In the Talmud we read of a discussion between sages over the question of study vs. practice. One rabbi claimed that practice was more important than study. Another declared that the reverse was true, and that study was primary. The consensus was that study is more important because it leads to practice. The conversations on JEDLAB reflect these two perspectives.
Joel Lurie Grishaver
The New York Times published an article by Michael Paulson last week, The ‘Pay What You Want’ Experiment at Synagogues. It puts together two things we know (a) that synagogues are losing members, and (b) that synagogues are expensive (if costly to operate). Its news is that more than 30 synagogues are trying to build membership by allowing members to set their own dues level. It suggested (as lots of people–including me–often do) that money is the problem.
Within a week, Nina Badzin responded on Kveller, Expensive Dues Aren’t the Only Reason People Don’t Go to Synagogues , “Changing the financial requirement for membership without addressing the deeper disinterest in attending synagogue is going to yield more of the same long term: low participation and apathy.”
Walking into most synagogue school classrooms, visitors are greeted by the universal “Prayer Chart.” On one axis, are the student names and on the other, the brachot they have accomplished in recitation, accompanied by stickers indicating proficiency. Most Jewish youngsters can recite the Shema from the time they are in 2nd grade. Few students (and sometimes their teachers) recognize that the Shema goes beyond the 2 oft repeated lines; very few can tell you what it means (beyond a formulaic translation) and fewer still can describe their own connection to the Shema.
Debi Swedelson Mishael
I was very excited about my lesson for this week’s 8th grade Religious School class. I was planning to start with an attention catching set-induction including props! (I love to start a lesson with props!) Little did I know, my students had another idea. We all walked into the room at the same time. Everyone settled into their comfortable spaces. Some sit in chairs, some on the tables, and a couple of lucky kids grab the two bean bags donated by my daughter after space became a premium in college living. “Ms. Mishael, have you seen the 50 Shades movie? Have you read the books?”
Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens Through the Twenties by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett
I don’t know if we actually need this book to tell us that there is a life cycle stage between adolescence and adulthood. After all, we see it right before our eyes in our homes, families and workplaces. But while we might be wondering what phenomenon we are seeing, Jeffrey Arnett provides us with a label, “emerging adults,” and a definition, and we say, “Ah, yes. Of course. That’s what it is! I recognize that phenomenon. Why hasn’t anyone provided this helpful label before?”
“Longer and more widespread education, later entry into marriage and parenthood and a prolonged and erratic transition to stable work have opened up a space for a new life stage in between adolescence and young adulthood, and “emerging adulthood” is what I have proposed to call that life stage.” (chapter 1)