At this very moment, it’s pouring here in Los Angeles. Even though rain is a great thing for our drought-plagues part of the country, it’s also a big pain for us Southern Californians. The main reason: We spend a lot of time on the freeway, and most Californians — used to the 361 days of sun per year — have no idea how to drive in the rain. Rainy days are no fun for us commuters.
Of course, the rain is a lot less of a problem if you’re not around to get dripped on. Last weekend, Josh was in Austin, Texas to work with teachers. Joel is in New York right now. And Jane and Josh are leaving very soon for the hospitable environs of Chicago, Illinois for the JEA conference.
If you’re going to be at the JEA, come find our booth. We’ll have samples of our newest materials and lots of cool gifts (especially for Club Ed members!).
In the meantime… Check out all the goodies on the TAPBB Blog. Laurie muses on report cards. Idie Benjamin — subbing for Carol — waxes philosophic about self-esteem in the classroom. And Josh explains how God delivers the kiss of death.
It’s a topic that’s so scary it’s hard to write on your curriculum. It has teachers shaking in their boots.
Teaching about God. To teenagers.
And though it might be scary for us to teach, it’s also an important part of any young adult’s Jewish education.
That’s why we’re pleased to announce the release of God: Jewish Choices for Struggling With the Ultimate.
It’s the perfect text for confirmation classes, theology electives, or for teenagers who ask big questions about God. Carefully edited and organized to be a text for the Jewish classroom, God: Jewish Choices for Struggling With the Ultimate is a resource for helping every student clarify and expand his or her own beliefs.
Start with this premise: Judaism offers at least two (and usually many more) answers to every question.
We collected thirteen questions about God. Then we found a bunch of rabbinical students, young Jewish teachers, and other new voices in the Jewish world. We asked them the questions, and they gave us their answers. Sometimes they agreed. Sometimes they didn’t. Some of their answers are really traditional. Some of them are off-the-wall. All of their answers are Jewish answers to Jewish questions.
God: Jewish Choices for Struggling With the Ultimate is mostly a collection of their best work.
Judaism’s approach to the Divine is not a black and white matter. Finding belief is not about answering simple yes-or-no questions. God is about asking tough questions, finding that there’s usually more than one “Jewish” answer, and trying to make a choice that fits.
by Guest Columnist Idie Benjamin
Self-esteem is a good idea. We want children to feel good about themselves, to feel competent, and to have confidence. We want children to be eager learners.
So we praise and praise and praise!! “You are the best!” “Good girl!” “Good job!”
We have the right motivation but the wrong methods. What we end up with is endless cheerleading that is not connected to character or real achievement.
Here are five things to consider about self-esteem:
by Laurie Bellet
It is that time of year when many thoughts, and sighs, turn towards report cards. We don’t always call them report cards anymore. We might call them ‘progress notes,’ ‘assessments,’ or ‘evaluations;’ or, we might call them, just plain ‘onerous.’ If I think back several years, I used to answer a lot of questions that referred to the format of the report card and, I dedicated a few columns to writing narratives that were engaging and comments that were meaningful. The questions I receive now, about report cards, are more fundamental. The major questions today seem to be, “Are report cards a reasonable undertaking?” “Do evaluations serve any purpose when teachers, in supplemental programs, only see their students once or twice weekly?” “Is the outcome worth the burden of work?”
After much thought, and another 150 report cards written, I believe that the answer to each of those questions is, “yes!” Here for you, are my top 5 reasons to prove my case regarding the value of report cards (progress notes, assessments, evaluations, etc.).
In “Jewish Values From Alef to Tav,” the text in the lesson on the letter Nun has the line, “Midrash tells us that Moses died as a very old man when God kissed him.”
Josh was in Austin, Texas last weekend working with teachers at Congregation Agudas Achim and Temple Beth Shalom.
One of the teachers, Tammy S., mentioned that some of her students wanted to know more about this particular midrash. Josh gave her the short answer: “We got it from Rashi.” But he promised her more information. So here it is: