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January, 2011

Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project January/Shvat Newsletter

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The Jim Joseph Foundation
Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project Newsletter  
 January 2011/ Shvat 5771

Dear Hevre,

Not only is January that month that falls after the "big winter break", but it is often the time - especially for our newest teachers - that teaching begins to click. One realizes that half the year is gone, and that one actually does know something about being a teacher. With that often comes a renewed sense of energy in moving forward with the curriculum.   

In the Alumni Support Project, we also feel that push to move ahead. Summer Curriculum Workshop is around the corner, and we already need to reserve a time for next year's retreat! Our tefilah action research project has taken off with a dozen participants (see article below) and we are planning the next "new initiative" project for our more veteran graduates. Amanda, Susan and David are making additional trips to visit alumni in their schools. 


Please be sure to read the newsletter in its entirety. There are a number of important announcements, and the Education Corner focuses on graphic organizers - which was not covered in your pre-service training here at Pardes. Here is an opportunity to expand your repertoire with a technique critical for all ages.            2011.1.11 Tu bshvat


Kol tuv,

Susan, Amanda, Debra

Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project staff:
Dr. Susan Wall, Amanda Pogany, M.A.,
Debra Weiner-Solomont, MSW 

The Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project is funded by a generous grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation.
Dvar Torah - Evan Wolkenstein (Cohort 1)

Evan has been teaching at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay, San Francisco, CA since 2006.  In addition to teaching, Evan is the Director of Experiential Education. Evan previously taught at Gann Academy and The Weber School.


The Joy of the Future

 I'm spending the weekend with a friend, a stay-at-home dad. His wife is away, leading a local Jewish Congregation, and we are confined to the home. He washes loads of 2011.18.1 Evanclothing. He nudges his daughter to turn off the television and use the crafts basket. He feeds the baby "beek" (which, I've learned, means "grapes"), and insists, with a stern expression, that "beek" does not belong on the floor. I watch and write. My friend is creative and independent and struggles with his burdens like any man would, and though he is not the international rock legend he once dreamed of being, he's still sculpting a masterpiece: working always, advising often, recording sometimes, and being a father, 24/7.


The Jewish calendar during this month brings us an important message about parenting. First, we meet Moshe Rabbeinu's father-in-law, Yitro. Yitro unites Moshe with his wife and children; he'd been caring for family, during the dangerous days of the pre-Exodus. Yitro greets his son-in-law warmly, and after seeing Moshe's techniques in national leadership, instructs plainly: "The thing you are doing is not right. You will surely wear yourself out, and these people as well. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. " (Shemot 18:17-18).


Click here to read the entire dvar torah



Education Corner by Amanda Pogany

Graphic Organizers


Definition: 1. A visual organizer such as a map, web, chart, or diagram that shows 
               2. A tool used to arrange thoughts and ideas in an orderly fashion.

One of the biggest challenges we face in the classroom is keeping our student's focus and attention, both during class discussions and during class work time.  It is hard for students of any age to focus for long periods of time, especially if they are only being asked to listen.  While some students are oral learners, very few can actually retain the information that they hear without doing something else with it.  Random facts are quickly lost. However, the brain's ability to store pictures is unlimited. Since the brain likes to chunk information, the graphic organizer complements the way the brain naturally works.  Graphic organizers help students organize and retain information, and

most importantly from a classroom management perspective- they also help students focus. 

 Graphic organizers

Click here to read the entire article.


From the Field

The "perfect" metaphor. Joey Heyman (Cohort 9) was teaching her 7th grade Mishnah class at Greenfield Hebrew Academy in Atlanta. In trying to explain Tosefta, she referred to them as the film clips that were deleted from the film/left on the floor of the editing room.

Seeing's believing. Ariel Wolgel (Cohort 7)  uses a lot of visuals with her 6th grade Mishnah class at Hillel Academy in Farmington Hills, MI. To give the students a better sense of what m'kalkelin b'reshut harabim (Bava Kama 3:3) meant, Ariel used several pictures (courtesy of Google Images) that showed littering in a public place. To teach them how littering or leaving animal droppings in reshut harabim (also Bava Kama 3:3) can affect a community, the students watched a news clip about the lack of clean drinking water in Haiti. During a lesson on Avot, in order to help them understand the Mishnah's view on who is considered wealthy, she showed a video of Alice the oldest living Holocaust survivor who says that she is the richest person in the world because she appreciates what she has.
 from the field


Highlights of learning. Reuven Margrett  (cohort 6) has a wall of his classroom at The Frankel Academy in Detroit dedicated to highlights of the students' Talmudic learning thus far. It is exciting (even for high school students) to see the number of topics on the wall expand as the year progresses. We too often 'lose sight of the forest for the trees', and this type of visual prompt reminds our students that they are actually making progress.


Summer Curriculum Workshop July 19-August 2

We are still accepting applications for The New Pardes Summer Curriculum Workshop Fellowship Program. This summer we will have five non-PEP fellows who will study alongside our novice teachers. Click
here for information to share with your colleagues.  As this newsletter goes to print we only have one space remaining.


We invite all our graduates of Cohorts 8 and 9 (and any others who are entering their second or third year in the classroom) to join us. Please be in touch with Debra.

Focus on David Harris-Gershon (Cohort 2)

Profile of a "Missing" Day School Teacher


Name:           David Harris-Gershon

Cohort:            2

Backround:    Upon completion of the Pardes Educators Program in 2003, Mr.

                    Harris-Gershon (referred to as Mr. H.G.) moved to Washington, DC,

                    where he taught middle school and high school for three years at the

                    Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School. Reports indicate that he thrived at

                    this school, crafting experiential learning models, such as FBI agencies

                    for textual explorations and publishing simulations for the creation of


Missing:        At some point in 2006, Mr. H.G. went missing, disappearing from public

                    view.He may have moved his family to the coast of North Carolina, writing 

                    and taking creative writing classes, though none of this has been   

                    confirmed and Mr. H.G. appears to no longer be there.

Sightings:       Recently, reports have come in that Mr. H.G. has resurfaced in the Jewish

                    teaching world, at a local day school in Pittsburgh. Sources claim he may  

                    be attempting to teach fourth and fifth graders. (Attempting being the  

                    operative word.)

Contact:          If you spot Mr. H.G., contact Pardes or Avi Chai and confirm for them  

                    that Mr. H.G. has returned to the day school classroom. 



David currently lives in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife, Jamie

(Cohort 2) and their two children, Mayan and Tali. David teaches at the Community Day School of Pittsburgh.


New Initiatives

We are working to create new opportunities for our more experienced educators.  Each year we hope to begin an initiative in a specific area of our work as educators, providing a stipend for those involved.  This year we have begun our Tefilah Action Research initiative in which we have 12 graduates participating.  We will continue to update you on our progress and will be prepared to present our insights into the field of Tefilah in day schools in the fall.

 New initiatives

We are beginning to think about an initiative for next year.  If you have ideas for a topic, please be in touch with Amanda



PEP News

Over the past few months we've been asking, "Have you given a PEP talk lately?" Well, your alma mater is getting better all the time... so here are six new reasons to give a PEP talk!

  1. Model lessons have undergone a sophisticated upgrade! Now known as PEER TEACHING, Pardes Educators get the chance to craft lesson plans with the help of their teaching coaches, teach the other Educators 3-4 times a year, and analyze and revise their work, while building a collegial community of peers.
  2. Since this past summer, ULPAN OR has taken on the Hebrew language instruction for the Pardes Educators. With small groups, cutting-edge curriculum, and personally customized classes, the Educators are learning Hebrew at the "speed of light!"
  3. Spring 2011 - all new ISRAEL EDUCATION TRAINING COURSE, including a  review of key issues relevant to Israel and to the Israel-Arab conflict, with a view to using these insights and ideas in the classroom.
  4. Spring 2011 - new Hebrew College course on TECHNOLOGY AND JEWISH EDUCATION IN DAY SCHOOLS, which will survey 21st-century technology for the Jewish Studies classroom.
  5. Fall 2011 - new and improved ELEMENTARY SCHOOL EDUCATION TRACK, with emphasis on Hebrew language, pedagogy for younger children and creative arts, as well as the well-known Pardes beit midrash learning.
  6. Fall 2011 - an ACCELERATED ONE-YEAR TRACK for applicants at high levels of text study, Hebrew and educational experience.Model Lesson

  Feel free to be in touch with Judy or Gail, regarding any questions you have about these exciting new developments, and keep the changes in mind when you think about friends or acquaintances who might be interested in the program. As always, todah rabah!


Day School Conference in Los Angeles


The Second Annual Joint Day School Conference will be held in Los Angeles, from February 6-8, 2011. The Institute for University-School Partnership, RAVSAK, the Schechter Association and PARDeS will co-sponsor the event.


David Bernstein, Judy Markose, Amanda Pogany and Susan Wall will be attending the conference. In addition to networking on behalf of our graduates, the staff will be meeting with groups of school heads and Judaic Studies directors to

Day school conference

discuss the future needs of the field, in order to further envision the future of PEP. Please let us know if:

  1. You would like us to network for you for job possibilities.
  2. You will be attending the conference, so we can be sure to invite you to an alumni get together.

Educational Publications, Resources and Opportunities

Check our website for a document entitled: Alternatives to Frontal Teaching.

The Jewish Day School Standards and Benchmarks Project is currently recruiting outstanding day schools for its seventh cohort for the 2011-2012 academic school year.  For more information please contact Charlotte Abramson.


The David Project is pleased to announce two upcoming Teacher Training Institutes: Understanding the Arab-Israeli Conflict and Israel in Jewish Identity.  For more information please contact Stephanie Hoffman (Cohort 6)


The Ramban (Nachmanides) is available online, and as part of Mikranet's

Mikraot Gedolot.

The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary has recently made available

digitized diaries of Mordecai Kaplan, written between 1913 and 1972.

The National Library of Israel has also digitized Hebrew manuscripts from institutions around the world (post-dating the Dead Sea Scrolls). You can find them either through the Digital Scriptorium  or through the Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts. For more information about other resources at the library click here.

Free primary sources and resources are available here.

William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education and the Department of Hebrew Language at JTS are offering a unique opportunity from June 27-July 22, 2011 for 15 qualified day school teachers to enter a Hebrew immersion program geared for teaching Judaic studies in grades K-12.Click here for more information and an application.


Ptil Tekhelet is putting together a special Partners in Innovation program, designed to bring exciting learning opportunities to the U.S. Please contact Joel Gruberman for more information.


Faculty Member, Levi Cooper, was recently appointed as Contributing Editor of the Lookstein Educational Leadership Journal.  You can read his latest article entitled:

Technology Replacing Upgrading Teachers here. (You may need the Lookstein log-in information to read it.)


Call for papers for the next Educational Leadership Journal. Click here for details.

The Lookstein Center is now on Facebook.  Click like and you will receive periodic updates.

Many of you have been enjoying the Spertus College E-Library and the Lookstein Center e-Community.

The Feinberg E-Collection contains the full-text of nearly 16,000 books and 25,000 articles in the area of Jewish studies. Please be in touch with Debra for the user-name and password for both of these resources. Check the website for additional educational resources.   


Alumni Updates

Professional News:


Jory Stillman (Cohort 1) and Adam Tilove (Cohort 6) were each awarded a
2011 PresenTense Fellowship.


Shifra Kaufman (Cohort 8) wrote an article entitled: Torah on the Right Side of the Brain. The article appears in the Fall 2010 issue of the Jewish Education Leadership Journal.


 Personal News: 

 Condolences to: Sarah Levy (Cohort 9) on the loss of her mother, Chaya Batya bat Sarah.

May Sarah and her family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.


Mazal tov:


Donna Rudolph (Cohort 6)  and her husband, Ari, on the birth of a son, Eitan Daniel.

Benjamin Levy (Cohort 8)
and his wife, Meredith, on the birth of a daughter,Zahava Yafit. 


Miriam Simma Walfish (Cohort 6) and her husband, Michael Rosenberg,on the birth of a daughter, Adira Hana. Mazal tov to big brother, Nehemia David. 


Judith Sone (Cohort 1) upon her engagement to Luke Whitmore (Pardes 00-01, Fellow 01-02) 


We are sorry if we missed something. Please help us by sending in your news!



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