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November, 2009

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Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project November/Kislev Newsletter
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The Jim Joseph Foundation
Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project Newsletter
November 2009  Kislev 5770
Dear Hevre,
We are still on a high after the fabulous retreat held at Barrack Academy, Bryn Mawr PA. October 29-November 1st with forty-seven graduates and five staff members in attendance. Read more below. 
This newsletter contains many interesting and important articles, but two specifically need your immediate attention:
  • The website is undergoing  changes in response to your suggestions.  See 'Website: A Work in Progress' and learn how you can help us to make this happen. 
  • Those involved in tefilah in their day schools should be sure to read the newsletter box entitled, 'Tefilah Action Research'. We hope you will want to join our project.
Finally, on a personal note, I (Susan) just returned from visiting sixteen of our graduates in seven different cities. You have a great deal to learn from one another as was evident at the retreat. Use the tools of our project to connect to one another.

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

The Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project is funded by a generous grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation.
Dvar Torah - Ben Soloway  (Cohort 5)
The parshiyot at this time of year offer an insight into the ongoing challenge of how to give over information and communicate effectively according to the needs of our audience. In Parshat Toldot, after Rivkah has already been informed that she is carrying twins and of their future, the Torah makes a surprising move. The pasuk states: "The days of her pregnancy were fulfilled and behold there were twins in her stomach". In Hebrew the verse ends v'hinei tomim b'vitnah. V'hinei often denotes a change of perspective or a note of shock or wonder. The previous pasuk told the reader and Rivkah that she was carrying twins. So for whom was this new information? That only leaves Yitzhak. If we read 'v'hinei' as from his perspective, denoting his surprise discovery, the rather troubling conclusion seems to be that Rivkah and Yitzhak never spoke about the message she received from Hashem about her pregnancy. Indeed, throughout the whole tale of the Bechorah, Rivkah and Yitzhak barely share a word. With Rivkah and Yitzhak working alone and at crossed purposes - apparently unable or unwilling to communicate effectively to one another - the story descends into trickery, deceit and years of bitter consequences.
In his adult life, Yaakov over-compensates for his parents inability to communicate.  He does a lot of talking, but he often does not attempt to make his message appropriate for his audience. When Pharoah welcomes him warmly to Egypt, Yaakov's response is that his "years have been short and bitter". Later, he tells his children from his deathbed precisely what he wants them to hear - with no apparent regard for the effect.   

Yaakov's son, Yosef (as an adult), acts differently from both his father and grandfather.  His behavior is all the more remarkable and courageous given the fact that when confronted by his brothers begging for food we might have forgiven Yosef for allowing his desire for revenge to over-power his inclination to teach an effective and lasting lesson. Whilst the process Yosef puts his brothers through is an elaborate one, his pedagogical instincts were sound.  Despite the emotional temptation to be honest earlier, he persisted until his educational goals were achieved.  Yosef places his brothers in situations which help them appreciate the consequences of their malicious past.  It is only once Yehudah pleads on behalf of his framed brother, Binyamin, showing empathy, responsibility and sympathy towards him and their father, that Yosef, feeling the lesson he set out to teach has been internalized, reveals his true identity.

The Torah seems very aware of the challenges and possible pit-falls of finding a way to successfully get our message across.  May we all be blessed to have the courage, patience and skill to be inspired by the example of Yosef, who taught a difficult lesson when it would have been far easier not to.

Chag Urim Sameach 
Ben taught at Lerner Day School, Durham, N.C. and Hannah Senesh School, Brooklyn, NY before making aliya. He currently lives in Jerusalem.

PEP Alumni Fall Retreat: A Great Success!

The retreat was in short "amazing". For the staff it was such a high to see what had developed from the initial vision and early years of the program. It was pure nachus to look around the room at so many graduates, now educators, making a difference in classrooms throughout North America. 
 For the Pardes Educators Program alumni, the highlights were many:
·  Reconnecting with colleagues and faculty and meeting other alumni
·  Exchanging ideas
·  Seeing the growth of the program and talents of colleagues
·  Receiving chizuk and  inspiration
·  Networking and talking shop with those who understand
·  Davening with people who like to daven
·  Watching master teachers from the program  
·  Taking pointers from workshops and feeling "I can do it"
·  Being back with people who deeply care and see teaching as holy work
Even the food and location received high marks.
By the end of December we hope to have photos and notes from workshops posted on the website under Retreat 2009. Thanks to all of those who served on the planning and ritual committees, as well as those who gave sessions. We were grateful that so many of you were able to take the time from work to be there. Your presence and your contributions made the retreat. And finally, a sincere thanks to The Jim Joseph Foundation for funding this retreat and all the other elements of the Alumni Support Project.
Online Learning with Levi and Neima
Levi CooperLevi Cooper 's online learning on Parshat Hashavuah using the commentary of The NETZIV is well underway.  You can find the weekly guide and sourcesheets on the website. You can also receive them directly to your inbox; just send Debra an email requesting this.  We would greatly appreciate your feedback.
If you have not had a chance to look at  Neima Novetsky's  study guide and resources to the Book of Jonah or listen to her podcast  you can still do so.
You can also be in touch with Levi and Neima to discuss the online learning with them. Click here to be a part of the discussion forum.
Tefilah Action Research

At the retreat, Yonatan Yussman (Cohort 1) led a session on tefilah in day schools. Dr. Saul Wachs joined the session as a resource person. The session began by compiling the ideal elements of what we want to see in tefilah in our day schools and then proceeded to identify the stumbling blocks that interfere with the ideal.
The goal of the workshop was to lay the groundwork for an action research project in tefilah to include many of the schools in which our graduates work. We hope to compile a good deal of important information as to what currently exists and to introduce small experiments in at least 10 different schools to document what impact these changes might have on the prayer experience for our students.
If you were at the session and indicated your interest in the project, you can expect to hear from Yonatan or Susan by mid-December. If you were unable to be at that session and are interested in participating in the action research, contact Susan. We believe this will be a major contribution to the field.
Save the Date! Summer Curriculum Workshop 2010
This year's Summer Curriculm Workshop is scheduled for July 7 - 22, 2010 / 25 Tammuz - 11 Av, 5770. We look forward to having graduates of Cohorts 7 and 8 join us along with other novice Judaic studies teachers who will be teaching during the 2010-2011 school year.
Please forward the flyer to your colleagues.  A reminder to those in Cohorts 7 and 8, please complete the participation form you were sent as soon as possible.
Focus on Stephanie Hoffman (Cohort 6)
 Stephanie Hoffman
Listening to other people speak about their high school experiences, I have learned that high school was a true burden for many people. I had the good fortune of learning from enthusiastic teachers who inspired me and who brought the material to life.  These teachers helped to instill a love of Judaism in me that I want to help pass along to today's Jewish youth.

I now teach Talmud and am the Director of Jewish Student Life at the Frankel Jewish Academy of Metropolitan Detroit. I still joke with Susan and Zvi H. about how stubborn I was when I discussed my career path with them. I entered PEP saying that I wanted to teach Rabbinics in a community high school.  Susan and Zvi spent a year and a half trying to convince me that I should open myself up to the possibility of teaching Tanakh, or even teaching a different grade level (you never know what kind of jobs will be available).  I feel lucky and grateful to have the opportunity to share my passion for Talmud with my high school students on a daily basis.  Observing my students working b'chevruta, taking part in the process of dissecting the gemara, is both exciting and gratifying.

I said before that my high school experience was pivotal in my love of Judaism.  My teachers not only brought the material to life in the classroom, but they also modeled Judaism as a joyful way of life.  As Director of Jewish Student Life, I have the opportunity to bring this way of life to my students.  By celebrating the rhythm of the Jewish calendar through holiday programming, sharing Shabbatot with students during school Shabbatonim, and planning and running our Senior Israel Trip, I get to engage the students in this way of life, helping them to experience both the celebrations and commemmorations central to Jewish life and culture.  I get to nurture their leadership skills and help them create meaningful experiences for themselves.

I regularly tell people that I have one of the best jobs because I get to work with students both inside and outside of the classroom; I see lightbulbs go off when students grasp a difficult text and I kvell when students run a successful school-wide holiday program.  I am grateful to my teachers for igniting this spark in me and I hope to be successful enough to touch even one student the way my teachers touched me.
Stephanie was a member of the first graduating class of The Weber School (formerly The New Jewish High School), Atlanta, GA. She is currently in her third year of teaching at The Frankel Jewish Academy, West Bloomfield, MI.
Education Corner -  Jessie Mallor (Cohort 7)
Jessie MallorPintroductions: Using Images to Create and Shape Thematic Discussions 
Pintroductions is a trigger activity using uncaptioned pictures, focused on exploring major themes in text. I developed it because I was teaching a book - Sefer Yonah - that my students were totally prepared to be bored by:  "Ms. Mallor, we've studied it for seven years already!" My approach to the unit was to show them a different level of Yonah than they'd seen before, and have them focus on the universal, eternal, and completely human themes of refusal, disobedience, teshuva, responsibility, etc.

Focusing on Sefer Yonah Perek Aleph, I used Google Images and www.biblical-art.com to find pictures, which I then simply cut and copied into a Powerpoint document. I organized the pictures in order from the beginning of the chapter to the end.  It took me about 30 minutes to google for pictures and assemble them into the finished Powerpoint. In all, I had about 16 slides.

I printed out the Powerpoint into a packet and asked the students to tell me what they thought was going on in each picture. They worked in chevruta for about 10 minutes, and then we began a class discussion on each slide. As they talked about what they saw, I took notes on the board. That way, students could see the core themes of the chapter developing and were able to identify new dimensions for us to explore. This framed our subsequent study of the text, which they were now excited to pursue. 
Pintroductions can be used with any age group, subject or topic. In terms of applying it to your classroom, you might begin by thinking about the enduring understandings or major themes in whatever it is you are teaching. For example, if you were teaching Baba Metzia 2:1, you might want your students to ultimately understand that announcing the finding of lost property is a way of ensuring trust, or creating bonds of justice, or responsibility, etc. You could create a Pintroduction aimed at those themes, and perhaps enable your students to recognize that while they might be studying a mishna, they are also talking about how to create a just society.

Added Benefits
1. Pintroductions reinforced my students' overall retention of concepts and even vocabulary; any idea or word that was connected to a Pintroduction had, at the unit test three weeks later, about a 95% retention rate.  The events of Perek Aleph were much clearer to them than were the events of subsequent chapters.
2. I found that as I put the activity together, I had a chance to investigate the text from a new perspective myself.                                                        
Jessie Mallor is in her second year of teaching Middle and High School at the San Diego Jewish Academy. Jessie presented a workshop on Pintroductions at the Fall Retreat. For more information you can contact Jessie.
PEP News
 Educator teaching
We're excited about the smooth integration of Cohort 10 - our largest ever PEP cohort, with 17 students! What does our new cohort look like? You can see 13 of them in the photo. It includes 8 Pardes students, 2 day school teachers, 2 students with MAs, 1 supplementary school head, 1 right out of college, 7 married and 3 moms.

New to PEP: Pedagogic coaches 
Four experienced teachers have joined our staff to work with the Educators individually and in small groups. The coaches advise the students on preparing, teaching, and revising model lessons for their PEP colleagues. They also facilitate monthly chavurot, in which they discuss important educational issues - in and out of the classroom. Some coaches will travel to the U.S. and observe the Educators in their student teaching placements.
PEP Recruitment for Cohort 11 starting in September 2010 has begun!
Please take a minute to think of even one person that you can recommend to apply for the Educators Program. Send your name to Judy Markose and write a brief note to your friend/colleague telling them about your experiences at Pardes. We're counting on you.  Todah Rabbah!

 The Website: A Work in Progress
In response to your needs we have begun reworking the Pardes Educators Alumni Support Website with a greater emphasis on sharing curricular materials in a way that you can easily access and search. We plan to have a phone conversation to get your input and advice on what is most effective. The call is scheduled for Sunday, December 6 at 12:00 Noon EST, 9:00 AM Pacific. Contact Debrato let her know that you are interested in participating and to get the dial-in information. 
The Job Opportunities page now has separate pages for teaching, administration and summer educational job opportunities. In addition, the positions indicate the denominations of the institution. We hope this will be more helpful and user friendly.     
Theforum and blog are accessible only to our alumni.
You do need a Gmail account in order to have access. If you are having trouble getting onto either of these please let
Debra know. Shifra Kaufman (Cohort 8) has joined  Lisa Bodziner (Cohort 7) writing the blog  which is a great read!
Educational Resources and Opportunities
We have joined the Spertus College E-Library for our alumni. The Feinberg E-Collection contains the full-text to nearly 16,000 books and 25,000 articles in the area of Jewish studies. Please contact Debra for more information. A reminder that we are also a member of the Lookstein Center e-Community. You need the username and password for both of these resources.
Other resources:
1. JPS will feature free podcasts of the weekly Torah readings all year long on its website: http://www.jewishpub.org/books/audiobible/. The JPS Tanakh is now available in audible format.
3. Legacy Heritage Smart Board Project is pleased to announce the availability of the Smart Board Jewish Educational Database (SJED) to teachers and educators throughout the Jewish educational world. Please go to www.legacyheritage.org and follow the link to SJED.
4. English Hebrew by Subject (EHBS) is recommended by Debbie Jacobson-Maisels (Cohort 2) whose friend, Claire Perets developed this resource. EHBS is a comprehensive topic dictionary with nouns, adjectives and verbs in all major subjects (including food, house, health, sports, tourism, family, music, politics, economy, basic grammar and much, much more). With a user-friendly format and free audio CD, learning Hebrew is fast, easy and effective!
5. Recommended by Amanda Pogany (Cohort 2). MediaMidrash is an exciting new venture in Jewish education technology. They are currently looking for testers to field test the site in various educational settings. For more information please e-mail  Charlie Schwartz.  
6. Pardes Faculty member, Judy Klitsner has written a new bookSubversive Sequels in the Bible: How Biblical Stories Mine and Undermine Each Other, published by JPS is now available. Judy will be the scholar in residence at Lincoln Square Synagogue, New York, NY December 18-19.
Alumni Updates
Mazal Tovs:

Debbie Jacobson Maisels (Cohort 2) and James Jacobson Maisels on the birth of a daughter, Ella Hannah Levya.

Marc and Jill Baker (Cohort 1)
on the birth of a daughter, Alanna.

Saskia Swenson Moss (Cohort 3)
and Yoni Moss on the birth of a daughter, Heleni Ma'ayan.

Jessica Lissy Trey (Cohort 3)
and Jeffrey Trey on the birth of a daughter, Noemi Ariela.

Hot off the press...
Ris Golden (Cohort 8) on her engagement to Dan Sieradski! 
Professional News:                                                                                                         
Etan Weiss (Cohort 5) on receiving a Professional Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions to the field of Jewish Education from the Partnership of Jewish Life and Learning.
Lisa Bodziner (Cohort 7) received a Jewish Pedagogic Award for educators at the Back to School Night at the San Diego Jewish Academy. 
Joti Levy (Cohort 3) is the Program Director of Willie Brown Academy Garden, a large school garden in an under-served community in San Francisco. Click
here to learn more.

Thanks to everyone for sending us updated contact information.  Please keep us 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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