Everywhere we turn someone has posted, shared, and tweeted some take on this year’s Thanksgivukkah. There have been some clever comments, amusing songs, poems, jokes, etc. We really do have a sense of humor. And as educators of young children, we can see the how this event is ripe for thought as to how to bring relevance and meaning to this combination of celebrations. However, we are concerned about what will young children will take away from this unique convergence of holidays.
Roberta Louis Goodman
Every summer I think about icebergs, sounds a bit like an oxymoron. The Goodman Center for Jewish Education is an iceberg. The programs and classes that we provide for our students and their families fall through spring, ten hours a week, are the “tip of the iceberg,” the visible part of what we do. We prepare at least 10x as much for every hour of school. That not so visible part is doing during the summer and even during the school year.
At Oakland Hebrew Day School, no one ever needs to ask this question or even wonder. In every room, there is a student created mizrah plaque. Why do we need a mizrah? A mizrah (east) plaque makes it clear, for purposes of tefillah, which way we face in order to look towards Israel. (If you are reading this in Asia, the previous statement does not apply but, that is discussion for another day) A mizrah plaque is a beautiful addition to any classroom or home. It is another way to declare that ‘this’ space is Jewish. In the classroom, especially, it is a reminder that the room and its activities are ‘kodesh.’
If the conversations found on JEDLAB, that Facebook based community of close to 2000 Jewsh educators, technologists and futurists, can be characterized in one word, I’d use effervescent. New ideas and concepts are always bubbling up. Someone will make a comment, and what may burst forth is an intense flurry of thought provoking discussions. Sometimes these exchanges last for an hour or two, sometimes for a week, and at times they never end. They all, however, have the potential of impacting the way we teach and think about Judaism and Israel.
We’ve just concluded the busy month of Tishrei תשרי and for many of us, the Religious School year has finally started in full swing. With an October start of classes, I found that I had more time to reflect about the year ahead and the students with whom I would experience it. I’ve been teaching for over 35 years and I like to think that my classes are creative and engaging. I like to think that my interactive and “camp-like” lesson plans are fun and educational and that they stimulate the participants to love Judaism the way I do. I like to think that my classes meet the needs of my students.