Joel Lurie Grishaver
Schools use metaphors to know who they are. For a long time the “Hebrew School” (Congregational, Religious School, etc.) was imprinted on the American public school that in turn was rooted in the industrial revolution’s platoon system. Rows, textbooks, blackboards, talk of classroom management, homework, recess, and the other trappings of public schools were seen as optimal models for Jewish learning. Just as a generation of public school transformed Jews into Americans, American Jewry decided to use the same technology to Jewdify these new immigrants. Look at the work of Dr. Samson S. Benderly.
Similarly, Cherie Koller-Fox’s adaptation of the “open classroom” model (that had its ten minutes in the sun) gave birth ultimately to CAJE and a whole series of innovative educational strategies. Similarly, Nechama Skolnick Moskowitz and the URJ’s involvement in Understanding By Design shifted planning and assessment in many Jewish settings.
The Art Studio at Oakland Hebrew Day School is alight with butterflies hanging from every light fixture, just waiting to decorate our sukkah. Sukkot is a magical time, when we are able to transform a fragile, temporary shelter into a place of family, friendship and sanctity. The decorations we craft are sustainable, able to withstand time and weather so that, after enjoying their decorations in our school sukkah, the students can delight in their decorations at home, every year thereafter. To engage the students meaningfully and passionately, the decorations they create must be special and everlasting.
Congratulations (and a hearty kol ha-kavod) are in order to Rachel Barenblat, one of the authors of God: Jewish Choices for Struggling the Ultimate.
Rachel recently received a very public yasher koach from Nick Kristof in his NY Times column:
If this is a testing time, then some have passed with flying colors. Hats off to a rabbinical student in Massachusetts, Rachel Barenblat, who raised money to replace prayer rugs that a drunken intruder had urinated on at a mosque. She told me that she quickly raised more than $1,100 from Jews and Christians alike.
You can read Rachel’s own description here.