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November, 2012

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The Jim Joseph Foundation

Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project  

Newsletter - November 2012 / Heshvan 5773   

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Dear Hevre,


It seems like most of you had just settled into "normal weeks" when Hurricane Sandy sSandytruck. We hope that you are all safe and unharmed, and that by now school has resumed. Please read through the newsletter carefully, as there is a good deal that should be of interest to you both personally and professionally-and you want to be sure to sign up in a timely fashion for the applicable professional development options. Note that some of these in-service programs could pertain to your (non-PEP graduate) colleagues as well, so be sure to share that information with them.


A number of you may already have been contacted by Benjamin Cohen, who is our new administrative assistant for PEASP, working out of our New York office. We welcome Ben to the team. Please contact Ben to update any information (a new mail address, phone number, announcement, etc.) so we can keep keep our records current.


Happy Thanksgiving!


Kol tuv,

Susan, Ilana and Ben






Dvar Torah - Benny Levy  (Cohort 7)   

Benny is in his third year of teaching at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Rockville, MD. He lives in Silver Spring MD. with his wife Sarah (Cohort 9), who also teaches at CESJDS, and their two children.

Benny and Sarah Levy

We celebrated Simchat Torah not long ago. One of the customs of the holiday is to call all children under Bnai Mitzvah age to the Torah in order to include them in the happiness of ending the cycle of the Torah. This year, as I had done in the past, I stood under the tallit (though this year I stood with the newest addition to my family: my daughter born two months prior). Standing there, so close to the Torah, in the presence of other members of the community, and with my daughter in my arms, I started reflecting over the past year. As I stood thinking about how grateful I was for changes in my life over this past year, I suddenly heard my name announced for the honor of Chatan Torah, along with a short explanation as to why my community had decided to honor me so. I was shocked and, more than that, extremely surprised as to how I gained the right to be honored in such a way. This honor reminded me of all that I have for which to be thankful and gave me something else to reflect upon: how can I show gratitude to those who honored me and gave me this opportunity?


In a few weeks, many of us will be celebrating Thanksgiving. This is a holiday that emphasizes the value of saying "thank you" and showing appreciation to others. All of my recent reflections have gone along this theme, leading me to consider the value of Hakarat Hatov and its connection to studying Torah.


Click here to read Benny's complete dvar torah. 
Professional Development Opportunities for Your School/Community

If you work in a day school or other Jewish educational institution, you might want to take advantage of some of the new offerings from our Pardes Center for Jewish Educators.


We currently have four California schools (Kadima, Pressman Academy, professional development San Diego Jewish Academy and Sinai Akiva) piloting our new "Judaism and Conflict Resolution" program in Rabbinics for 8th graders. This is an exciting new curriculum that develops skills and provides content which is particularly relevant to middle schoolers and helpful in promoting the kind of atmosphere we hope to see in our day schools.


This year, we have piloted three units, including one on bullying. We will be expanding with additional units in the coming year and hope to take in up to ten more middle schools. Other units may be available for high schools. For more information, contact Ilana.


We are working on a major proposal with RAVSAK to address the serious obstacles to successful tefilah in our day schools. We plan to begin to work with K-8 schools. We are also providing some consultation to individual schools or institutions. Finally, we can help you show your institution's constituency what a real Beit Midrash could look like. We will work with you in setting up a program for adults or families that will take the best of what Pardes has to offer and bring it to your school or community. If you are interested in learning more about either of these opportunities, please contact Ben.

A New Summer Curriculum Workshop 


We have a new venue and a new program. This summer, our curriculum workshop will be a one week intensive program in North America, and will be open to any day school Judaic studies teachers-not only our PEP graduates-who have completed 1-4 years of teaching. While we will continue to provide one-on-one mentoring and a program that will support our newest teachers, we are also adding a teacher leadership track, to encourage our more "veteran novice teachers" to begin to take on leadership responsibilities within their schools. While you may already have attended two workshops in Israel, you may still be eligible to join this new program.

 Liberty Bell

The workshop will be held July 26-August 2nd in the suburbs of Philadelphia, using Barrack Hebrew Academy in Bryn Mawr with its on-site hotel as our base. We also hope to take advantage of the new Jewish Museum in Philadelphia and historic Jewish Philadelphia. The program will be open to non-PEP graduates as well and we plan to have separate groupings for elementary, middle and high school. While this is a shorter program than we have previously had, we will be using our evenings for programming as well. Please contact Ben to let us know if you may be interested in our summer program and be sure to pass this information on to colleagues and administrators as well.



The Pardes Center for Jewish Educators (PCJE)

Jewish Educators at Pardes are developing their professional perspectives and exploring personal identities in new ways this semester.  


The Jewish Educators Track has opened with a semester-long course in Tefillah as a Spiritual Practice. James Jacobson Maisels is teaching his approach to tefillah. Judy Markose and Zvi Hirschfield are facilitating the application of this approach to Jewish educational settings. The course is centered around using texts and educational resources to face challenging questions such as: "Why pray? How can I find greater meaning in my own prayer? How can I help my future students to find meaning in prayer? How can we impact Jewish educational institutions in the area of tefillah?" Each educator will develop a proposal based on a new vision for change in the realm of tefillah in their future professional setting.

  Havruta Workshop

A two-evening series titled It Takes Two: Practical Skills for Partnered Learning, which is open to education and rabbinic students outside of Pardes, is offered as part of the Jewish Educators Track. Michael Hattin will be teaching about the methodology and application of Havruta learning.


The monthly PCJE Forum offers all Pardes Educators (day school and experiential) a chance to take time away from the beit midrash and explore "big ideas" facing Jewish education today. Our topics so far have included Jewish Identity: Personal, Provocative and ... Professional? and Limits and Dangers of Social Media in the Jewish Community. The sharing of different perspectives is fascinating and very welcomed by our students.


Focus on Aviva Gershman (Cohort 10) 


My name is Aviva Gershman. I am a 2nd year teacher at the Charles E. Smith Upper School in Rockville, MD. I never thought I would be writing in October of this year about how much I loved my job; it was only a year ago that I was completely drowning in work and overwhelmed. Aviva Gershman and Family

A year makes a huge difference. As my dear friends from cohort '10 know, my decision to come to PEP was a big one for my entire family; I moved to Jerusalem with a husband and two children who were thrown directly into Israeli public school (a transition made easier by the help of Donna Rudolph, another PEP alum). Prior to joining the Educators Program, I had been in Jewish education for almost a decade working as the Director of Education for Temple Beth-El, the Conservative shul in Richmond, Virginia, my husband's hometown.

Click here to read more from Aviva.  




Calling All Day School Teachers 


We are offering different opportunities for our veteran and first year day school teachers, as well as for middle school teachers.


Cohorts 1 -8

We are delighted to invite all of our graduates from cohorts 1-8 who are still in the day school world to join us for the annual North American Day School Conference to be held in Washington, DC, February 3-5. Our program is beginning to shape up, and we are excited by the opportunity to inspire and inform our veteran teachers, and provide numerous opportunities for networking, reflection and professional development. The cost of the conference and the hotel is covered by our alumni network.


We already have close to two dozen alumni who have signed up, and we look forward to receiving a few more reservations. If you have not yet responded, please do so immediately as we have only a few more rooms available, and limited stipend money for travel. We will be in touch shortly with those who have already responded positively to provide more information and to get further input from you.  


First Year Teachers' PLC

Our first year teachers are invited to join our Professional Learning Community (PLC), based on a discussion of Lemov's book, Teach like a Champion. The conference call will also include a discussion of recent challenges in the classroom and an opportunity to share successes.  


Middle School PLC 

We are excited that our Middle School Professional Learning Community (PLC) will continue this year! As you know, managing a middle school classroom can be an extremely challenging task.  In an effort to support our middle school teachers, the PLC gets together by conference call once a month. Our first meeting is on Sunday, November 11 and will focus on "Understanding the Middle School Brain." We also take time on each call to process critical incidents that teachers are dealing with in their classrooms. This group is open to PEP alumni who are in at least their second year of teaching. If you are interested in joining the group, please contact Ariel Wolgel.  



Education Corner


Communicating Expectations 

by Ilana Lipman


We've heard it all before: if we want our students to succeed, we must have high expectations of them. This is all well and good, but how do I communicate my expectations to students so that they will get the message that 1) what they are doing is important, 2) they can indeed do it, and 3) the teacher won't give up on them?


In The Skillful Teacher, Saphier, Haley-Speca and Gower outline 4 different categories for standards of performance:

  • Quality and quantity of work (those characteristics that make a piece of work acceptable)
  • Work habits and work procedures (how students go about doing their work, following instructions, bell work, etc.)
  • Business and housekeeping routines (non-academic, work-related procedures like keeping the room clean)
  • Interpersonal behavior (how students behave towards one another and towards the teacher) (p.263-264)Communicating expectations

It is important to recognize that the teacher must address each of the above categories in order to achieve the desired standards. For example, communicating expectations regarding quality and quantity of work will not ensure that students achieve standards in work habits and work procedures. Once the teacher establishes which are the most important expectations in each category, the next step is for the teacher to communicate them explicitly, specifically and repeatedly


Click here to read the entire article.  



Educational Publications, Resources and Opportunities 

There was recently a discussion on the PEASP Forum of sources on Rishonim. Reuven Margrett (Cohort 6) recommends eMishna, which, he says, "has an integrated English translation of the Mishnah with Bartenura (note: it does not translate each and every statement of Bartenura, but explains the Mishnah according to his explications)." Mordechai Rachover (Cohort 3) recommends Free Primary Jewish Sources and Resources on the Internet.

Many of you were fortunate to have Barbara Rosenblit as a mentor at The Weber School in Atlanta. Now you can hear her voice over and over-and see what a creative modern day midrash is really all about! Click here.

Archived podcasts by educator Mark Smilowitz on Classroom Issues can be heard here. Click here for his latest podcast on Formative Assessments.

Literary critic D. G. Myers's list of the "38 best Jewish books of 2011" can be found here.

Torat Chaim Institute is a non profit organization dedicated to teaching halacha in a hands-on way. Click here to resources 2 view their discussions of the 39 Melachot and Shatnez.

Faculty member Alex Israel recommends Hebrew Wiki Source, a great free library for almost anything Jewish, from Tanach to Rav Kook.

From the Field  


Jessie Gindea (cohort 11) is a first year middle school teacher at theJessie's class Solomon Schechter Day School in New Milford, NJ. She is also a Nadiv Fellow (working both as a day school teacher and informal educator, and as a camp Judaics specialist). Jessie has shared two activities, a Tefillah program and Ta'amei Tanakh, that have worked successfully with her classes. 


Read about Jessie's programs here. 


Alumni Updates

Personal News

Mazal Tov to:


Jenn Adler (Cohort 7) on her recent marriage to Michael Laytin.


Nili Auerbach (Cohort 6) and Ezra on the birth of a daughter, Gavriella Maya. Mazal tov to big sisters Eliana and Leora.    


Yael Krieger (Cohort 8) and Josh Laden on the birth of a daughter, Elisheva Maayan. 


Rachel Meiner (Cohort 7) and Yaron on the birth of a daughter, Neomi Avigail.


Drew Cohen (Cohort 10) and Kelly Cohen (Cohort 10) on the birth of a son, Joss Aaron.

Rachel Shapiro (Cohort 7) and Tomer Fink on the birth of a daughter, Zoe Yona. 


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