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.

Dear Wendy

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Wendy Wasserstein

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

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Jewish Education 3 - still image [media]

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

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Jewish Education 1 - still image [media]

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.

Women and Tallit

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Tallit @ NewCAJE

Why do some women wear Tallit? Why shouldn’t women wear Tallit? What’s the big deal?

If you’re like me, you probably haven’t spent a lot of time pondering these questions. As someone who falls somewhere outside of regular observance, a tallit, or prayer shawl, isn’t usually on the forefront of my thoughts.  (Even defining a tallit required a quick search of myjewishlearning.com.)

Last week I was lucky enough to join hundreds of Jewish educators at NewCAJE, a peer led conference that brings together educators from all walks of Jewish life. One of the highlights of my time at the conference was attending a session led by Ronni Ticker  entitled “Women of the Wall- What’s the Big Deal?”

Girl Rising

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Girl Rising

Abby Mohr lives a stone's throw away from Boston, but her take on education is global. Barely even in her teenage years, and she cares deeply about making sure girls all over the world can get an education. “I really like school,” she says. “Boys get to go to school all over the world, and girls should too.” Most teenagers probably do not realize just how lucky they are to be educated, but Abby is not one of them.

Stop Teaching Students That Sexual Assault Is a Potential Consequence of Drinking

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Leah Berkenwald Wins Rockower Award 2011

Probably the only thing better than reading a thought provoking piece in a major publication is realizing it was penned by a colleague. Leah Berkenwald, the former editor of our blog, wrote a fantastic article about sexual assault and responsibility. Her message veers away from the traditional, and unfortunate, message of placing blame on women who drink too much and open themselves up for violence, and instead asks the reader to think about the sexual culture of college campuses. Today Leah is the Wellness Education Coordinator at Wentworth Institute of Technology, where she is implementing an original bystander intervention campaign to prevent sexual assault called "Be a WIThero."

Heartsick

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As the words of Eicha echo in my ears and the tune gets stuck in my head, I think about how next summer we will still be lamenting same historical tragedies. The crusades and the inquisition and the Holocaust and the siege of Jerusalem all still will have happened. But additional tragedies, of children going to bed and waking up and going to bed again still hungry, of brains not being fed by education, and of bodies forced to bear children they do not want or cannot take care of, are still ahead of us.
 

Sosúa: Make a Better World

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Sousa

The young actors learn about each other’s cultures (through a Passover seder, Spanish lessons, and more) while learning about themselves. I am constantly amazed by the power of theatre, even after experiencing it personally throughout my education. Watching Liz Swados and her production team interact with the teens reminded me of all the incredible teachers and directors I had the pleasure of working with in high school and college. Theatre gave me self-confidence and taught me the importance of community, and it’s clear that the teens involved in Sosúa learned the same.  This fascinating movie provides great insight into the magic of theater as well as into a little known aspect of Shoah history.

Jewish Women in Modern America: Lessons to Live By

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Alex Estroff Shadow Box

Last semester, I was one of four boys in a course at The Weber School dedicated to Jewish women in modern America—a group of people who have had great impact on our lives. However, this group has received little of the public recognition it deserves and is vastly underrepresented in traditional history classes. Like most other American high school students, I have spent the bulk of my academic career studying Christian men from Europe. No wonder that I knew little or nothing about these remarkable women. Yet learning about them is only one reason why this course was so enlightening.

Nothing to Fear Here, It’s Just a Little Feminism

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Desks for Feminism in Academia
Feminist Fist

After five years of functioning within the pseudo-reality of “Big A” Academia, I often ponder questions of identity formation and self-understanding.

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Rising Voices

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