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LOOKJED  May 2002

LOOKJED May 2002

Subject:

Lookjed Digest IV:30

From:

Shalom Berger <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

lookjed list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 11 May 2002 22:48:44 +0300

Content-Type:

TEXT/PLAIN

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

TEXT/PLAIN (309 lines)

Topics in this issue:

I. Resource of the week (Feldman)
II. Queries:
     1. Conscientious  objectors in Tzahal (Lichtman)
     2. Teaching Ashkenazic Davening (Blaut)
III. Major themes in Bereshit (Silberstein, Witty)
IV. Thoughts on next year in Israel (Jon Levisohn)
V. New Community High Schools (Josh Levisohn)

******************************************

A few weeks ago we reprinted Dr. Chaim Feuerman's article on Community
Schools that originally appeared in Ten Da'at. I am pleased to post a
response to that article in this digest that was submitted by Josh
Levisohn.

We have also recently uploaded  "Jewish Education in a World Adrift" by
Eliezer Berkovits
http://www.lookstein.org/resources/jewisheducationinaworldadrift.htm
Comments?

Shalom

**********************************************

I. Resource of the week

This week's Resource of the Week contains a number of links for Shavuot:
A lesson plan for middle and high school students on Shavuot developed by
the Lookstein Center: http://www.lookstein.org/lessonplans/shavuot.htm
and a number of websites for elementary and middle school students to use
in the classroom.

To see all of this week's resources, go to:
http://www.lookstein.org/resource_week/may2002.htm
or to http://www.lookstein.org/resource_week.htm and click on May 2002.

Esther Feldman
Director, Information and Technology Services
[log in to unmask]

*****************************************

II. Queries:

Date: Thu, 9 May 2002 13:09:46 EDT
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Conscientious objectors in Tzahal

Dear Shalom,

I am planning a shiur on the current issue of the officers and soldiers in
Israel who are refusing to serve in Yesh"a. Does anyone know of specific
Halachik sources (primary sources or articles) on the topic of
conscientious objectors?

Thanks
Hillel Lichtman

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

Date: Mon, 6 May 2002 22:55:23 EDT
From: [log in to unmask]
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Teaching Ashkenazic Davening

In an effort to combat the difficult task of teaching Ashkenazic Davening,
the Moros and Rabei'im of my school would like to try teaching different
melodies to the davening.  Does anyone out there have experience in this?
Anyone have good, catchy melodies to any part(s) of Shacharis?

Thanks,

Rabbi Aryeh Blaut
Director of Judaic Studies
Seattle Hebrew Academy

206 323-5750 x246

********************************************

III. Major themes in Bereshit

Date: Sun, 5 May 2002 13:46:14 -0400
From: Chana Silberstein <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: S. Rush's request for themes in B'Raishit

One theme, particularly relevant to eighth graders embarking on 'setting"
their course in life, is an examination of journeys and travels... whether
Adam's exile from Gan Eden, Noach in and out of the ark... Abraham to the
land of Israel... or to Egypt/ Gerar, Yaakov traveling to laban and later
returning to Israel... Joseph (and later his brothers) journey down to
Egypt... the purpose of each trip.. the challenges... Lots of room here
for comparison and contrast and discussion as to how destinations are set,
how much we control where we are going, how we prepare and respond to
"difficult trips", anticipation of new growth experiences, etc.

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

Date: Mon, 6 May 2002 10:59:34 -0400
From: [log in to unmask]

In regard to the themes that are present in Sefer Breishit I would like
to make the following suggestions:

1) Aharon Eldar (at the time a Shaliach for the Torah Education and
Culture Department) gave a terrific shiur at a professional development
day sponsored by the BJE in Boston.  His topic was the theme of
"Brothers" in Sefer Breishit.  He developed this topic in comparing the
various types of family structures that are described in that sefer.  The
examples used were a) Kayin and Hevel b) Yishmael and Yitzchak c) Esav
and Yaakov and d) 12 sons of Yaakov.  The main idea of his presentation
was that although these were all situations with brothers, each one was
just different enough  to highlight a particular facet of family life.

2) Connected to this first theme would be the theme of "Fathers and Sons"
and the various relationships that are evident throughout Sefer Breishit
along these lines.

3) Another theme that could be developed through Sefer Breishit is the
theme of "Dreams".  Many of the main characters in the book have dreams
at some point in the story and the comparisons that can be made between
the dreams can be quite instructive.  The comparison between the dreams
of Joseph and the dreams of Pharaoh are particularly meaningful.

I hope this has been helpful.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Avraham Aryaih Witty
Principal, United Hebrew Institute
Kingston, Pennsylvania

*******************************************************

IV. Thoughts on next year in Israel

Date: Sun, 5 May 2002 10:33:10 -0700
From: Jon Levisohn <[log in to unmask]>

>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
>http://www.jta.org/page_view_story.asp?intarticleid=11239&intcategoryid=4).
>
>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?

Given the past record of public misunderstanding on this issue, I think
it's important that we be careful about what the various institutions have
and have not done.  For example: this year, HUC allowed students in
Jerusalem, who felt compelled for personal or family reasons to return to
the US, to do so without forcing them to forego credit for the entire
year.  They did not cancel classes, nor did they send students away.
Responses to this administrative decision tended towards hand-wringing or
finger-wagging, even though most other rabbinical seminaries do not
require a year of learning in Israel in the first place.

I, for one, do not know whether HUC made the right decision in this
instance, and the public misunderstanding might be one indication that
they did not.  I certainly have no objection to figuring out what we can
do to convince students of all ages that they ought not to give up on
their Israel programs (although I also firmly believe we should be
sensitive to particular family circumstances when we do so).  My point is
merely that we should be careful about the generalizations that we make
about the preparation of the future leaders of American Jewry.

Jon Levisohn
Stanford University

**************************************************

V. New Community High Schools

Date: Sun, 05 May 2002 23:09:01 -0400
From: Joshua Levisohn <[log in to unmask]>

Everyone

Rabbi Dr. Chaim Feuerman's article about the phenomenon of the new
Community High Schools (referenced in Lookjed IV:27 and posted on the
Lookstein Center site at
www.lookstein.org/resources/jewishcommunityschool.htm) warrants a response
to clarify and explain this model of high school education.

Unlike the impression given by Rabbi Feuerman in his article, the mission
of the Jewish community high school goes well beyond the goal of arresting
intermarriage and assimilation. As in Orthodox day schools, those involved
with the community schools care about creating more educated Jews; that
their offspring will continue to be Jewish is an anticipated by-product of
this education, but not its raison d'etre.  We can hardly expect or hope
for a halt in the rate of intermarriage and assimilation if our students
do not learn to value and appreciate Yiddishkeit in its own right.  And so
we teach them Torah she-bikhtav and Torah she-beal Peh.

We teach them to look to the Tanakh for models and guidance, for national
symbols and narratives, for seeing the role of God through history, for
understanding the role of the people of Israel, for comprehending aspects
of the relationship between man and God.  We demonstrate to our students
the process of interpretation, the rich heritage of commentary that
defines the Jewish approach to scripture, the engagement with sacred texts
that is inherent in our culture and identity.  We explore with our
students the purpose(s) underlying Jewish tradition and practice so that
they might bring greater meaning to their own practices, whatever they
might be.  We bring our students into conversation with the great Jewish
scholars of our history, from the Tannaim in the Mishnah and the Amoraim
in the Talmud to the luminaries of the middle ages to the eclectic but
brilliant minds of our own times.  We give them an identity as
knowledgeable Jews who thirst for even greater knowledge and
understanding.  We provide the basis for them to view the world through a
Jewish lens and to meet the dominant culture with the counterweight of
Jewish tradition and Jewish perspectives.  We give our students a taste of
a strong and vibrant Jewish community that does not define its territory
by strict denominational guidelines and we hope that they take this vision
and commitment out into whatever communities they find themselves.  We
inculcate ideals of social justice and community activism in terms of
Jewish values of Chessed, Tsedakah, and Tikkun Olam.  We nurture a love
for the land of Israel and a passionate support for the state.  We teach
them, in short, to be Jewish.

Do we always succeed with this long list of objectives?  Probably not as
much as we would like, but that is not the point.  This is our intention,
and to the extent that we don't measure up to our ideals, we strive to do
better the next time around.  But our focus is on creating such
knowledgeable, thinking, committed and passionate Jews.  As you can see,
it is not possible nor fair to summarize this mission as a desperate
attempt to halt the slide towards intermarriage and assimilation.  And if,
indeed, it is in the minds of some (perhaps many) of our parents, then I
applaud their attempt to combat intermarriage through real Jewish
education rather than through some half-hearted and meaningless
guilt-trip.

There is a further point that I believe needs to be addressed.  In
describing his "serious concern" with the current model of the community
high school, Rabbi Feurman focuses exclusively on the issue of students of
patrilineal descent.  As difficult and thorny as this issue might be in
theory, it is of very minor impact on the school on a daily basis.  If I
understand the demographics correctly, the numbers of students of
patrilineal descent in the schools that admit them (at least one community
high school does not) is exceedingly small and the schools do not take a
stand as to their Jewishness, per se.  Instead, their acceptance is a
result of the inclusiveness of these schools, which open their doors to
all Jews who identify with the mainstream denominations, including
Reform.  I concede that the Reform movement's decision with regard to
patrilineal descent is of real concern to halakhically observant Jews;
however, I also affirm that as a practical matter in the schools
themselves, the issue is a minor one (in some places it is almost
non-existent), and thus to place in question the schools' legitimacy on
this basis is entirely misleading and, in my mind, invalid.  It is also a
red herring to be concerned about the representation of Orthodox Jews on
the faculty.  Again, as a practical matter, self-identified Orthodox Jews
dominate the Judaica faculties of the community high schools, and they are
no more worried about the possibility that they might be teaching Torah to
a non-Jew than is any rabbi who lectures in front of an open audience.  If
anything, the problem in the community high schools lies in the difficulty
in attracting non-Orthodox teachers, a topic for another discussion,
perhaps.

Community high schools provide an alternative to Orthodox day schools and,
for the most part, attract students who would otherwise not go to a Jewish
day school.  There are many who will find halakhic problems in the
community high school system--that is certainly their right, and they are
free to steer clear of these schools, either as teachers or as students.
The pluralistic setting is also not appropriate for everyone.  I don't
believe that the leaders of community high schools claim to be the best
option for all Jews, regardless of halakhic or ideological commitment.
And I don't expect many Orthodox rabbis to advocate community schools
over Orthodox day schools--they may even disagree with the very mission of
the community day schools.  At the same time, I think it is only fair to
judge these schools on their own merits and by their own mission.  They
have earned that right and deserve that respect.

Joshua Levisohn
Akiba Hebrew Academy
(The views expressed above are my own, and do not necessarily represent
the views of others involved in community high schools.)


********************************************************************
The Lookjed 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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supported, in part, by a generous grant from the AviChai Foundation.
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writing to: [log in to unmask]
#####################################################################

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