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September 2008

Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies Mail

Pardes Educator Alumni Newsletter-August, 2008 Menachem Av, 5768


Dear Hevre,

We hope this third issue of the newsletter finds you rested and refreshed after your summer vacation and ready to begin a new year. We were delighted to have welcomed so many of our recent graduates to the summer curriculum workshop. All tolled, there were 30 participants, half of whom were PEP alumni. In addition, Tamar Rabinowitz (cohort 1) and Amanda Pogany (cohort 2) served as staff members, mentoring participants and presenting workshops. Evan Wolkenstein (cohort 1) gave a highly acclaimed workshop on multiple levels for reading text (which we will feature in next month's newsletter). For those hoping to attend next year's summer curriculum workshop (or who know other novice teachers who would be interested), the dates have tentatively been set for July 14-28th. Tisha B'av study at Pardes was in memory of PEP students Marla Bennett (cohort 2), Ben Blutstein (cohort 3), and former Pardes students Sarah Duker and Matt Eisenfeld.Michael Simon spoke beautifully about Marla, connecting her death and its aftermath, to Tisha B'av.To receive a copy of Michael's remarks contact Debra.

 B'hatzlaha raba to those who will shortly begin a new year of teaching, or other new jobs. We hope all of you will keep us informed of both personal and professional changes.

 Kol tuv,

Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project staff (Abby, Debra and Susan)

The Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project is funded by a generous grant from the
Jim Joseph Foundation.

Dvar Torah by Rabbi Danny Landes
One Good Turn Deserves. . .
Teshuvah is a core principle of both Jewish theology and of Jewish life.  Theologically, it affirms the primacy of man's actions, and that while he can and most probably will sin, there is nonetheless a process of rectification.  A forgiving God demands that we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and save ourselves through the Teshuvah process.  In our life as lived, this means that we must be both humble enough to know that we have failed and gutsy enough to realize that positive change is possible and is dependent upon ourselves.  As educators, we need to help facilitate this process within our students, within our schools and within ourselves. 
Teshuvah is best translated as the Turn.  In the verb form, it can refer to two types of turning. The first is to "turn away from."  Thus (Melachim Bet 17:13), Shuvu Mai'Darkhaichem HaRa'im - "Turn away from your evil paths"; and (Yeshayahu 26:3): VaYaShuvu Ish MaiDarkho HaRa'ah - "And a man shall turn away from his evil path."
The second Turning is the turning towards. Thus, (Devarim 4:30): VaShavta ad HaShem - "and you shall turn unto the Lord," as well as (Hoshea 14:2): Shuvah Yisrael ad HaShem - "Return, O Israel, to HaShem: and (Malachi 3:7): Shuvu Aili - "turn to me."
The two turnings are complementary.  The first, turning away, is the movement to separate from wrongful and hurtful behaviors.  Formally, it contains the actions of Charatah, regretting one's actions and Azivat HaChait - leaving the sin behind.  Essentially, it allows for the sin and wrongful behaviors to be put in the past.  And to stay there.
The second Turning, the turning towards, is the turning towards God and to meaning.  It is future directed.  It emphasizes how the life can be changed.  It presents a vision of what can be.  Formally, it is referred to as Kabbalah al HaAtid - accepting for oneself a [brighter] future. 
What comes first?  The turning away from, or the turning to?  (Certainly one must always first rectify any harm that one has done to another person.  But our discussion here is talking about the inward process which may not really involve someone else, or must still be done even after one has cleaned up their moral mess.)  Logically, one would think that turning away should proceed turning towards.  And that is great, if so it works out, but that is not always the path for everyone.  Indeed, the Talmud tells us that if a man tells a woman that they are married (if she agrees!) on the condition that he is a Tzadik Gamur - completely righteous - they are indeed married even if he has been a Rasha Gamur - completely evil. For as the Or Zarua points out:  "as soon as he thought of teshuvah - Hirher BeTeshuvah - he is a Tzadik Gamur.  But how can that be - how can he be completely righteous if he hasn't turned away from that which he must?
The answer, I believe, is that turning away is about the past, and turning towards is about the future. The turning to just via a momentary yet serious desire to Teshuvah is enough to recreate the individual Maikahn LiHaba, from now on to the future as a real tzadik.  Thus certainly, a chatan (and a kallah) can claim a new start. But the sin and behaviors of the past still remain.  In technical terms, HaAvon Lo Mitkaper - the sin has not been atoned for.
Some students cannot move forward if they start by dwelling on the past.  They know that how they have acted is wrong, but thinking only of it will actually only get them stuck.  They need a vision for the future - how and what they can be.  And we need to respect that desire as a real form of Teshuvah.  The trick is to allow that vision and our follow through to strengthen them so that they eventually can confront their past, and see what went wrong and take ownership of it so that they can overcome it.  Still other students will need to start with the past but I urge that a new, positive vision soon follow; after deleting the negative, you can accentuate the positive.  And perhaps most will veer between the two. 
And what is true of a student is certainly true of a school environment.  Gripe sessions and even thoughtful self-analysis need to lead soon or even sometimes be preceded by a new turning to, in order to break institutional, emotional and behavioral logjams.  Turning away and turning to - in the end - work together to create a real Teshuvah - a Re-turn to what we all can be.  And the best place to start - is with ourselves

November Retreat Update
We are very excited as we anticipate the retreat reunion for all PEP graduates of cohorts 1-7.  The fully subsidized retreat (including transportation) will be at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, in Falls Village, CT, November 20-23, 2008.
The retreat center is a beautiful and rustic resort located in the southern Berkshires.  The program is being designed to meet the needs of our newest graduates as well as our veteran teachers and administrators.  There will be sessions of interest to elementary, middle and high school teachers, and to those who are working in other areas of Jewish education. 
We are delighted that Dr. Lisa Lahey of the Harvard University School of Graduate Education has agreed to give a plenary session on Friday morning.  In addition we hope to enlist the experience of our own graduates as well as to draw on some outside experts to enrich the program.  Several Pardes staff members, including David Bernstein, Zvi Hirschfield, Susan Wall and Judy Markose will be visiting from Israel to participate in the retreat.  In addition, we hope to welcome representatives of the AVI CHAI Foundation, and the Jim Joseph Foundation, and perhaps others who have supported the Educators Program.  There will be ample opportunity to learn from the experts, to share challenges and successes in the classroom, and to connect with friends during informal gatherings.  We will share a 
"Pardes" shabbat with our usual Torah lishma, Oneg Shabbat, and choice of various prayer options.
Several of you have already offered to help with the planning.  We plan to take you up on your offers in the coming weeks! Expect to soon receive more information about the retreat program, as well as directions for travel arrangements.  You will also receive letters for your school heads so that the time spent at the retreat can be considered  professional development days.  We look forward to seeing you in November. 
Education Corner:
Creating Classroom Communities
Thanks to Amanda Pogany (cohort 2), at The Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan (8th grade teacher, middle school Student Life Coordinator, and mentor) for the following suggestions.  The basic principles apply to all grades and are a welcome reminder of what we should be thinking about as we begin a new year.

1. Involve students in the conversation.
  Whether you are setting guidelines for student behaviors or setting classroom expectations, include the students in the process.  Students will feel more invested if they have input. 

2. Be positive.  Help students phrase their comments and guidelines in the positive.  Think about the environment you want to create in your classroom.  What behaviors need to happen in your classroom for students to feel safe, included, and comfortable?  Rather than "No talking while others are talking" try "Be respectful of other people's ideas" or "Listen to one another."

3. When things go wrong, focus on relationship.  When students do not follow guidelines help them see how their behavior is impacting the community.  Rather than immediate punishment or consequences, help them think through how they could have handled the situation differently. 

4. Responsibility for Student Behavior.  Make sure your guidelines and expectations are age appropriate, realistic, and practical.  Set policies that support student growth and leave room for mistakes.  For example, sixth graders (changing classrooms for the first time) may have a hard time getting to class on time with all of their appropriate materials.  Think of ways to support them in this process rather than penalize them if they fail.

Teacher Certification Through the National Board of License

 In order to professionalize the field of Jewish education, and provide recognition to qualified educators, The National Board of License (NBL) for Teachers and Principals in Jewish Schools in North America establishes standards and criteria for the certification of professional educators.  Licensure is not required for teaching Judaic Studies in a Jewish day school. However, many schools in North America and Israel recognize, seek and prefer licensed teachers.  In some schools licensed teachers qualify for higher salary scales.   Additional benefits include the ability to network locally and nationally with licensed educators, as well as other "perks" offered in individual communities.

Eligibility for licensure is based on the candidate's academic background, Hebrew proficiency, life experience, and experience in the classroomGraduates that have earned the MA in Jewish Education granted from Hebrew College are automatically eligible for the highest level of licensure. Most PEP alumni that have been granted an MA from Hebrew University are eligible for the same, but must submit all transcripts before individual determination can be made.

Application for a teacher's license can be obtained through the NBL.  In many cities, it can be obtained locally through the local bureau or central agency of Jewish education.  Specialized licenses for teachers of Talmud are awarded only through the NBL.  Applications are to be submitted by October 1, for consideration this year.  Contact the NBL, www.nationalboardoflicense.org  or Abby abby@pardesusa.org for more information.

  Focus on Jessica Lissy Trey (Cohort 4)
I recently completed my 4th year as the middle school Judaic Studies teacher at theJessica's photo Hannah Senesh Community Day School in Brooklyn.  Our school moved into a new building this year.  For the first time, our students have their own gym, art room, and outdoor playground - not to mention space to eat lunch and to perform school plays.  For teachers, it was very exciting to go from sharing 3 or 4 computers to having computers in our rooms and in the library.  Next year I will be the Judaic Studies Coordinator for the school, and will continue to teach 8th grade Chumash and Talmud.  As the Judaic Studies Coordinator, I will be helping our staff with two major new initiatives.  The first is curriculum mapping.  The entire school will be using a web-based computer program to map our curriculum this year.  This will enable us to see what we're actually teaching, as opposed to what we say we are teaching, and will help us to spot gaps, repetitions, ways to build students' skills across grades and to reflect on what we teach, when and why.  We are also participating in a program through JTS and Avi Chai to develop a Standards and Benchmarks approach to our Chumash curriculum.  I attended a seminar in early July at JTS where I worked with my Tanach Education Consultant, Cindy Reich, and was trained in the program's approach to developing curriculum.  I am excited about sharing what I learned with our teachers.  I know it will transform our school and bring student learning to a higher level.  
In addition, as Judaic Studies Coordinator I am also responsible for mentoring teachers and for the tefila, Israel, chagim, etc. aspects of school.  I also am excited about family education, Shabbatonim for the kids, and perhaps adding some continuing education for our graduates who do not go on to Jewish high schools.  But I don't think I'll be getting to all of that this year!
Personally, I got married in October and my husband Jeff and I moved to Brooklyn in May. We love our new apartment and are excited about being near friends and our minyan, Alt Shul.  Best of all, I can even walk to work!

P.S. from Susan: Jessica came to PEP from a career writing for "Blue's Clues" children's television series.  She has expertise integrating bibliodrama with teaching traditional texts. She has also chaperoned her 8th grade Israel class trip.  Jessica is happy to help you in either  regard.  Feel free to contact jessica.
PEP now has Lookstein Center Membership!
Membership in the Lookstein Center will make you eligible for many professional development and networking benefits that will help you achieve your professional mission as Jewish educators.  Some of the benefits include:
Access to Jewish Educational Leadership(online journal)
*Free participation in Lookstein.org e-communities.
*Reductions on popular online purchases.
And much more.
In order to learn more about this and to receive the username and password please be in touch with Debra .
Educational Links: Posters
During the summer curriculum workshop, a number of participants asked about finding posters for the classroom. Here are some links:


Books of theTanach, weekly torah portions and other posters are available from DorLDor: 1-888-HEBREW2

www.sukkah.com (not only sukkah posters - also related to history, Bible, Israel)
www.israelbookshop.com (Hebrew, holidays, Israel, maps, etc. - go to educational materials and then posters. See also maps.)
There are many other sites - you can google "posters, Jewish holidays" etc. Many of these need careful screening so as to order appropriate materials, but there are definitely some worthwhile possibilities. (For ex. www.art.cafepress.com)

Please send us other sources for posters you may have.

More Online Resources

* Rabbi Jeffrey Saks of Atid recently interviewed Rabbi Elyakim Krumbein of Yeshivat Har Etzion about his new book, Musar for Moderns. Among the topics discussed was the challenge of promoting religious-spiritual growth in schools. The podcast is available free-click here.

*Jonathan Mishkin (Summer Program faculty member and husband of  tour guide and educator, Shulie Mishkin) has recently publish a book entitled Think this Way, a source book for informal Jewish Education. The book contains dozens of activities for making the Jewish classroom come alive.

*Jeff Spitzer, Chair of the Department of Rabbinics and Talmud at Gann Academy has posted a Rabbinic Literature Genre Map online.  To learn more about what he has done click here.

*More Pardes faculty members are now involved with the weekly online learning podcast. We have more than 1000 downloads a week of these ever popular podcasts.  Check it out here!
PEP Corner
Welcome back to Cohort 8 and welcome to our newest students in Cohort 9. We are now accepting applications for Cohort 10 (September '09).  Please refer interested, qualified friends and/or colleagues to Dr. Judy Markose.
Alumni Updates
We welcome Cohort 7. B'Hatzlacha as you begin teaching this year. (Check the geographic listing that was recently sent out by Abby to see where your new colleagues are teaching.)

*Condolences to Reuven Margrett (Cohort 6) on the loss of his father, Alan David z"l.

Mazel Tovs:
Reuven Margrett (Cohort 6) abd Siona on the birth of a son, Alon David.     
Eric and Einav Grosser (Cohort 3) on the birth of a daughter, Marom Nafshi.
Moshe Fisch (Cohort 7) and Caitlin on the birth of a son, Binyamin.
Jamie Salter (Cohort 5) upon his engagement to Cindy Nathanson.
Rachel Levy (Cohort 7) on her recent marriage to Yaron Meiner.
Orah MacDermott (Cohort 3) upon her recent aliyah.
Professional Moves:
Yehoshua Ben Avraham (Cohort 6) has moved to Chicago and will be teaching at Chicagoland Jewish High School.
David Rothberg (Cohort 2) has moved to Boston and will be teaching at the Rashi School.
Eliana Seltzer has moved to Providence RI and will be teaching at the Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island.
Eric and Einav Grosser (Cohort 3) have moved to Dallas.  Einav will be teaching part time.
Mordechai Rakover (Cohort 3) has moved to Rhode Island where he has taken a position as Chaplain and Rabbi at Brown /RISD Hillel.
Eric Zaff (Cohort 1) has returned to Chicago where he will be completing his 4th year of Rabbinical studies.

Michal Cahlon (cohort 5, 2004-2006) was recently appointed department chair of Judaic Studies, grades 6-12, at the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy in Kansas. She will continue  with her regular teaching.

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