Let Me Count the Ways 4

Five THINGS WE LEARNED AND STILL LEARN FROM PETER A. STARK, zikhrono livrakha

by Carol Starin

Peter Stark died tragically on January 3rd. I first met him at CAJE and later worked with him on the CAJE board (where we knocked heads a few times). Peter was so talented—he knew 7 or 8 languages, sang and wrote beautifully. Although I never saw him in action on a stage, I knew that he must have been a terrific actor. Peter was smart, sensitive, thoughtful. And, for years, he was part of the 5 things Advisory Group that provided guidance, advice, and input for the columns I wrote for the Torah Aura Bulletin Board.

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Ma Barish z”l Reply

Our good friend Shirley Barish died last month. It is a big loss. Shirley, who went as Mom or Ma Barish, was an ultimate volunteer—a volunteer who was so good that she became a professional. She had a path that led from being a volunteer youth group advisor, to running events for the Houston community, to founding CAJE, to writing a national newsletter for small schools—and more. She was the ultimate problem solver. Here is my personal favorite story about Shirley Barish.

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More on CAJE: A Vision Undone 1

Last week, we published five essays answering the question “What’s next for CAJE?” We invited readers to send us their thoughts. This is one of several responses we received from TAPBB readers.

by Peter Stark

The announcement that there would be no CAJE conference this coming year is sad, but it is the inevitable conclusion of the drift of the organization away from the vision of teacher support and teacher participation. There is certainly nothing wrong with principal participation nor with principal support, or lay person support, but there are other organizations with that mission.

The new American Colors of Limmud, meanwhile, are springing up like wildflowers, and more power to them. Their mission is Jewish learning, one CAJE shared, but one which CAJE transcended, because CAJE was (I hate writing about CAJE in the past tense!) an organization for Jewish education, not only for Jewish learning.

The purpose of these comments is to not to dwell upon the past, but (the phrase is Churchill’s) to lay the lessons of the past before the future. In other words, to look at some critical turning points along the way to where we are in order to chart a course toward building a future. They reflect my own opinions and perhaps those of others, but they are being written only by me at one go as a reaction to the news.

There were several episodes of handwriting on the wall.

The first was the alteration of the title of CAJE from Conference on Alternatives in Jewish Education to Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education. This was a step backward, toward the very models which served the background for the founding of CAJE as an ALTERNATIVE organization. If CAJE had begun as the CONFERENCE OF SAME OLD CONFERENCES, I wonder how many people would have attended the first conferences. And the business school exercise of arguing about name changes and writing new goal statements as a way of creating the illusion of participatory democracy while the real decisions are taken by a powerful elite contributed to the current economic malaise as well as to the sad news about CAJE.

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More on CAJE: Echoing the Sentiments Reply

Last week, we published five essays answering the question “What’s next for CAJE?” We invited readers to send us their thoughts. This is one of several responses we received from TAPBB readers.

by Janice Alper

Ecclesiastes tells us that for everything there is a season. In the US today it is a season of new hope and optimism with the cloud of fear and job loss and homelessness confronting all of us. Yet, our president has charged us to pull ourselves up and move forward.

I read with interest the various perspectives on CAJE’s recent announcement to cancel this year’s conference. While it may come as a shock to some, as with all shocking moments, we seem to get through them and emerge stronger. Thus, not to belabor the point, I find that what has already been articulated was said better than I could ever verbalize. I believe that both Cherie Koller Fox and Ira Wise have given us the charge for new hope and optimism.

We absolutely need to get back to our grass roots in the 21st century. Our conferences have to be relevant, timely and allow us to come away with broader Jewish knowledge and a feeling that we can live our lives better as Jews and transmit those feelings to all we touch, our students, families, colleagues and everyone in our lives.

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Let Me Count the Ways: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle 3

In honor and in memory of Judy Kaskel.

Last year, Carol Oseran Starin retired her column of collected Jewish teaching ideas, Let Me Count the Ways. This week, she asked if she could bring the column back for a special edition in honor of Judy Kaskel. Judy was a member of Carol’s “advisory committee” who helped make the column come to life, and she was an important part of Carol’s annual “Five Things Extravaganza” at the CAJE Conference.

by Carol Oseran Starin

Who could forget Judy? For those of you who participated in our last few CAJE Extravaganzas, Judy was our star. Her commitment to recycling and her sample projects, combined with her humor and charming approach pretty much tore the house down. Her commitment to CAJE was incredible.

Judy died two weeks ago. I’ll never forget her – she was such an inspiration to me – trudging around those vast university campuses, even when breathing was difficult for her. And, from the responses to our workshop, she was an inspiration to all of us. This special column is dedicated to her.

Judy always quoted Jeremiah 15:19 as the inspiration for her commitment to reuse and recycle:

If you produce something noble, out of something worthless,
You shall be MY spokesperson.

I invited some of our “Five Things Extravaganza” colleagues to submit ideas for ways we can follow Judy’s example and continue to be God’s spokespeople.

Here are their best ideas:

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