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Education

This August we are raising an apple to our educators. As the back-to-school sales reach a crescendo (but before we start dipping our apples in honey for Rosh Hashanah), we are focusing on the experience of Jewish education. Education has always been a cornerstone of Jewish culture and religion, although girls and women had to fight to get the same opportunities as their brothers.

Women were actively involved in education from the first years of Jewish life in America. Over 350 years later, teachers continue to inspire students in day and supplementary schools, in pre-b'nai mitzvah and confirmation classes, in seminaries and yeshivas. During August, we are calling on educators to share their lesson plans, their surprising stories, their triumphs, and, yes, their failures. We will learn along side of them as we reflect on what it means to be the people of the book.

Guess What's Being Taught in my Sunday School Class?

A few weeks ago, on the Sunday before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I posed a question to the students in my class on "Jews and the Civil Rights Movement": "If you could plan a Jewish commemoration for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, what would it be? Who would be the audience? What would you do? Why should Jews, as Jews and in Jewish communities, commemorate this holiday?"

How I Came to My Table

I was seated at one of those grand, heavy, deep brown mahogany tables in a beautiful room with two walls of windows. To my left, sat my mother, visiting for a few days from Los Angeles. Then to my right, and all the way around the table sat 10 classmates and my professor. We were talking about my favorite topic: How do you do good?

“Thinking Inside the Box”: Framing My Grandmother’s Life

I had never taken the time to learn much about my grandmother, Esther Rebeca Leibowich de Bortz’s past. While I knew that something in her history must have gone right—she became a renowned gynecologist in Argentina—large gaps existed between each of the detailed but disconnected anecdotes that she recounted to me over the years.

My grandmother—or Bobe as I call her—and I have never lived in the same country. She was born in Argentina and has lived there for her entire life, while I was born in Chile and have lived in Atlanta for most of mine. With each of her visits, I learn more about this woman I have always been taught to revere, but in truth never knew much about. Consequently, I welcomed the opportunity to take the course, “Jewish Women in Modern America,” at The Weber School in Atlanta, where I am a junior.

Staking Claim: What I Learned From All This Jabber about the Pew study

A few months after I started working at the Jewish Women’s Archive, I was taking the last bus home from a raucous karaoke night on the other side of town. Being from the Midwest originally (read: overly friendly), it was only natural that I strike up a conversation with the bus driver. As our conversation roamed from the weather to current labor issues in the MBTA, I shared a story with him about Rose Schneiderman, a Jewish woman labor activist who had I had been researching for a work-related project. The conversation was so lively I missed my stop and had to walk four extra blocks home.

When I think about that night, I remember the pride that I felt about sharing part of Jewish history with this guy, and how grateful I was that my Jewish identity was giving me a lens through which to connect with others (even non-Jews!) and understand complicated issues in my community.

50 Years On: 5 Things I Learned About the March on Washington

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the March tomorrow, I would like to share 5 things I have learned about the March on Washington that you may not already know—one for each decade. I hope you’ll take this opportunity to check your assumptions and look more closely at this monumental, game-changing event.

Dayenu. Dayenu. Dayenu.

This past year, I took a group of seven teens on a tour of the American South. The trip was inspired by my desire to infuse young people with a sense of history and context as it relates to Judaism in the South and Jews in the Civil Rights Movement.

We began in Atlanta, then drove to Alabama, stopping in Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, and many places in between. We met with people who had lived through segregation and fought against it. We saw the Rosa Parks Museum, experienced history, and talked about what it means to be an American Jew from the Northeast.

Summer & the Educator

Somehow summer has flown by—it’s August 19, which pretty much came out of nowhere. If you're anything like me, summer started with grand plans and lofty ambitions. The pages in the calendar stretched on and on, and great adventures were planned for sometime later this summer. And, somehow… summer is coming to a screeching, halting stop.

Dear Wendy

When I was 15 years old, I was about to go on vacation with my grandparents and I needed a book. I picked up a collection of three of your plays (The Heidi Chronicles, Uncommon Women and Others, & Isn't It Romantic) that I’d been assigned to read for my ninth grade English class, but never gotten around to studying. I didn’t know anything about you or the plays before opening the book, but I was soon transported to a world of women who didn’t necessarily know exactly what they wanted out of their educations, careers, and relationships, but did know they wanted a great deal. Suffice to say, it greatly appealed to me.

Laughing Until I Cried: Hebrew school

I will never forget that our really serious, really smart, really devout rabbi came to our class one day and talked with us about the idea of God.  The part I'll never forget was when he said, "It's OK if you don't believe in God.  Sometimes I don't, either."  Since about ten years later I came to identify as an atheist Jew, I think that statement rang in the halls of my consciousness for years afterwards.

That “Aha” Moment

Every child deserves the right to learn. Every Jewish child deserves to have a Jewish education. Every teacher should have the opportunity to watch a child have that “aha” moment. Every child deserves to learn without having any stumbling blocks in his or her path and as a teacher, it is my pleasure, to ensure that there are never any in stumbling blocks in the way.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Education." (Viewed on July 23, 2014) <http://jwa.org/blog/education>.

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This discussion is sorely needed. Is citing a health-related reason for being on bc a positive thing? http://t.co/Ye0jaOGR3e @LenaDunham
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Today in 1902, first female doctoral graduate of University of Berlin Elsa Neumann died. http://t.co/tbRWEn44Ph #TWIH