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March, 2009

Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies Mail  

Pardes Educators Program Alumni Newsletter, March, 2009 Adar 5769

Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 12:10 PM

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Pardes Educators Alumni Newsletter
March, 2009-Adar 5769 

In This Issue
Dvar Torah By Deborah Jacobson-Maisels
PEP Corner
Website, Forum and Blog
Focus on Yonatan Yussman
Pardes Summer Curriculum Workshop
Educational Resources
Educational Programs
Dig the Past is a program founded by Aaron Greener. (Trudy Greener's son)
Lookstein Podcasts

Bichat Hachama
Birchat Hachama

Every 28 years the sun is said to be at full strength during the month of Nisan, precipitating the special bracha  said at this time.  This year, Birchat Hachama will be recited on Wednesday April 8, 2009-14 Nisan, 5769. Click here to read more.

Contact Us
Educator teaching


Dear Hevre, 

It is now a little over a year since we received the grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation to work with alumni. Many of you have taken advantage of and benefitted from some of our newer initiatives: the retreat, this newsletter, the website (including the forum and now
Lisa Bodziner's blog), and the topically oriented conference calls for novice alumni. Each first and second year teacher has had at least one school visit and many of you have asked for individual help/support in dealing with professional challenges.

At this point we want to reiterate to all of our graduates that the support project is meant for you, particularly to serve those who are currently working in day schools. However, we are happy to offer advice and support to any of you in the field of Jewish education or to those planning to re-enter the field.

Keep your suggestions coming, so that we can best serve your needs.
To all, a Purim of "sasone v'simha".

Kol tuv,
Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project staff:
Dr. Susan Wall, Abby Rosen Finkel, Debra Weiner-Solomont

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

Dvar Torah by Deborah Jacobson-Maisels  
Cohort 2
Debbie JM
Parshat Zachor precedes Purim due to the identification of Haman with Amalek. We are told to remember to blot out Amalek because of the evil that he did to the Jewish people. The theme of crushing and destroying our enemies is one that we address every time we say the weekday amidah, blessing God who is shover oyvim umachnia zeydim - who breaks our enemies and causes evildoers to surrender.  As we know, we are supposed to say each brachah of the amidah with kavannah, full intention. Ha'Ari, the great kabbalist Rabbi Yitzhak Luria, taught that we should find a relevant aspect of our own lives to focus on for each brachah of the amidah. For example, if we are frightened about something in our lives, we should focus on God's protection in the brachah of magen Avraham, or if we have a case we need to bring to court we should focus on justice in the brachah of hashivah shofteinu.
Similarly, the brachah of shover oyvim can be extremely pertinent to our lives. Rabbi Nosson Shapira teaches in Sefer Megaleh Amukot, another kabalistic work, that each Jew is surrounded by layers - klipot - of the yetzer harah that separate him or her from God and from his or her true self. The innermost klipah is called klipat nogah; this layer of separation can be transformed from being a power of separation and destruction to a power of good. The brachah of shover oyvim is not only about external enemies, according to Rabbi Shapira, it is a brachah about our internal enemies - the layers of yetzer harah inside ourselves. Our intention when saying this brachah should be to destroy those outer layers that separate us from God, and to identify the klipah which is actually klipat nogah, a layer that can be transformed into a vessel to ultimately bring us closer to God. This is the second half of the brachah - umachnia zeydim - causing these "evildoers" to surrender.
If we apply this mystical interpretation of our relationship to evil to our lives, we find that we have an imperative to pursue deep psychological work, to examine the parts of us that cause us to be distant from our best selves and from God. Which parts of ourselves should we understand as bad habits or dangerous patterns of behavior that are best obliterated, and which seemingly destructive parts of ourselves are in fact essentially good qualities that we can transform with correct intention to be a vehicle for closeness to God? Perhaps one of the messages of Purim and nahafochu is not the destruction of our enemies, but the lesson of transforming our inner enemies into friends and allowing this process to take us on a path to greater self acceptance and relationship with the divine

Deborah Jacobson-Maisels is currently studying in the Pardes Kollel.

Yom Iyun Shel Chesed 
The Pardes community commemorates the tragic loss of Educators Marla Bennett z"l and Ben Blutstein z"l with a day of learning and chesed.  Marla Bennett (Cohort 2) and Ben Blutstein (Cohort 3) had each spent two years studying at Pardes. On July 31, 2002, 22nd Av, 5762, Marla and Ben were murdered, along with five other Hebrew University students and employees, in the suicide bombing attack at Hebrew University.
This year's Yom Iyun Shel Chessed was held on March 3rd, 7 Adar.  Under the slogan, "improving a small corner of the world", students, faculty and staff visited elderly at the Beit Reuven nursing home, learned Torah in the Beit Midrash at Pardes with mentally challenged young people, brought a bit of "America" to the tutoring program at Yotzer Or and purchased the creative items produced by the people of Yad l'Kashish.
Yehi zichrom baruch. 

PEP Corner
By Dr. Judy Markose, Director of PEP
Pardes Educators, Cohorts 8 and 9, are currently student teaching in sixteen schools across the United States. The Educators received quite a send off from the Pardes community who organized a "PEP Rally" in their honor.  Each Educator received a small gift, which included Pepsi Max-with the slogan: PEPs teach to the MaX!!! 
 We are pleased that five of our PEP alumni will be mentoring the Educators in the field:
Jessica Lissy Trey (Cohort 3) at Hannah Senesh Community Day School, Brooklyn, NY.
Eliana Seltzer (Cohort 5) at Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island.
Evan Wolkenstein (Cohort 1) at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay, San Francisco, CA.
Amanda Pogany (Cohort 2) at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Manhattan.
Tamar Rabinowitz (Cohort 1) at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Rockville, MD.
Interest in Cohort 10 is at a peak; however, we are still accepting applications.  If you have a colleague who you think might benefit from the Educators Program, please contact Gail Kirschner.

PEP Alumni Website, Forum and Blog 
The Website was launched in December, 2008. This is the best place to go in order to keep in touch with what is happening in the PEP community.  The website's homepage has up-to- date information of what is going on during that particular month, including Pardes faculty travel schedule posted on the Google calendar, a world clock (so that you know when the best time is to reach one another) and a side bar with "click ons" to the other pages ( job listings in day schools, educational opportunities, resource materials,and archives of past newsletters). There is also a retreat link, with resource materials. (Sorry the pictures have already come down.) Soon we'll post the date and location for next November's retreat. Bookmark the web address: http://pepalumnisupport.pardes.org.il
The forum can be accessed via the website. Many of you are clearly reading and responding to the forum. If you haven't yet "joined the club" all you need to do is click onto the forum link found on the sidebar of the website.  Log in with your gmail address and you are in.  You do need a gmail address in order to access the forum.
A reminder that postings to the forum should be questions or comments around issues raised by you or your peers. This is not the place for personal notices or materials that should go on our website. Any articles that you want to share should be attached as a link. We want to avoid using a moderator for the forum, as it will slow down the turn-around time. Please help us by carefully considering what you post. If you are unsure about whether to post something, send it to Debra first. 
Finally, the newest edition to the website is Cohort 7 Lisa Bodziner's blog. Kol haKavod  to Lisa for taking this on. This is a private blog and you all should have received an invitation to read it.  If for some reason you are having trouble accessing the blog, please let Debra know.  We hope you are following Lisa's experiences in the classroom. Others can volunteer to take over the blogging at some future time.


Focus on Yonatan Yussman
Cohort 1
My name is Yonatan Yussman ('99-'00, Educators '00-'02), and I am the Head of Jewish Studies at The Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Educational Campus in Las Vegas, NV.  We are a pre-school through twelfth grade community day school, and we just opened up our brand new campus this year.  I supervise and mentor the school's fifteen Judaic Studies and Hebrew faculty.  I am in charge of experiential education such as Tefillah, Chagim, Israel trips, Shabbatonim, and so on, as well as the formal Judaic Studies and Hebrew curricula. 
Over the years, I've been a teacher and administrator in Kentucky, Israel, Georgia, and Florida. I enjoy writing Jewish studies curricula.  The Hartman Institute has published a number of my units on their website: Tarbut HaMachloket (pluralism in Judaism); Jewish denominations; Tochechah; Kibud Av v'Em; Jews and non-Jews; Kevah vs. Kavanah; Shmah; Amidah; Brachot; and a comparison of Avraham in the Sdom V'Amorah story vs. the Akeidah.  I'm happy to share anything else I have. I have developed UbD units on many of the sfarim in Tanach, as well as many of the thematic rabbinics units that are commonly taught in community day schools.
I am also in the middle of earning my doctorate in education.  My dissertation topic focuses on school culture, specifically the correlation between the quality of relationships between professional adults (teachers, staff, administrators and board) in a school, and student achievements.
My wife Lisa (Fellows '01-'02) and I have three beautiful daughters, Gefen (5 years old), Aviva (3) and Noa (1).  All three are enrolled at my school, so I have the pleasure of seeing them every day at school.  Lisa is a full-time Ima.


Bible Raps: An Education Innovation
Yael Krieger (Cohort 8)
For the past year I have been working with a very talented artist, Matt Bar - founder of the Bible Raps Project 
In March of 2008, PEP educators entered their student teaching classrooms with several of Matt Bar's Bible Raps. Equipped only with a CD, these teachers integrated the raps into their lessons and the feedback was astounding
"I played the song "Cain & Abel" for them, and it became an incredible locus of debate. The music spoke to them in a way I never could. They left class fired up and excited... It helps students see the Tanach from where they are, and to realize that its message is current."
- Samara Schwartz, Cohort 8, 8th grade classroom
We have created a Teaching Resource Guide which includes the music, lyrics, and "Rap-Maps" - graphics that indicate access points into textual learning from the rap lyrics.
The raps serve as a motivation for students to engage in the study of conventional elements of the Jewish tradition, such as exploring different commentators and engaging in text analysis. Below you can see how the Noah rap can facilitate a lesson that explores several stories in Torah along with selections from some of the key commentators. 
Bible Raps can be used as a way to introduce or supplement lessons or act as the focus for entire lessons unto themselves. Below you can see how the Akedah rap can open up an avenue for more creative exploration where students can embody the persona of the modern commentator and use the Bible Raps as an example of how to write a midrash.
If you are interested in participating in the second pilot stage, please be in touch with me
As a participant in the second pilot stage, we will ask for your engagement in a collaborative project that develops educational materials for Bible Raps in the classroom. As you begin to integrate Bible Raps into your lessons, we ask that you periodically contribute to an on-line feedback system, share with us your lesson plans, and use the Website discussion board as a forum for brainstorming creative ways to use Bible Raps in the classroom.

Pardes Summer Curriculum Workshop - Last Call!
July 14-July 28, 2009       22 Tammuz-7 Av 5769

We have 3 remaining places for non-PEP graduates on this summer's curriculum workshop program. If there are any well qualified novice teachers that you know who teach Judaic studies (grades 4-12), please tell them about the program. Urge them to check the Pardes Website, write directly to Debra for an application, or contact Abby in the New York office (212-447-4333) 

Alumni Updates 
Mazal Tovs:
Damian Zoppo (Cohort 5) and Tammy, on the birth of a daughter, Nataly Elaine.
Miriam-Simma Walfish (Cohort 6) and Michael Rosenberg on the birth of a son, Nehemia David. 
Ron Einhorn (Cohort 6) upon his engagement to Heidi Vexler.
Miriam Shamberg (Cohort 7) upon her engagement to Rabbi Jonathan Gross.
Jamie Salter (Cohort 5) upon his recent marriage in Jerusalem to Cindy Nathanson 
(Pardes 05-06, Summer, 07).
Professional News:
Keren Romm (Cohort 5) published an article entitled, The Grounding of Jewish Identity in Biblical Literacy, in the Winter Issue of the Jewish Educational Leadership Journal (Volume 7:2).  If your school does not receive the journal, the article will be available online shortly. Contact Debra for more information.
Rabbi Marc Baker (Cohort 1) published an article entitled, Jewish Identities in Process:
Religious Purposefulness in a Pluralistic School, in the Autumn, 08 issue of the RAVSAK Hayedion. 
Rabbi Mordechai Rackover (Cohort 3)  brought a Brown Hillel Birthright group to Pardes. Read about the visit on Mordechai's blog.
Lisa Bodziner (Cohort 7) was featured in the San Diego Jewish Academy upper school student newspaper.  One student said, "she brings energy and topics to the class that allow students to identify with Judaism". 
Michal Cahlon (Cohort 5) will be bringing her 8th grade class from Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, Overland Park, KS to Pardes for Megillah reading.
Thanks to everyone for sending me updated contact information. Please keep me posted about changes of address (home, email) moving jobs etc. 
We are sorry if we missed something. Please help us by sending in your news!



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