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May 2012

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The Jim Joseph Foundation

Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project  

Newsletter  May 2012 / Sivan  5772  

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Dear Hevre,


We are sending along our final newsletter of the school year. We hope that for all of you, these last few weeks will provide opportunities to bring closure to your teaching, to help your students recognize all that they have learned, and to reflect on what you accomplished and what you wished you had accomplished. We trust that the summer will give you time to rest up and return rejuvenated to your schools. For those of you working in other capacities, we hope you will get a bit of a summer vacation as well.


There is much to read about in this newsletter. Please do take the time to read through carefully and respond as requested. There are quite a number of valuable links to the retreat, for both those who attended and those who were unable to join us.  


Our staff will be working through the summer and we hope to continue to serve your needs. Keep in touch and let us know how we can help.


Hag Shavuot sameach,2011 shavuot 


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 - Reuven Margrett  (Cohort 6)   

Reuven is in his third year of teaching high school at the Frankel Jewish Academy of Metropolitan Detroit. Prior to that, Reuven taught at the Immanuel College in England. 

The pedagogical phrase that I have heard the most is, "Just because you taught it, does not mean that students have learned it." I too have said it to others, and yes I too have experienced it in the classroom as well as in my life.


What makes something have an affect on you? I have heard many shiurim, been to many classes, and had many hours of being "taught". Yet what makes me an effective learner in order for the learning to have an impact on me?


To put it another way. If Shavuot is zman matan torateinu, the time our Torah was given, what is it that turns 'the Torah', into 'our Torah'?


It says in Yeshayahu 55:1, "Ho! All who thirst, go to the water... " which is very good advice for both now, as well as in a future time when it tells us that there will be water to quench our thirst. We also know that our tradition tells us that 'ein mayim ela torah' (there is no water except for Torah). This means that the real source of life is Torah. The parallel to water and Torah is made more profound by the Evian website which says that 'Water is life', which we would translate to 'Torah is life'. (Did you know that each day, an average adult naturally loses 2.5 to 3 liters of water under normal conditions?)  


Click here to read Reuven's dvar torah. 





Education Corner

Amanda Pogany

This year a group of our veteran alumni embarked on an exciting project on how to use havruta more effectively in our classrooms, led by Dr. Orit Kent from the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University.  We gathered at Brandeis for a two day workshop in which we were introduced to research based frameworks for havruta learning, including six core practices of havruta.

Since then, we have been translating these ideas into our classrooms.  We have been working on developing havruta lessons and study guides for our students that will help them deepen their havruta work and we've met monthly to share and reflect on our work and videos from our classrooms.  In the upcoming year, we look forward to sharing many of our 'take-aways' with you.  Below are some reflections by the participants.  We hope that our reflections will inspire your thinking on this important topic.

2010.09.01 Yom Kippur
Participants in the first phase of the project were: Evan Wolkenstein (1), Haley Delugach (5) and Tamar Rabinowitz (1), Jewish Community High School of the Bay; Jessica Lissy Trey (3) Hannah Senesh; Keren Romm (5) CHAT; Michal Cahlon (5) Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy; Seth Goldsweig (2) and Hana Macmull, Robbins Hebrew Academy; Elisha Stein (4) Barrack Hebrew Academy.   


Reflections on Havruta

We began the year by observing our students working in havruta. What follows are some of our insights.   

  Click here to read more. 



Strengthening the Network: A Data Bank of what we've taught 


 In both the written feedback and the final group meetings at the retreat, there was a strong request for information on courses that our graduates have taught, so that we can be more helpful to one another, as we prepare for our teaching. In the earlier years we did provide lists by age groups and also by subjects taught and we'd like to do so again. HOWEVER, WE NEED YOUR HELP FOR THIS TO WORK. The data bank will only be useful if most people submit courses they've taught. It takes about one minute to actually enter the data for each course and grade level you've taught. (For our more senior alumni, the trick will be remembering all the courses you have taught.)


The form will need to be submitted multiple times-one course one submission. The instructions for submitting appear at the top of the form. Please read the instructions carefully so that you do it properly and we can use your data.  


We ask that even if you are no longer in the classroom, you fill these forms out. For example, when we are looking to hire a subject matter coach for our new graduates, we look to see who might have taught similar materials before. In general, you never know when this information might be helpful to you or your colleagues. Click here to start your submissions.


Similarly, a couple of weeks ago, we sent you contact information for all those who have gone through the program, so you can contact people directly. If the information we sent out was not accurate in your case, let Debra know. Before the year begins, we would like to send out an updated, corrected list.




From the Field


Drew Cohen, cohort 10, at The Weber School in Atlanta, was teaching his high school Talmud class, Perek Hamafkid, much of which is about ownership of animals.  To help the students personally engage in the material and visualize what was happening, he used a stuffed penguin (in place of a cow). In giving scenarios of who owns the animal under what circumstances, Drew used the students' real names, throwing the penguin around as they talked through the examples, as follows: "If Ben owns the penguin, Rachel borrowed the penguin from Ben, Joseph rented the penguin from Rachel, and the penguin died, who pays whom?"  The students were totally engaged and got it. It's a reminder to all of us, that finding even simple ways to connect the students with the material goes a long way.    


Robyn Miller, cohort 9 at the Eleanor Kolitz Academy in San Antonio, TX works with the pluralistic track's tefilah, for K-8. She found that tefillot were constantly being disrupted when students called out, "what page are we on?"  She laminated 'Siddur marks' (rather than "book marks') for each siddur which had the names and page numbers of each prayer. The students could follow along more independently and Tefillah flowed more smoothly.


Joey Heyman, cohort 9, at The Weber School in Atlanta starts off her class by reciting together the phrase from the daily morning service "ותן בליבינו להבין ולהסכיל, ללמוד וללמד, לשמור ולעשות ולקיים את כל דברי תלמוד תורתיך באהבה". A high school student is constantly moving from one subject to another all day, and it's nice to have a moment to clear the head, acknowledge the purpose of this particular subject, and move from an "אני פה" to a "הנני".









Know of any Day School Postions Available in your Community? 

A few of our current graduates and a number of our alumni are looking for teaching positions for the coming year. If you know of any that might be available in your school or community, please be in touch with Debra immediately with the name of the contact person at the school, so we can pass this information along. It is also helpful for us to know the grade level, if the position involves "ivrit b'ivrit, and whether there is a requirement that the teacher be "shomer Shabbat". Thanks for supporting your colleagues!





Spring Retreat Roundup 

Any of the 58 educators who joined us for our alumni retreat March 22-26 at the Pearlstone Retreat and Conference Center outside of Baltimore, will tell you what a special opportunity it was to: re-engage with colleagues and teachers, reflect on our profession, and return to our institutions with new ideas and approaches to try. Both for those who were in attendance and those who were unable to make it, you can access:


  • a video of the plenary given by Rabbi Zvi Hirschfield entitled: The 'Avodah' of Jewish Education see description below.)
  • Excerpts from the opening of the retreat, including a moving presentation by representatives of each cohort and Susan Wall's opening words regarding the future of our alumni support project as PEP moves into the next decade.
  • Materials from the various sessions.
  • Click here to view a smattering of photos. (Forgive us if you were there and do not appear.)  

Note that the video of Zvi's session is an inspiring master class dealing with the Pardes vision for what it takes to make an excellent Jewish Studies teacher. It Outlines practical guidelines based on Pardes's core values of centrality of text, openness, community, and diversity and - of course - deeply rooted in classical Jewish sources, Zvi explored the character of Moshe as a model of the consummate Torah teacher and offered thoughts on the extent to which one should emulate the Jewish people's greatest educator. 

Please click here to access the video. Click here for sources to this session. 







Focus on Sarah Zollman  (Cohort 7) 


Sarah is in her fourth year of teaching and continues to commute to Carmel Academy in Greenwich, CT from her home on the Upper West Side in New York City, where she lives with her husband Avi. She usually teaches with shoes on, but remains barefoot on the streets of New York.


On the small white board at the front of my classroom, homework assignments are written every day on the bottom, while the top has the Hebrew and English date and the parsha. These days, the top half of the board is also crowded in with the Omer count and the number of days left in the school year. My fourth year at Carmel Academy is winding down. 


When I started working at Carmel (then WFHA) after completing the Educators Program, I was disappointed to learn that I would be primarily teaching fifth grade, when I had my heart set on middle school. And every year since I have primarily been the fifth grade Judaics teacher while also teaching an assortment of other grades. What started as slight disappointment has turned into love. I love my fifth graders, their silly jokes and their growing maturity. I love watching their blossoming sense of injustice, whether focused on teachers, parents, or characters in the chumash. I love watching them try to fit Adon Olam into the latest pop song and asking if they can rap their Mishnah projects. 


 Click here to read more. 


PEP News


Mazal tov! The ten members of PEP's eleventh cohort will be graduating on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Click here  for more details. If you will be in Israel at that time, please join us to celebrate this milestone for the newest members of our alumni community.


Cohort 11 graduates have already found teaching positions at: the Chicagoland Jewish High School, the Solomon Schechter of Long Island, and the Solomon Schechter of Bergen County (in conjunction with Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake as the Nadiv Educator).


Finally, we'd like to welcome the five incoming Pardes Educators of Cohort 13: Cara Abrams Simonton from Eugene, OR; Naomi Zaslow from Miami, FL (and currently a Pardes Year Program student); Laura Marder from Sewell, NJ (and currently a mechina student at Pardes) ; Jeff Amshalem, currently from Jerusalem; and Tani Cohen-Fraade from New Haven, CT (and currently living on Kibbutz Yahel). These five, along with Cohort 12 and students in the new one-year PEP offshoots, will comprise a diverse and exciting group. We wish them all the best of luck!   





Educational Publications, Resources and Opportunities

Cheryl Stone (Cohort 11) has recommended Israel's national library site, which contains a host of valuable online e-resources and a digital library. Click here.


David Bernstein has recommended Shorashim, a free online compilation of almost 3300 Hebrew verb root entries, in English. It can be found here.  A reformatted version of the  Soncino Talmud, as well as other resources can be found on this site as well.


Dah Bear, on online tool to assist students in mastering hebrew vocabulary has now been redesigned for use by teachers.Click here.   


The Cairo Geniza online catalogue, based upon the printed catalogue of the Hebrew manuscripts in the Bodleian libraries can be accessed here.      


The David Project Summer 2012 Teacher Training Institutes will be held July 16-July 19 in Boston. This program is supported by the AVI CHAI Foundation. Click here for more information. Stephanie Hoffman (Cohort 6) works at the David Project.  Click here for details.    


Ulpan Or will be conducting enrichment workshops for Hebrew teachers.  Click here for details. 


The article, "Flight from Conversation" was recently published in the New York Times Magazine. It is an important read to help give you insight into your students and communication skills. Also recently published in the New York Times is another article about social media rules for New York City teachers. Click here to read it.  





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Alumni Update

Professional news:


In the last newsletter we inadvertently left out Keren Romm (Cohort 5) who has also served as a mentor to PEP student teachers.


Personal News

Mazal Tov to:


Amy Martin (Cohort 10) on her engagement to Yosi Cirlin (Pardes 2009-10, Fellow 2010-11). 


Donna Rudolph (Cohort 6) and husband Ari on the birth of a daughter, Noa Chana. Mazal tov to big brother, Eitan.


Bradley Bernstein (Cohort 9) and wife, Aviva. on the birth of a boy. 



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