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March, 2011


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The Jim Joseph Foundation
Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project Newsletter  
March 2011/ Adar Bet 5771

Dear Hevre,

Last month, David Bernstein, Judy Markose, Amanda Pogany and Susan Wall attended the Second Annual Joint Day School Conference in Los Angeles. In addition to attending sessions and meeting with colleagues, the staff facilitated a number of focus groups for school heads and directors of Jewish studies. This was meant to assess what PEP has provided to the field and to look toward meeting the future needs of day schools in our training of teachers. The discussions were learning opportunities for us, but we wanted to share with you the unsolicited rave reviews we heard about the type of teachers PEP trains.


The administrators were effusive in their praise of our graduates as to the depth of knowledge, passion for Jewish life and Jewish studies and commitment to making a difference in the lives of the students. Thanks to all of you for providing us with more

"nachus moments."


There are a number of important/interesting articles in this newsletter - so do read on. We particularly want to call your attention to our save the date for next year's retreat and to our education corner that can help you to make the most of your chevruta time. Of course you want to read Sophie Rapoport's (Cohort 8) dvar torah and our focus on Scott Kaplan (Cohort 7). In short, read it all!


We wish you a fun-filled Purim. (For those of you who follow Susan Wall's "wall costumes" this year she is going as a "Wall-mart" store.)

 2011 Purim        

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 - Sophie Rapoport (Cohort 8)   
Sophie has been teaching at the A.J. Heschel High School in Manhattan since 2009.   

Parashat Parah, the third of four special Parshiot read between Pesach and Purim, explains the complex rituals that enable Bnei Yisrael to become ritually purified after contact with death. At first glance, it seems to function as a lead-in to Pesach. In order for Israelites to fully participate in the sacrificial reliving of Yetziat Mitzraim, they must purify themselves.

However, a Braita brought in Megillah 30a rules that Parashat Parah should be read on the Shabbat immediately following Purim. This indicates a deep connection between Purim and Parashat Parah, and also suggests that Purim is part of the spiritual preparation for Pesach, rather than just a natural reminder to begin Pesach cleaning.

One way of understanding this connection emerges from Rava's statement in Shabbat 88a: "[...] the Jews accepted the Torah in the time of Ahashverosh, as it is written 'The Jews accepted and received' (Esther 9:27) that is, they accepted that which they had received previously (i.e. at Sinai)." This Midrash situates Purim not as part of the preparation for the Korban Pesach, but as a fulfillment of the Exodus narrative.


Click here to read the entire dvar torah.


Save the Date - Alumni Retreat 2012!     


We are excited to announce that our retreat for the coming year has been scheduled for  March 22-26, 2012, at the Pearlstone Retreat Center outside of Baltimore. While the main focus will be on day schools, our 2012 retreat will be open to all of our graduates (in good standing) and will include some sessions that will be useful to people in other areas of Jewish education. Having the conference in the spring is a shift in tradition for us, but one we decided to try as a resonse to a number of alumni who felt that this was an easier time to be away from their schools. We are committed to supporting our newest teachers early in the year and will be gathering them in some capacity in the fall in addition to the retreat.

We have already contacted a number of schools where multiple graduates teach, in order to avoid scheduling conflicts. Given that your school calendars for the coming year are probably still somewhat flexible, you might want to register your request now that the school not schedule a program that would negate your being able to attend.

Finally, in an effort to meet the needs of all of our alumni, we will try a "staggered approach" to the weekend, so that those in the first years of teaching will join us on Thursday afternoon and stay through lunch on Sunday. Our more veteran alumni will arrive on Friday afternoon and stay through lunch on Monday.  This will allow us to provide programming geared toward the needs of our different groups, while at the same time, having sufficient overlap to strengthen and make the most out of our alumni community.

We look forward to seeing you then!    Pearlstone Retreat Center  

Education Corner by Amanda Pogany    
Chevruta vs. Group Discussion: Determining the "Value Added"


Scenario: We send students into chevruta with worksheets to fill in and questions to answer.Then we bring them back together, and we proceed to review as a class, all the questions they just answered with their chevruta. They get bored, act out, drift off and we lose our class. And why shouldn't they be bored? They just did the exact same thing with their chevruta. They may also begin to think, "you don't need to work hard at this since we'll go over it all together anyway."


It should not be automatic that every single component of chevruta work gets discussed as a whole class. All questions and ideas are not equal and do not necessarily require or support lengthy discussion. It is often not necessary to go back and read the entire section of text together as a class.  


An important question that we need to ask ourselves when preparing the review/discussion component of our lesson:


What is the "value added" to discussing this question/idea as a group?


After you prepare your worksheet or chevruta guide, go through and anticipate which pieces will be for class discussion.  Remember you may need to be flexible; sometimes students struggle with pieces that we didn't anticipate, and vice versa.


Click here to read the entire article. Chevruta


Program Evaluation Feedback      

Since the summer, almost half of our graduates were interviewed either by Dr. Ezra Kopelowitz or his colleague Stephen Markowitz, who serve as part of the Jim Joseph Foundation-appointed evaluation team looking at our alumni support program. Phase 1 of their research is now complete and we are so grateful for the insights they have provided which will lay the groundwork for our future work. In the next month or so we will share with you some of the many interesting findings from their report. We thank all of you who so graciously gave ofEvaluation report your time. We hope you will continue to do so if you are asked to participate in the next phases of the research.

Focus on Scott Kaplan (Cohort 7)

 Shalom Aleichem!

I write this with a knot in my stomach.  I'll tell you about that in a minute.

In the last three years since graduating with Cohort 7, I have been privileged to teach Judaics and Hebrew at the Emery/Weiner School in Houston, Texas - a 6 through 12 community school.  In my first year I taught 8th grade, and for the last two years I have been teaching 6th grade.

Emery/Weiner is a young institution, and it has been exciting to be a part of a school that is actively and openly working to determine and develop its particular culture, hashkafa, and curriculum. This year, we introduced an in-depth study of the Siddur as a new element of the sixth grade curriculum. This has helped to ground sixth grade Judaics in more text-based learning, and it has been a real highlight for me to see the students working in their Siddurim and using text skills to make meaning out of the words. It has also shown me that the Siddur is a text that can be studied, analyzed and mined for meaning as much as a perek from Mishna or Tanakh.

Another exciting development at school this year has been a redesigning of our Shabbat programming.  We noticed that Kabbalat Shabbat in our middle school was almost entirely led by us, the faculty, and we shared the concern that students were not engaged. One of my colleagues came up with a plan involving sitting the students in smaller groups, and now they make Shabbat on their own, taking turns sayinScottg the blessings over candles, kiddush, and Hamotzi.  Each time we do Shabbat in this new format, we see further improvements that we can make, but already the atmosphere on Friday has begun to change.

Click here to read the entire article.



Your Ideas for our Next Innovation Project?     


By the end of April, we are going to decide on another innovation project to address the needs of our more experienced alumni. This year we have been working on the Tefilah Action Research Project. If you have exciting ideas for projects that can both impact the field and the professional development of our experienced teachers (years three and uInnovationsp), send Amanda a short paragraph describing your thoughts by April 3rd. This need not be a formal proposal, but rather an idea that could help generate further thought.



PEP Alumni Support Project Employment Update       


Thanks to those of you who responded so promptly to the employm2011.13.3 Questionairreent questionnaire we sent out last week.  For those of you who have not yet responded, please take a few moments and click here to respond.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to be in touch with Debra.  



PEP News

There's been buzz about our new One-Year Accelerated Track, and people are beginning to ask: For whom is this track intended?  


The One-Year Accelerated Track is meant for:

  1. An already established teacher who never really had the chance to study in a Beit Midrash - maybe even a General Studies teacher who would like to try their hand at Jewish Studies; or
  2. A Jewish Studies teacher who is looking for enrichment - to deepen their text study skills and content knowledge; or
  3. A teacher who would like to go back to school for a Masters in Jewish Education (note: the MJEd will not fit into one year of study, but such a student could start their Masters during the One-Year Accelerated Track program); or
  4.  A teacher who has been working in a small town and loves the idea of a year of study and living in the vibrant atmosphere of Pardes in Jerusalem

A potential candidate for the One-Year Accelerated Track would either have education training and experience and is looking to strengthen their text and Hebrew levels, OR s/he would have a very strong Judaics foundation, and could benefit from the Masters degree and the time at Pardes.


Do any of these profiles remind you of someone? Do you have a friend, colleague, relative, acquaintance who might fit the bill?  

 PEP teaching

If so, please drop a note to Gail. As always, todah rabah!


And a final note: Our student teachers are off! Twenty-two Educators have begun their student teaching in the New York and New Jersey areas, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Detroit and Toronto. We wish them all the best of luck, and the best of experiences!


Educational Publications, Resources and Opportunities  
In light of the recent disaster in Japan and responses to troubling events in Israel, the Lookstein Center has a number of resources available for teachers to use in the classroom.

The New York Times recently published an article on the recent (re)discovery of Techelet. You can read it here.

Are you looking for some last minute Purim ideas in the classroom? The Lookstein website provides a number of activities and lesson plans. Click here.

Rabbi Shlomo Horowitz of Jewish Crossroads has recently launched a new program called Jewish Soundscapes. Click here to listen to his podcast on the 1861 slavery debate.

There are excellent resources for curricular materials prepared in Israel that can be helpful for all teachers, especially those who work in Hebrew-speaking environments with their students.  One of them is the Dapim La-me'ayein-Ve-la-moreh (Study Guides for the Student and Teacher) published by Herzog College. Read the review of the material in the Jewish Educational Leadership Journal.  


Click here for some great Tanakh online resources (in Hebrew).


We received a request for assistance from a PhD candidate in Education and Jewish Studies, at NYU. If you can, take a few moments to complete a survey on where and how midrashic and aggadic texts are being taught in various denominational settings.


DeLeT Summer Institute, July 11-15, 2011. Click here for more information.


Many of you have been enjoying the Spertus College E-Library and the Lookstein Center e-C2011.13.3 online resourcesommunity.

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:  

Yonatan Yussman (Cohort 1) was recently awarded a Doctorate in Education. His dissertation is entitled: Prayer in Jewish Community High Schools: Generation Y Jews in an Era of Unlimited Choices. Mazal Tov!


Personal News:
Yonatan Rosner (Cohort 7)
and Jessica on the birth of a daughter, Shiloh Mor.
Mazal tov to big sister and brother, Avriella and Ness.

Debra Weiner-Solomont and Jay Solomont on the birth of a grandson, Akiva Avraham. Parents are Yehuda (some of you may remember him as the registrar for a few months) and Sarah Solomont.


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



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