeping the commandments

From: Isaac Newton <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Saturday, March 07, 2009 11:38 PM
Subject: Keeping God happy

Intellectual honesty represents one of the most important religious
traits.  The best Jewish educators must embody integrity, veracity,
and accuracy.  Indeed, honest presentation of rabbinic source material
should be the guiding principle of a Jewish educator.   With that
introduction, we can now look at rabbinic materials regarding issues
of belief.

We should present the issues to our students in as fair a manner as
possible.  They must understand the choices involved in these weighty
questions.   Our students could align themselves with Rambam and
practically guarantee themselves eternal bliss in the World to Come.
Alternatively, they could side with a few Hasidishe rebbes and other
obscure aharonim and risk karet.

Granted that R. Yehuda Halevi and Ramban rejected Rambam's
philosophical rationalism.  It is also true that R. Meir Halevi
Abulafia, R. Hasdai Crescas, R. Yosef Albo and Abravanel all disagreed
with various Maimonidean positions including such issues as whether
philosophical truths are the ticket to eternality, whether kefirah
is kefirah, whether we can apply positive attributes to God,
and whether the World to Come will have a corporeal component.  Yet
who are they compared to THE RAMBAM.  Anyway, why take a chance on
perdition when the World to Come beckons?


[Previous posts have included Alan Yaniger's original works of piyyut
(for example, see ). In the interests of
clarifying the centrality of the Maimonidean approach to Jewish life
generally and Torah study specifically, I have included his Rambam
song below.

Scholars have often wondered why Yaniger's piyyut on the Rambam does
not refer specifically to the Rambam's work in the area of Jewish
thought and philosophy. While some concluded that this indicates a
rejection of Maimonidean thought by the paytan, recent excavations
have uncovered an "unknown stanza," one that I am sure Rav Alan would
disassociate himself from utterly and totally. In the interests of the
day, I have included it at the end of the piyyut, but its veracity
remains very much in question.


Rambam song + lost stanza

To the tune of "oom-papa oom-papa, that's how it goes"

Rambam, and then see the Sefer Mitzvot,
Rambam and see the Perush Mishnayot,
Rambam and don't miss any kotarot,
That's how we learn in Brisk.

See a little Rashi here,
See a little Tosafot there,
If you have a penchant to open your Shas,
Just let it be nikar,
The Rambam is the ikar
If you've got any feeling for tuv ta'am va-da'at

One Rambam, two Rambam, three Rambam, four,
Five Rambam, six Rambam, more Rambam, more,
Eight Rambam, nine Rambam, Rambam galore!
That's how we learn in Brisk.

Bring up your ketanim,
With ahavah and zemanim,
Because we know that all children must have their fun,
But when they get older,
With big halakhic shoulders
Just put them in the ring with to'en ve-nitan.

Rambam for breakfast and Rambam in bed,
Eat Rambam, sleep Rambam, Rambam's your bread,
Hiddushei Reb Hayyim is your chocolate spread,
That's how we learn in Brisk.

Thirty-nine rishonim and ninety aharonim
Have found a resting place on the shelf in the back,
From early in the morning,
The seder of our learning
Is eighteen hours Rambam and then hit the sack.

The Rif, Ran and Rosh will all wait awhile,
For who can compare with the Sage of the Nile,
Show me your Rambam, I'll show you my smile,
That's how we learn in Brisk.


The questionable stanza begins here -

Know all your ikkarim, choose carefully your rabbonim
Study the Moreh really well,
Is Monotheism
Better believe it or you'll really smell
(some manuscripts end the last line above with the words "you'll go to
Gehenna", but that reading has been rejected since it does not fit the
rhyme pattern.)

Only the Rambam knows what is true,
What to believe if you're really a Jew,
Other meforshim haven't a clue,
That's how we learn in Brisk.

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III. a. Illiteracy Epidemic

From: Shalom Berger <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Sunday, March 07, 2009 11:38 PM
Subject: Illiteracy Epidemic

I am not certain what is upsetting so many people. Today, basic skills
need not be taught, as they can simply be digitized and downloaded,
obviating the need for all that tedious study. This is clearly the
trend of the future.

While some may be upset about such changes, I will point to the time
that the oral law was committed to writing as an example. Surely many
were upset with that change, yet we see that over the generations it
was found to be a useful "upgrade." Now we are moving in the other
direction by taking the written word and committing it to oral media.

Here is one useful example of this new use of technology -

...and here you can find me participating in a project based on this
concept -

[For those of you who suspect that I am only virtual and have no
corporeal existence, that really is me (well, a virtual me) speaking,
with my wife standing next to me, although her face is in the shadows,

Shalom Berger
Purim Director
Machon Bnos Lobotomy

[A useful resource that argues that the study of Hebrew language is
truly important (at least in late 19th century Poland) is Sefer Safah
on the importance of Hebrew language literacy penned by Rav
Boruch Epstein, author of the Torah Temimah.
You can download it from at


b. Illicitry Epidemic

From: Zimri ben Salu <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Sunday, March 07, 2009BCE 11:38 PM
Subject: Illicitry Epidemic

Does anyone have a tried and true method for teaching parashot acharei
and kedoshim? Experiential successes are most appreciated.
If I don't hear from you by next week, I may have to resort to
desperate measures.

Zimri ben Salu


c. Alliteracy Epidemic

From: Moses Mendelssohn <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Sunday, March 07, 1780 11:38 PM
Subject: Alliteracy Epidemic

Tired of teachers teaching trash. Time to talk to talmidim towards
trusting themselves together talking tachlis.

Would women wead towah once with world wide, wonderful wunderment?

Seriously suggesting something severe be sanctioned soon so sons see

Moses Mendelssohn

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From: [log in to unmask]
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Monday, February 23, 2009 6:49 PM
Subject: CHAPTER School

Enough about the Charter Schools already. We need to come up with REAL
solutions to REAL problems. Kids these days always ask if there is an
English translation, and then they ask if there are any pictures in
the book. We need to encourage kids to read books, chaPter by chaPter.
This has nothing to do with chart or with charters.

Do you know how many kids already think the charter school's dominant
quality is its emphasis on reading comprehension? As this is the case,
we must do our part to make ChaPter schools the thing of the coming
decade. It will reform education, providing for a much needed bailout
and stimulus package which makes education a thing to consider in the
coming years.

I'll read to that.

Marvin Shnickers

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V. Girls of Prey

From: [log in to unmask]
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Sunday, March 07, 2009 11:38 PM
Subject: Girls of Prey

I think the main issue here is that the girls are being stifled from
their natural tendency to hunt. Once we recognize the deficiency -
namely that our schools are in urban setting (not to mention
"sub"urban!") - we can understand why the girls are not feeling

Venison anyone?

Xena, Princess Warrior

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VI. What we NOW know about Jewish Education

From: [log in to unmask]
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Sunday, March 07, 2009 11:38 PM
Subject: What we NOW know about Jewish Education

Shalom, I would like to add my two cents into the equation,
particularly so they can help the machanchim and mechanchot who are
getting paid bubkiss.

We NOW know that the number one birth control is tuition, so we can
rest happy knowing that while we're not having more children, we can
pay rocket high school bills.

An old woman
Residing in a shoe


From: [log in to unmask]
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Sunday, March 07, 2009 11:38 PM
Subject: WEB 2.0

Here is an issue that has been bugging me for a long time. Two point
oh is a very small font. For some of us, the web is an intricately
designed world of excitement that can bring accolades upon us or our
subjects, depending on if we are even noticed. Sometimes it is just
our product, or the method of conveyance that people notice, and
sometimes we just drop by the way-side silking off into the sunset as
some other hair-brained creature gets all the credit for the things we
do. All we ask is for you to sit back and notice the good that we do
for you, and stop trying to come up with practical ways of getting rid
of us. We do very important work with webs, and it's about time we got
the credit for it.

Charlotte and E. B. White


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