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November, 2008

Dear Hevre,
We are sure you are breathing a sigh of relief now that the holidays are over. It must have been difficult trying to establish any kind of routine with the constant interruptions. On the positive side, those who want to make significant changes in classroom routine now have a good opportunity to do so.

At this point, most of our energies (in the Alumni Support Project) are going into the upcoming reunion (see article below). We look forward to seeing most of you there.
As always, please let us know if we can be of any help (with curriculum, teaching strategies, job search, challenges in the workplace, etc.)

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 Neima Novetsky

As we start the new Torah reading cycle, the theme of blessings pops up again and again in these beginning parshiot: blessings of fish and birds,mankind,the Sabbath, Noah, Avraham, etc. What, though, is a blessing anyway?  What does it mean to bless God, to bless my neighbor, or for God to bless me?  Does the word take on the same meaning in all instances?

We tend to think of blessings in terms of either praise or thanksgiving. When one looks in Sefer Bereshit, though, interestingly, one gets a slightly different picture. The context of almost all the blessings of Sefer Bereshit are the words "peru u'revu," be fruitful and multiply.

People are being blessed with progeny. Most commentators explain the word along these lines, taking it to mean "abundance" of some sort.
Rav Soloveitchik, in an article entitled "HaBerakhot BaYahadut",discusses the issue and suggests that a berakhah, based on this usage in Tanakh, should be understood as the metaphoric ability for a male and female to meet and bear offspring. It is always connected to a "they". With every coupling, he points out, there is an influencer and an influenced, a giver and a receiver, a creator and a created - a "male" and "female". Every individual, too, has these two sides; as the midrash points out, man was created with 2 faces, as both male and female.  Every person has the ability to both give and take, to be both teacher and student. A berakhah is meriting this meeting of "male" and "female", meriting to both influence and be influenced in turn.

What, though, does this mean when applied to God? God, Creator of all, is the "male" par excellence. He is the giver, we the receiver. Yet, God at the same time, is also called The Shechinah, a Kallah, a bride.  God, at times, is also the "female", the receiver.  But how so? Rav Soloveitchik  suggests that there is one area where God, too "needs" us - the revelation of God is in our hands.  If we don't see Him, He won't be seen.  It is our duty to "bring God out."  By recognizing God in the daily events around us, by proclaiming His name before we eat, by acting in His ways, we are in effect "spreading" God.

As you start your year of teaching, I, too, bless you with this berakhah of  "peru urevu", that each of you shall always be both teacher and student, giver and receiver, influencer and influenced, and that your students shall be the same.

Retreat Reunion, November 20-23 (22-25 Cheshvan)

We are delighted that over forty alumni will be joining us at the Isabella Friedman Retreat Center, November 20-23. In addition to Pardes staff (Dr. David Bernstein, Rabbi Zvi Hirschfield, Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels, Dr. Judy Markose, Abby Rosen Finkel, and Dr. Susan Wall), we are welcoming a number of outside presenters. Dr. Lisa Lahey from Harvard University.will give a plenary session on Friday on "Effective Teaching: An Inquiry into our own Beliefs and Practices". Rabbi Joel Alter (Rabbi and Assistant Head of School at the Jewish Community Day School in Watertown, MA), Benjamin Mann (Head, Middle School and Jewish Studies Coordinator at the Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan) and Fayge Safron from the New Jewish Teacher Project will offer workshops on Sunday morning. Several of our own graduates will present sessions as well.

You will also meet Adene Sacks, our  Program Manager from the Jim Joseph Foundation, who works closely with us on our Alumni Support Project.

At the retreat there will be opportunities for sharing, study and prayer, and the screening of the film Praying with Lior. We will offer a hike on Shabbat afternoon as well as ongoing enjoyment of  the beautiful surroundings at the retreat center.

If any of those who were initially unable to attend are now able to do so, be in touch with Abby in the NY office immediately. We are looking forward to learning, sharing, reflecting, meeting new colleagues, and renewing our enthusiasm for the work we do.
PEP Corner by Dr. Judy Markose

What's New in the Pardes Educators Program?

Two new mini-courses are being offered this year in Teaching Tanakh and Teaching Rabbinics,in order to better integrate Beit Midrash and Pedagogy studies.  As part of our increased emphasis on building tefilla expertise, we have incorporated a Siddur mini-course for first year students, a D'var Torah workshop, and mentoring for each student to develop an individual tefilla learning and skill-development plan.  
Recruitment for PEP Cohort 10
PEP Alumni can help us in our recruitment efforts.  Please take a few minutes to think of one or two people that you know who are considering a career in Jewish education and would be well-suited for the Educators Program.  Judy Markose would be happy to reach out personally to the people that you recommend.  Please send her your names before December 1st.  Todah Rabbah!
Education Corner:
Chalk Talk by Dr. Susan Wall

As those of you who graduated recently (or attended the last Summer Curriculum Workshop) may know, "ChalkTalk" has become one of my favorite classroom techniques - particularly to assess students' knowledge or thoughts on a new topic.  Basically, it is a silent conversation in writing that encourages all students to participate. It is particularly beneficial for your kinesthetic learners as well as those who are less comfortable speaking up in class. It also keeps your most vocal students from once again dominating discussions. I have never seen Chalk Talk fail; in fact, it has always been quite successful.
What follows is a protocol of Chalk Talk, adapted from an article by Judi Fenton, which will provide you with more ideas.
The facilitator explains VERY BRIEFLY that Chalk Talk is a silent activity. No one may talk at all and anyone may add to the Chalk Talk as they please. The facilitator writes a relevant question in a circle on the board or on chart paper (if you prefer to keep a record of the conversation and you don't have a "Smart Board").  The facilitator places several pieces of chalk (or markers) at the board.  Students can comment on the initial question-or on subsequent comments. Decide if you want initials next to the comments, if it will help you in the follow-up. People write as they feel moved. They can read and respond to the comments of others. The facilitator may choose to totally sit back, circle or connect ideas on the board, or participate in the discussion. (I suggest you remain a facilitator and keep your comments, if any, to a bare minimum.) There are likely to be moments where not much seems to be happening-that is natural, so allow plenty of wait time before deciding it is over.
What you now do with the comments on the board is important. You may use the comments to shape your lesson plans or refer back to them in subsequent discussions.
Click here for a more detailed description and other applications of Chalk Talk.

 Focus on Seth Goldsweig (Cohort 2)

cohort 2 Seth Goldsweig My name is Seth Goldsweig and I am currently in my third year as the Hebrew Studies Curriculum Coordinator at the Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School in Toronto, Canada.  I also teach grade 5 and 7/8 Hebrew and Judaics.  Before that I spent 3 years as the grade 6 Hebrew and Judaic Studies teacher at the Cohen Hillel Academy in Marblehead,
Massachusetts. My current combined administrative and teaching role has been great as it gives me an opportunity to impact my students and the entire school community in many different realms.  As you all know, the job of a teacher is filled with challenges.  However, for me, there is nothing better than seeing a kid finally get something I've been teaching for months or seeing that spark in the eye of a student who found a new and exciting way to connect to Judaism.  It allows me to easily forget all the hard work I put in.

Over the past six years of my teaching career I have taught Hebrew, Torah, Prophets, Science, Language Arts, Social Studies and more.  Each subject has had aspects that I love and aspects that I really struggle with.  However, when I think about which subject I enjoy preparing for and teaching the most, there is no question about it-it is Tanakh.  Using ideas such as political cartoons, Facebook pages, PowerPoint presentations, brick making competitions, artistic creations, archaeology, Rashi, feminism, the list goes on and on-I have a blast trying to come up with ways to make the texts both relevant and fun for my students.  I am also really into music, nature and genealogy, and try my best to bring them into the classroom whenever possible.  If there is one thing I've learned, kids need variety.  I do my best to make sure every class is an entirely different experience from the previous one.

Enrolling in the Pardes Rimmon program and then the Educators Program was the most important decision of my life.  It was there that I met my wife, Amy Goldsweig, who is also a graduate of the Educators Program.  Having two educators in the same household became very useful for those late night, "What am I going to teach tomorrow?" freak out sessions.  All we had to do was ask each other for ideas.  It also gave us an opportunity to share our successes and failures with a spouse that totally understood what the other was going through.  I should also add that we have an adorable set of twins who will be starting day school in a few years. 

 Online Resources

*While away from your classrooms, some of you may have noticed that the
financial markets around the world are in crisis. Time magazine
thought it appropriate to ask Jewish scholars "what would the Talmud
do?"   Click here to read the article.

*Lookjed-an online educational resource through the Lookstein Center is a great resource for all kinds of information. You can receive the Lookstein Digest (Lookjed) by registering with them.  We are now members of the Lookstein Center and there is much more available to you through our membership.  For example, the highly recommended issue of Jewish Educational Leadership focusing on Spirituality  is no longer available as a hard copy but can be read on-line.  Please contact Debra for more information.

*Lookstein Podcast: "Classroom Teaching"  with Mark Smilowitz, is a weekly podcast with reflections and strategies for budding young education professionals.
Click here.

* Films and documentaries on Israel are available through Israel at 60. Click here to view what is available.
*Yeshivat Har Etzion's Virtual Bet Midrash is offering 17 free courses on a variety of levels.
You can subscribe here.

*Hartman Institute has made available additional Judaic Studies curriculum on-line. A unit on Abraham, entitled "The First Jew - A Journey Begun with a Fateful Choice." is now available just in time for parshat Lech Lecha,. Here's the link.  Click here to see this curriculum and watch for updates.

*Hemshech, (published by P'tac), is a post -primary Hebrew reading resource workbook edited by Rabbi L.Newman,  is available through Judaica World. The purpose of this workbook is to help students improve their Hebrew reading proficiency skills.

*Hidden Sparks is a non-profit fund whose purpose is to help children with learning differences reach their full potential in school and life. Hidden Sparks develops and supports professional development programs for Jewish Day Schools to help increase understanding and support for teaching to diverse learners. For more information click here. or contact: Rebecca@HiddenSparks.org.
Job Listings

Many educational institutions in North America seek PEP graduates to fill positions. If you are considering changing jobs please feel free to contact Susan or Debra for assistance. Following is a job listing we recently received:

*Oakland Hebrew Day School (OHDS)in Oakland, CA. a vibrant, innovative co-educational modern Orthodox K-8 school with excellent Judaic and General Studies programs is looking for a Director/Head of School.  Please send inquiries to Dr. Brian Kaye, Chairman of the Search Committee.

*The Mandel Center for Jewish Education of the Jewish Community Centers Association of North America is seeking qualified educators to serve as Jewish programming directors at JCC resident camps this summer. Positions will be available at JCC resident camps in California, Georgia, Maine, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Ohio and Canada. For more information or to apply, please click here  or e-mail: melanie@jcca.org
Call for Papers

Jewish Educational Leadership invites articles for the Spring 2009 issue focusing on Active Learning.

Click here for more information on the types of articles and guidelines for

writers.  You can also contact Zvi Grumet.  Submissions will be accepted until February 15, 2009. 

Alumni Update

Judith Sone (Cohort 1) on the loss of her grandmother.

Mazel Tovs:
Benny Levy (Cohort 7) and Sarah Rubinson (Cohort 9) upon their engagement.
Eric Zaff (Cohort 1) and Jillian on the birth of a son, Joshua Ezra.
Sarit Edelstein Cohen (Cohort 4) and her husband Hananiya on the birth of a son, Nehorye.
Professional Awards:
Jessica Lissy Trey
(Cohort 3) has received the prestigious JESNA-Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award for Excellence in Jewish Education.

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