Topics in this issue:
I. Resource of the week (Feldman)
1. Learning centers about halakhic texts (Reisler)
2. Topic-based Judaic Curriculum (Arussy)
3. Major themes in Bereshit (Rush)
III. Thoughts on next year in Israel (Jacobs)
IV. 94 websites about Jerusalem (Richman)
V. First Person (Levy)
This year more than ever, our connection to Jerusalem is an essential
educational message. With Yom Yerushalayim upon us on Friday, I am
including a number of resources in this digest, including Dr. Bryna Levy's
"First Person" reflections.
Rav Soloveichick's "Kol Dodi Dofek" is a text that I always share with my
students this time of year. We have recently uploaded an educational essay
by Professor Moshe Sokolow of the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish
Education that is based on that article.
You can find it under "Fate, Destiny and "Shivat Tziyon: The Rav on
Religious Zionism" in our Resource Library, or can link directly to
I. Resource of the week
This weeks Resource of the Week: An animated timeline on Jerusalem from
the Jerusalem Archeological Park and the Israel Antiques Authority.
Includes biographies and historical notes. To see this week's resource go
to: http://www.lookstein.org/resource_week/may2002.htm or to
http://www.lookstein.org/resource_week.htm and click on May 2002.
Director, Information and Technology Services
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1. Learning centers about halakhic texts
Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2002 00:06:11 +0200
From: Lawrence and Miriam Reisler <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: learning centers about halakhic texts
I am currently working with another teacher preparing activity-based
learning centers to teach our 7th grade girls' class about basic texts and
personalities - mishna/tannaim, gemara/amoraim, rashi and tosafot, Rambam,
Shulchan Arukh (with perhaps a mini-station about the Sefer Hachinuch).
We are planning to have the students identify the various authors/works on
a time line and map, in addition to playing games which require flipping
through the books in order to get a sense of what's inside each one and
how it's organized.
Has anyone done this before? Are there any recommendations for books that
would be helpful in setting up such an experience (especially the
game-playing)? Thanks in advance for your replies.
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Date: Fri, 03 May 2002 18:34:07 -0400
From: Drora Arussy <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Topic-based Judaic Curriculum
In our quest to create a meaningful integrated middle school curriculum,
we are working towards a two-year cycling curriculum for a combined
seventh and eighth grade. We will have 3-4 levels of Judaic studies
(including Hebrew language) that will be include heterogeneous grouping by
age and somewhat homogeneous by Hebrew and Tanach deciphering skills. To
this end we are looking to teach topically rather than chronologically as
TaNaKh is usually taught.
We are looking for a topic-based curriculum and/or required skill set for
Bamidbar, Devarim, Vayikra, Shmuel Bet, Melakhim Aleph, middle school
Gemara and Hebrew. I would be happy to share our results once I have
compiled all the material.
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[This query came in to the Lookstein Center Helpdesk]
From: Rush, Sheerli
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2002 6:48 PM
I am teaching 8th Grade Bereshit where we revisit the stories and asks
questions that students would take with them throughout life and public
school after they leave Jewish Day School.
I need suggestions on what are perhaps four major themes in Bereshit that
can be covered in 8th grade.
Atlanta GA - Epstein School, Middle School Judaics Teacher
III. Thoughts on next year in Israel
Date: Tue, 30 Apr 2002 14:59:09 -0400
From: [log in to unmask]
I read with interest Dan Krakow's thoughts on encouraging students to come
on one-year programs in Israel next year. He certainly convinced me. The
issue at hand is responding to those whose concerns are outweighing their
convictions. Many university overseas study program have actually
forbidden their students to attend programs in Israel because of their
fear of legal responsibility for the students while in Israel.
On a different front, recent media reports indicate that the Conservative
and Reform movements are considering waiving their ordination requirement
of a year in Israel for their Rabbinical students (see
Such a move goes well beyond keeping a high school graduate home from
Israel. Future leaders of American Jewry are going to miss out on the
opportunity to connect with the Land of Israel at a point in life when
permanent connection can be forged. How do we convince these programs to
keep their students in Israel?
V. 94 websites about Jerusalem
Date: Thu, 2 May 2002 00:16:40 +0200
From: Jacob Richman <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: 94 websites about Jerusalem (Jerusalem Day is May 10)
"Jerusalem Day" is celebrated this year on Friday, May 10, 2002. I posted
on my website 94 links to learn about this ancient / modern city.
The web address is:
VI. First Person
Date: Fri, 29 Mar 2002 09:59:45 +0200
From: Bryna J. Levy <[log in to unmask]>
Stained Glass Windows
A little known rabbinic injunction states that a Jew should always pray in
a room with windows. The rationale is that no matter where a Jew finds
himself or herself their hearts and souls should take flight as their eyes
gaze in the direction of Jerusalem. But perhaps windows in sanctuaries of
worship are intended to help us focus on the windows of opportunity that
we become deeply aware of through service of the heart.
For millennia Jewish prayers have transcended time and place as the
thoughts and dreams of worshipers have drifted off in the direction of the
holiest of cities. Through these windows of prayer Jews were able to
conjure up enchanting vistas of the city of peace and holiness. Images
appeared of the streets of Jerusalem filled with laughter of children and
serenity of elderly couples strolling through the boulevards. In the
ultimate portrait, Mother Zion beams with joy that all of her children
have come home.
These visions during most periods of Jewish history fall into the category
of long range prophetic projections like those of the prophets Isaiah,
Zachariah and Jeremiah. In contrast to his extensive prophecies of doom,
Jeremiah in a rare foray into the rhetoric of consolation, presents a
panoramic view of vast multitudes of Jews returning home. From the young
to the old, the healthy to the infirmed, men women and children, with joy
and with tears came streaming back. Together they followed the guideposts
leading them to the Land of Israel.
The rabbis of the Talmud, (Megilla 14b), decided to take this fantastic
dream and transpose it into historic time. In an imaginative scenario they
presented Jeremiah embarking on a journey to the East to bring home the
ten lost tribes. At first glance this talmudic possibility seems unlikely.
As the chief prophet of Judea during the sixth century, Jeremiah's charges
were the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. For forty years he toiled
ceaselessly to restore them to the spiritual straight and narrow. What
possible connection did he have to the ten lost tribes, who had been
exiled from the Kingdom of Israel one hundred years before? They had long
ago struck Diaspora roots. What possessed Jeremiah to bring the ten tribes
back to the Promised Land?
The answer requires some background. The talmudic episode is set in the
year 622 when Josiah was King of Judea. While refurbishing the Temple his
men found a long lost Torah scroll. After prophetic consultation, the king
was inspired to adhere to the words of Torah and embark upon a spiritual
revolution. He, along with his people, declared their allegiance to the
Lord God of Israel. The people were finally united under the banner of
monotheism, covenant and shared values.
One can only imagine what Jeremiah was thinking. The time was at hand.
Redemption called for the solidarity of all of Israel. No one was
disenfranchised by the prophet. Jeremiah's unabating faith in a united
people overshadowed his sober realism. If there existed a possibility of
revitalizing the sovereignty of the united monarchy Jeremiah would stop at
nothing to include every last Jew. It was the hope of the prophet that
during this spiritual renaissance, his Diaspora brethren would choose this
challenging but rewarding opportunity. The response to this invitation,
however, remains dormant in the unwritten chapters of history.
Sitting in my home in Jerusalem, centuries later, I envision the modern
day parallel. A leader steps forward and passionately describes the
historic opportunity presented by the modern State of Israel. The gates of
Zion are once again open and Jerusalem beckons; our heritage awaits us and
all of world Jewry can and must play a part.
I am told by those around me that my imagination has gotten the better of
me. Prophecy today is limited to children and madmen. Even if these were
the best of times, the likelihood of mass immigration by Jews from
countries of security and plenty is chimerical. But these are the worst of
times. Why would anyone come to Israel when the country is torn by war and
terror and the frightening grip of mortality becomes tighter with every
I can only answer the question in the first person. I think about the
window of opportunity which was presented to my husband and myself some
twenty two years ago when we left our families and made Aliyah. Little did
we know then the kinds of challenges which we would face and whether or
not we would have the endurance and spiritual strength to confront them.
We were young and idealistic, our first born child was just a few weeks
old and with a song in our hearts we made the quantum leap. When I look
back, I realize that the decision was not merely anchored in innocence and
in a romanticized version of Zionist dreams. My decision was forged
through fire. It was the result of war.
It was 1973 and I was a student studying here in Israel. It was not long
after the school year began that the High Holy Days were upon us. Yom
Kippur that year presented a spiritually transformational experience in a
way it never had before. Religious men in white robes and prayer shawls
climbed into tanks on the Holiest day of the year and went off to war.
Husbands, brothers and sons banded together to defend us in a sacred
campaign for the sake of our people, our land and our beliefs. This scene
imbued me with inexorable Zionist hope.
The clarity of that moment created my homecoming and opened a window which
never closed. I was not able to make Aliyah for another seven years, but
the die was cast. While in the Diaspora I worked toward the goal, setting
up my own guideposts so that this dream would become a reality. My prayers
were answered and my efforts rewarded. I was blessed.
But windows become misty, shades are drawn and the panes of glass are
shattered. Constant war and struggle have given me a new way to view the
expression stained glass windows.
We ask ourselves why we are exposing our families to such danger and we
are hard pressed to answer others. There seem to be brighter windows of
But it is through the mistiness of the window that the scene of that
fateful Yom Kippur replays itself in my mind. At that propitious moment, I
found myself standing on sacred soil and vowed that the ancient and holy
Land of Israel threatened by modern warfare, required me to stand my
ground as another link in this great chain. At that point national history
and personal history came together for me. The clarion call of Jeremiah
called me home.
I am often asked how Diaspora Jewry can come to the aid of their Israeli
brethren. Prayer vigils, letters, demonstrations, and expressions of
support are sincerely appreciated. But for some this historic opportunity
now beckons, presenting a unique window of opportunity. The pain which is
experienced watching our struggles from the sidelines can be channeled
into the energy to meet the formidable challenge of standing alongside us
here on the front lines and taking a close look at this cherished vista of
our collective national destiny.
Jews should always pray in a room with windows. The view will help them
know what to pray for. It will enable them to pray for the vision to see
historic rolling hills and to gaze beyond to landscapes of hope and
blessing. This vision, this window of opportunity, may provide the inner
courage to become an active part of Jewish national history.
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