On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss
I read this book several months before the whole measles thing broke and brought this topic bubbling to the surface. The New York Times had recommended it as one of the 10 best books of 2014 (New York Times, December 4, 2014) and for an avid non-fiction reader such as me, their short blurb made it very appealing.
Joel Lurie Grishaver
If we are going to look at the future of Jewish Education, at some point we are going to have to stop talking about technique and look at the content.
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.