Home‎ > ‎Newsletters‎ > ‎

January 2012

Pardes Logo

The Jim Joseph Foundation

Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project  

Newsletter January 2012/ Shvat  5772  

jumbled letters green

Dear Hevre,


If we go by the "School of Shammai", the 1st of Shevat already heralds new beginnings, which mirror the many new starts within our alumni support project that we report on in this newsletter.  For one, we assured our newest teachers that the challenges of year one would abate somewhat  in January - so we hope they are feeling a bit less overwhelmed.  In addition, we have reports on our new initiatives (see the articles on havruta and tefilah below) and the announcement regarding our new Pardes Center for Jewish Educators. Our first"spring retreat" will be held March 23-26. We hope you learn from the educational ideas and resources in this issue, and enjoy the personal updates from your colleagues.  


Kol tuv,

Susan, Amanda, Debra


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

The Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project is funded by a generous grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation.


Dvar Torah - Tamar Rabinowitz   (Cohort 1)   

Tamar  taught middle and high school for 7 years at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Rockville, MD. She is currently in her 3rd year of teaching at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay in San Francisco. Tamar has mentored new teachers and Pardes and DeLeT student teachers. She co-directed the Summer Curriculum Workshop during the summers 2009 and 2010 and will be the director of the workshop for the summer of 2012.

Tamar R 

I have been a Tanakh educator now for close to 11 years. If someone were to ask me to identify the enduring understanding that comes from my reading of Torah, I would  probably say the following: "Seeing every human being as a representation of God is an expectation that God has of us."   


I had the honor of delivering the Dvar Torah at two of my friends' wedding in D.C. This wedding was a joyous, traditional and exuberant event, much like many of the weddings I attend, with one difference. It was a wedding of two men, officiated by an openly gay Orthodox rabbi. The ritual was traditional, thoughtful in its changes and celebrated their love both for one another and for Jewish community and ritual. The rabbi also officiated as a Justice of the Peace and declared them married in accordance with the laws of D.C. So as you can imagine, this wedding was also historic on a number of levels.  


They married the weekend of parashat Vayera. I could not really ask for anything more than this rich, complex and perplexing parsha to sink my teeth into. In one of the most famous scenes in the Bible, chapters 18, Abraham is sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day when three strangers pass by. He urges them to rest and take some food. They are in fact angels, coming to tell Sarah that she will have a child. The chapter seems simple, but nothing really is in Torah. It actually is quite complex and ambiguous. It seems to consist of three sections:


Verse 1: G-d appears to Abraham.

Verses 2-16: Abraham and the men/angels.

Verses 17-33: The dialogue between G-d and Abraham about the fate of Sodom.


Click here to read Tamar's Dvar Torah.       


 Alumni Retreat  March 22-262012     

 Keep Your Calendars Clear


We are looking forward to seeing you at the retreat Friday March 22nd - Monday March 26th at the Pearlstone Conference and Retreat Center outside of Baltimore, MD.   


We are working on a final schedule and we will post it on the Retreat Website in early February. In addition to workshops for day school teachers, there will be sessions for  non-day school educators, novice administrators and those considering administration.Participants will have an opportunity to work collaboratively on a variety of topics. We look forward to spending meaningful time together as we experience a Pardes Shabbat with colleagues and Pardes teachers.


If you have not already done so, please register asap. The deadline for registration is           February 1, 2012
Please click here  to access the Retreat Website which includes the registration form as well as other important information about the retreat.   Pearlstone Logo  

Tefilah Action Research Findings 

Ten Pardes Educator alumni participated in an action research project in the area of tefilah in their schools in the Spring of 2011.Simply put, action research is learning by doing. Tefilah was chosen, as it is, without a doubt, one of the key challenges in day schools. Each of our researchers told a similar story (of attempts to engage students who are generally disengaged with formal jewish prayer). Half of the research was done in middle schools (grades 5-8) and half in high schools. Our researchers included: Deborah Anstandig, Moshe Fisch, Sean Herstein, Scott Kaplan, Shifra Kaufman, Sarah Margles, Reuven Margrett, Yonatan Rosner, Aron Wolgel and Sarah Zollman.   


The participants learned a great deal from their individual research. We have taken their insights and pulled out common findings helpful to the day school field. While some of the findings may initially appear obvious, they are not - or schools would not be structuring tefilah the way they do. We would like to offer another opportunity to continue these projects or fund new action research in tefilah in 2012-2013. If you are interested, contact Susan.  Siddur


Click here to read the summary report.    


New Initiatives: Havruta Project 

We have eight veteran alumni participating in our exciting new initiative which explores the use of Havruta in the middle and high school classrooms.  In early December, the group met at Brandeis University for a workshop with Orit Kent and Allison Cook, the leaders for this project.  Time was spent reflecting on the use of havruta in our classrooms, and exploring what Orit refers to as "the three pairs of core practices: listening and articulating; wondering and focusing; and supporting and challenging". The group will be developing and implementing content for their classrooms integrating these practices. Participants conduct monthly phone meetings  to share videos and reflect with one another. The  in-person learning will continue at the alumni retreat. We look forward to having the participants share the findings with our network in the coming months.  




Education Corner by Amanda Pogany     

Using Scaffolding Effectively


Often, the ultimate goal in our classrooms is to appear to be obsolete: for our students to complete a task and demonstrate skill acquisition independent of us.  One of the challenges in the classroom is the pace at which students achieve this independence.  Some get there quickly, some take a little longer, and for some independence is simply not a reasonable expectation.  That is where scaffolding comes in.  


Scaffolded instruction is "the systematic sequencing of prompted content, materials, tasks, and teacher and peer support to optimize learning".1 Designing lessons and planning units with scaffolding, allows you to slowly remove the supports you provide as students are ready to do more on their own.  The key elements to the scaffolding are putting several steps in place to support the students in accomplishing the task independently and ASSESSING where the students are after each step to see when they are ready for the removal of a component of the scaffold.  Remember, removing scaffolding is a gradual process and will happen at different paces for different students.  


When starting to design a unit, think about the steps you need to take to learn the material.  For each of those steps, design a plan to teach your students the skill, to allow them to practice the skill and to support the acquisition of the skill.   


Click here to read the entire article. 






1(Dickson, S. V., Chard, D. J., & Simmons, D. C. (1993). An integrated reading/writing curriculum: A focus on scaffolding. LD Forum, 18(4), 12-16.)
From the Field

 A model of differentiation and student empowerment - Shifra Kaufman (Cohort 8) 


 In her 5th grade class at the Primary Day School of the Nation's Capital, Shifra's students focus on a skill-related goal of their choice each month during their Bible studies. They choose from a list of 4 goals - phonetic decoding, vocabulary, improving their Hebrew writing, or translating. This empowers them to take more ownership over their skill development. As they prepare the Biblical verses, those who work on decoding sound out the Hebrew words. Those who work on vocabulary look up the meaning of each word they don't know, etc. Afterward, each student contributes from what they had prepared when they review the psukim together as a class in preparation for their class discussion. 






Focus on Joey Heyman (Cohort 9) 

Joey is in her first year of teaching at Weber School, Atlanta, GA. She previously taught at the Greenfield Hebrew Academy in Atlanta for one year. 

Often, I think in TV quotes.
Anytime someone says "move," or "get out of the way", I hear Joey on Friends yelling at the coastguard "get out of the WAY". If someone is referencing something they're not sure I'll recognize, I hear Karen on Will and Grace nodding and saying "uh huh, uh huh, I'm familiar." And whenever I find out that I was right about something, I hear Chandler (also from Friends) coming out from behind a closed door and yelling "I KNEEEEW IT!"  About one month into my first year of teaching, I had the ultimate Chandler moment.
I had gone 15 days of school without wearing the same outfit twice.  One morning, I had a question posed to me in my classroom "Parking Lot" asking "how long I could go without re-wearing anything?" Cut to later that afternoon after school last year, the girls' volleyball team had late practice so they would sit in my classroom with me and do homework until practice started at 5:15.  M*, the girl who had written the parking lot question, was among this group, so while we were all together she asked me if I'd answer the question in person (generally I write the response and post it on the back wall.) I told her "I don't know how long I can go, but it's been over 3 weeks so far so let's see how it goes."  She then has her own Chandler moment, and runs out of the room to grab her friend J* to tell her. The two come back into the room with a sheet of paper.
They had been tracking my outfits since the first week of school. They had a chart.

Click here  to read more. 

The New Center for Jewish Educators 

In addition to the array of new training programs available for educators (see PEP corner below), our new Center will offer professional development opportunities (workshops, retreats,ongoing consultation, etc.)in North America for day schools, and/ora variety of informal educational institutions (camp, synagogue, JCC and Hillel educators).

Being Pardes, whatever we do will involve reflection,text study, meaningmaking, respect for diversity, research and applied practice.We have been doing exciting preliminary work in the areas of tefilah education and different approaches to teaching text. This coming  school year we will be piloting a few projects in select communities. We are looking to our more senior alumni to help staff these programs.

We'd love to hear from you about working in your community!
.  Please be in touch with Susan for more informaiton.




PEP News


We hope you've had a chance to take a few moments to familiarize yourselves with the new educator training programs being offered, (along with "PEP Classic"), as part of the newly launched Pardes Center for Jewish Educators:


The Pardes Educators Program - Accelerated Track is a one-year program designed for experienced teachers or advanced graduate candidates looking for the opportunity to refresh or enrich text skills, re-prioritize teaching goals, or expand their professional role in a Jewish day school, and who are prepared to make a minimum two-year commitment to teaching Jewish Studies in a day school.


Teachers for Jewish America, a NEW offshoot of the Pardes Educators Program, is a one-year program designed for participants interested in exploring Jewish education and teaching for one or two years in a Jewish day school in a smaller North American Jewish community, without a long-term career commitment.


Masters in Jewish Education Plus Pardes (MAPP), a NEW offshoot of the Pardes Educators Program, is a one-year text enrichment program for formal or experiential Jewish educators entering, pursuing, or just completing a Masters in Jewish Education (or related field).  


Pardes Year Program students may participate in the NEW Jewish Educators Track (JET), a semester-long track at Pardes intended for individuals interested in exploring the field of Jewish education.

Might you have a friend, colleague, or relative who comes to mind when hearing about these new programs? Please take another moment to make contact and get them in touch with us here at the PCJE.  


As always, todah rabah!




North American Jewish Day School Conference 2012

This year's North American Day School Conference was held in Atlanta, GA. Many of the PEP alumni attended the conference from a range of cohorts including: Marc Baker and Yonatan Yussman (Cohort 1), Stephanie Hoffman, Reuven Margett and Jen Truboff (Cohort 6), Samara Schwartz (Cohort 8) and Kelly and Drew Cohen (Cohort 10). Susan Wall and Amanda Pogany were in attendance as well.

Susan Wall, Yonatan Yussman and Amanda Pogany presented a workshop entitled: Tefilah: The "Vietnam" of Jewish Day Schools?

Marc Baker was chosen to do an ELI talk (fashioned after the TED talk format) on behalf of AVI CHAI, to illuminate the ideals and commitments of Jewish literacy, religious engagement, peoplehood and love of Israel.

Digital materials from many of the sessions may be found online.

NA Day School conference




Summer Curriculum Workshop 2012

Dates for the Summer Curriculum Workshop for Novice Day School Teachers is scheduled for July 10-July 24, 2012, for those who have completed years one and two of teaching. The first packet of information will be sent out in February.




Educational Publications, Resources and Opportunities

You may have missed out on some great educational ideas or helpful websites that were featured in earlier newsletters. We try not to repeat, so if you are a more recent graduate, you definitely want to view earlier education corners and educational resources. You can glance through previous editions as all of our newsletters are archived on our PEASP Website: http://pepalumni.pardes.org.il 


PEASP has renewed the subscription to the online library through Spertus College.  Please contact Debra to obtain the new login information. We are also  members of the Lookstein Center, so ask Debra for that log information as well. You will be able to access articles from the Lookstein journal among many other benefits.


The PEASP Forum has generated discussion on different topics and has been a place for colleagues to share resources. Nechama Malkiel (Cohort 10) shared an online Tanakh resource which includes trope.  Another online resource which has been popular among our graduates is Mechon Mamre. If you have not registered to be a member of the forum please contact Debra.  


Dr. Tzvika Kanarek of Lipshitz College, Jerusalem has developed Cognitive Maps for use when teaching Talmud using a SMARTboard. Click here for more information. 


Jerwish Women's Archives 2012 Institute for Educators will take place from July 22-26, 2012 in Waltham, MA.   


The MOFET Institute is offering a number of online courses for teachers. The next semester begins March 4, 2012. Click here for details.     


Damian Zoppo, (Cohort 5) has been volunteering for Beit Hatefusot's My Family Story Project.          Click here to learn about the project and how you and your students can participate.


Nili Auerbach (Cohort 6) recommends contacting Connections Israel wihich partners schools with IDF units. They are now embarking on a Purim project. Click here for details.  


Birthright is sponsoring a Teacher Trek and has extended the ages to 18-29.  Registration will open in February for two weeks only. Click here for details.


Nadiv has openings for summer and year round positions. Click here for information about this program as well as other employment opportunities on our website.  





 Ed links





Alumni Update

Professional news:


Marc Baker (Cohort 1)  was the recipient of the Covenant Foundation's New Pomegranate Prize for Educators.


Personal News


Condolences to:


Stef Jadd Susnow (Cohort 8) and her husband Matt Susnow (Pardes 06-07) on the loss of his father.


Bradley Bernstein (Cohort 10) and his wife, Aviva Cohen, on the loss of her sister.   


Drew Cohen (Cohort 10) on the loss of his grandfather.


 May they and their families be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.   



Mazal Tov to:


Jamie Salter (Cohort 5) and Cindy Nathanson (Pardes 05-06, Summer 07) on the birth of a son, Yair Shlomo. Mazal Tov to brother, Noam Binyamin.

Miriam Shamberg Gross (Cohort 7) and Rabbi Jonathan Gross on the birth of a daughter,  Zoey Shayna. Mazal Tov to sister, Raya Liba.

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