מַה שֶּׁהָיָה הוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה וּמַה שֶּׁנַּעֲשָׂה הוּא שֶׁיֵּעָשֶׂה וְאֵין כָּל חָדָשׁ תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ:
Kohelet 1:9 tells us “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun,” and yet we know that is not true. This issue of HaYidion is filled with bold ideas, with new possibilities, with hope and excitement about the future. It is surely appropriate that this is our spring issue, coinciding with the rebirth of the nature in all its fruitful glory. Likewise, it is fitting that we publish as we prepare to celebrate Shavuot, when Har Sinai suddenly blossomed with flowers in anticipation of the giving of the Torah on its summit.
As I write my final column, counting down the final weeks of my tenure as chair of the board of RAVSAK, Jews all over the world have begun counting the days of the Omer—from Passover, when bold leadership led to freedom and redemption, self-realization and a new beginning, to Shavuot when, only 50 days after the exodus from Egypt, we celebrate the giving of the Ten Commandments, signifying the transition from an enslaved nation to a “light unto the nations.” I cannot help but think back and notice the extent of the transition I have witnessed and in which I have been involved at RAVSAK since my first exposure in 1995.
Mazal tov to these newly appointed heads: Susan Siegel, B’nai Shalom Day School, Greensboro, NC; Sharon Pollin, Community Day School, Metairie, LA; Adam Tilove, Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island, Providence; Dr. Daniel Goldberg, Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School, Toronto; Lee Buckman,TanenbaumCHAT, Toronto; Jeff Davis, Tarbut V’Torah, Irvine, CA.
While I like to think of myself as a leader who welcomes new ideas and innovation and encourages significant input from my board members, parents and staff, I find myself in the position of being lobbied heavily by a large group of parents to launch a program about which I have serious doubts. They have gone so far as to raise money specifically for this project.
Some of the most exciting developments on today’s Jewish landscape come from the “innovation sector,” which encourages people to take an idea and run with it. Bernstein applies its principles for Jewish education.
”Child-centered education” sounds great on paper but is not easy to put into practice. Here’s a description of how one recognized practioner school goes about it.
”Hands-on” is not a classical description of Jewish pedagogy, yet it is increasingly valued today in all educational settings. Kasper ups the ante, envisioning a school that is intensely hands-on and Jewish at once.
In the Jewish world, the term “pluralism” tends to be thought of primarily in denominational terms. Lipsky urges schools to recognize other forms of difference and empower students to own and explore them.
Our schools look for the right balance as we educate students to be both good Jews and good citizens. Jacobs argues that we should take the latter just as seriously as the former; he sketches out a curriculum to accomplish that.
For parents fully to buy into day school education and serve as ambassadors for it, they need to understand it and value it for themselves. Bamberger provides one model of a program that gives adults the joy of shared Jewish learning.
Especially in smaller communities, community day schools often have complicated relations with the local Orthodox population, which usually sends children to day schools but can be demanding about the Jewish content. Here’s one model to make that relationship succeed.
This article and the next two advocate for day schools to provide programming beyond their core consituency. Fuchs and Libenson say it’s time for day schools to step in where synagogues have largely failed: supplemental education.
Nash describes the highly ambitious project that her school undertook to provide a variety of Jewish family programming and education for underserved Jews in their catchment area.
As a director of the prestigious Bronfman fellowships, Voorwinde believes that some of the most powerful learning happens when day school teens encounter their Jewish peers from other schools—for their mutual growth.
Miller shows how robotics can be much more than an exciting way to engage students in STEM learning. Students can use robotics in all subjects to create dynamic models that represent the values and activities they want to display.
Building upon the innovations of the Mozilla Foundation, Blattner demonstrates how schools can employ digital badges to accomplish a host of pedagogical aims, including motivation, assessment, curricular planning, problem solving, blended learning and more.
This open-source initiative captures the collaborative power of Wikipedia for the benefit of Jewish education. Sefaria has enormous potential for teachers as a resource for texts and lessons, and for students to contribute to a global project.
In his perch above the world of day school finance, Perla has considered proposals and sat in on conversations exploring the potential of insurance to support schools. Here is his critical survey and his tips on ideas that look promising.
In Schrager’s view, genealogy has potential that goes far beyond the limited uses schools make of it today. It has the power to motivate and guide student learning in numerous subjects across the curriculum.
How many students dream of making their own movie? When he was a Judaics teacher in LA, Kastan created a movie company enabling his students to fulfill their fantasy, bringing their Jewish study to life on screen.
The Shoshana S. Cardin Jewish Community High School in Baltimore has been the center of our family’s universe since 2006. We moved from Columbia, Maryland, to Baltimore so that my older sister, and later I, could attend this school. At Cardin, students flourish in small classes while developing meaningful relationships with an outstanding faculty. Each student is nurtured in a pluralistic, Jewish environment, where Jewish values, history, and traditions are infused throughout the curriculum, and opportunities for civic and social involvement abound. My sister arrived as an introverted freshman in 2006, and graduated four years later with a level of confidence no one expected, a resume full of social action projects, and sincere recommendations from her teachers that won her scholarships to all of the colleges of her choice.
Rabbi Yehuda used to say: The whole world was on one side, while Abraham was on the other side.
Breishit Rabba 42:8