Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What's the most powerful form of Jewish education?

With school out for the summer, I thought this would be a great time to run this column to remind you of the vital role you play in your child's Jewish education. -- Judy



By Daniel Held for Canadian Jewish News

As parents make choices about their children’s education, I’m often asked what is the most powerful setting of Jewish learning. Weighing day schools and daycares, supplementary schools and Israel experiences, youth movements, camps, the March of the Living, Birthright Israel, Diller, synagogue programs, JCCs and the dozens of other options, parents want to know what experiences will guide their children toward lives imbued with Jewish meaning.

The question is reasonable and rooted in concern for our children’s Jewish future, but it’s also rooted in the belief that Jewish education and identity development lies in the hands of others and not our own. That’s not the case.

My response to these parents is that the most powerful setting of Jewish learning is the home. The character of a family’s Jewish life is the most important predictor of a child’s future Jewish life. Parents’ modelling of Jewish living – in their own actions and in their decisions for their children – is a key ingredient in forming strong Jewish identities. The decisions to go together to synagogue, celebrate Shabbat, give tzedakah, and generally make Jewish decisions have a profound impact on the ways that children think about Judaism.

Continue reading.


As parents make choices about their children’s education, I’m often asked what is the most powerful setting of Jewish learning. Weighing day schools and daycares, supplementary schools and Israel experiences, youth movements, camps, the March of the Living, Birthright Israel, Diller, synagogue programs, JCCs and the dozens of other options, parents want to know what experiences will guide their children toward lives imbued with Jewish meaning.
The question is reasonable and rooted in concern for our children’s Jewish future, but it’s also rooted in the belief that Jewish education and identity development lies in the hands of others and not our own. That’s not the case.
My response to these parents is that the most powerful setting of Jewish learning is the home. The character of a family’s Jewish life is the most important predictor of a child’s future Jewish life. Parents’ modelling of Jewish living – in their own actions and in their decisions for their children – is a key ingredient in forming strong Jewish identities. The decisions to go together to synagogue, celebrate Shabbat, give tzedakah, and generally make Jewish decisions have a profound impact on the ways that children think about Judaism.
- See more at: http://www.cjnews.com/index.php?q=node/139611#sthash.oR0F93Sk.dpuf
As parents make choices about their children’s education, I’m often asked what is the most powerful setting of Jewish learning. Weighing day schools and daycares, supplementary schools and Israel experiences, youth movements, camps, the March of the Living, Birthright Israel, Diller, synagogue programs, JCCs and the dozens of other options, parents want to know what experiences will guide their children toward lives imbued with Jewish meaning.
The question is reasonable and rooted in concern for our children’s Jewish future, but it’s also rooted in the belief that Jewish education and identity development lies in the hands of others and not our own. That’s not the case.
My response to these parents is that the most powerful setting of Jewish learning is the home. The character of a family’s Jewish life is the most important predictor of a child’s future Jewish life. Parents’ modelling of Jewish living – in their own actions and in their decisions for their children – is a key ingredient in forming strong Jewish identities. The decisions to go together to synagogue, celebrate Shabbat, give tzedakah, and generally make Jewish decisions have a profound impact on the ways that children think about Judaism.
What’s more, Jewish education – even in its most robust forms in Jewish day schools and other immersive environments – cannot stand alone. While a child may be able to master math or science, reading or geography in school without outside support, the same is not true for Jewish education. If learning is not reinforced at home, it loses its relevance to, and resilience in, a child’s life.
There is no one-stop shop for Jewish learning. No one setting of education – not matter how strong – can be expected to stand on its own. Rather, the most powerful form of Jewish education is a cocktail of educative experiences.
Some time ago, I visited a synagogue which had an open playroom, but no educational children’s program on Shabbat morning. When I asked why, I was told that the vast majority of children in the shul are day school students, so they don’t need Jewish education on Shabbat. I’ve heard similar stories of families who say that their child “gets Jewish” throughout the year, so they take the summer off to go to a non-Jewish camp. This thinking places an unfair burden on the school. No one setting of Jewish education is the panacea. When a child has multiple touch points, with different curricula, different modalities of teaching, and, most importantly, different teachers and role models, the impact on his Jewish identity is multiplied.
Finally, in making decisions about our children’s Jewish education, we must realize that it’s not about one time in their lives. I’ve been asked when is the time to send a child to Jewish educational programs. Some would like to say that preschool gives the necessary grounding. Others argue that Jewish education up to bar mitzvah provides the basic literacy a child needs to participate in Jewish life, while still others argue that high school is the crucial period of identity formation.
These views are shortsighted. Jewish learning, to have a true impact on one’s life, has to be lifelong. It begins at birth, when we read stories about Shabbat, the holidays and tzedakah and continues throughout life into adulthood.
The question of what is the most powerful form of Jewish education comes from a place of love and commitment to our children. The answer, however, is not as simple as selecting from a list of A, B or C, rather, it’s D, all of the above. One researcher coined the phrase “the more the more” – the more time, the more touch points, the more role models a child is exposed to, the more her Jewish identity and commitment will grow.
Daniel Held is executive director of the Julia and Henry Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education at UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
- See more at: http://www.cjnews.com/index.php?q=node/139611#sthash.oR0F93Sk.dpuf
As parents make choices about their children’s education, I’m often asked what is the most powerful setting of Jewish learning. Weighing day schools and daycares, supplementary schools and Israel experiences, youth movements, camps, the March of the Living, Birthright Israel, Diller, synagogue programs, JCCs and the dozens of other options, parents want to know what experiences will guide their children toward lives imbued with Jewish meaning.
The question is reasonable and rooted in concern for our children’s Jewish future, but it’s also rooted in the belief that Jewish education and identity development lies in the hands of others and not our own. That’s not the case.
My response to these parents is that the most powerful setting of Jewish learning is the home. The character of a family’s Jewish life is the most important predictor of a child’s future Jewish life. Parents’ modelling of Jewish living – in their own actions and in their decisions for their children – is a key ingredient in forming strong Jewish identities. The decisions to go together to synagogue, celebrate Shabbat, give tzedakah, and generally make Jewish decisions have a profound impact on the ways that children think about Judaism.
What’s more, Jewish education – even in its most robust forms in Jewish day schools and other immersive environments – cannot stand alone. While a child may be able to master math or science, reading or geography in school without outside support, the same is not true for Jewish education. If learning is not reinforced at home, it loses its relevance to, and resilience in, a child’s life.
There is no one-stop shop for Jewish learning. No one setting of education – not matter how strong – can be expected to stand on its own. Rather, the most powerful form of Jewish education is a cocktail of educative experiences.
Some time ago, I visited a synagogue which had an open playroom, but no educational children’s program on Shabbat morning. When I asked why, I was told that the vast majority of children in the shul are day school students, so they don’t need Jewish education on Shabbat. I’ve heard similar stories of families who say that their child “gets Jewish” throughout the year, so they take the summer off to go to a non-Jewish camp. This thinking places an unfair burden on the school. No one setting of Jewish education is the panacea. When a child has multiple touch points, with different curricula, different modalities of teaching, and, most importantly, different teachers and role models, the impact on his Jewish identity is multiplied.
Finally, in making decisions about our children’s Jewish education, we must realize that it’s not about one time in their lives. I’ve been asked when is the time to send a child to Jewish educational programs. Some would like to say that preschool gives the necessary grounding. Others argue that Jewish education up to bar mitzvah provides the basic literacy a child needs to participate in Jewish life, while still others argue that high school is the crucial period of identity formation.
These views are shortsighted. Jewish learning, to have a true impact on one’s life, has to be lifelong. It begins at birth, when we read stories about Shabbat, the holidays and tzedakah and continues throughout life into adulthood.
The question of what is the most powerful form of Jewish education comes from a place of love and commitment to our children. The answer, however, is not as simple as selecting from a list of A, B or C, rather, it’s D, all of the above. One researcher coined the phrase “the more the more” – the more time, the more touch points, the more role models a child is exposed to, the more her Jewish identity and commitment will grow.
Daniel Held is executive director of the Julia and Henry Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education at UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
- See more at: http://www.cjnews.com/index.php?q=node/139611#sthash.oR0F93Sk.dpuf
As parents make choices about their children’s education, I’m often asked what is the most powerful setting of Jewish learning. Weighing day schools and daycares, supplementary schools and Israel experiences, youth movements, camps, the March of the Living, Birthright Israel, Diller, synagogue programs, JCCs and the dozens of other options, parents want to know what experiences will guide their children toward lives imbued with Jewish meaning.
The question is reasonable and rooted in concern for our children’s Jewish future, but it’s also rooted in the belief that Jewish education and identity development lies in the hands of others and not our own. That’s not the case.
My response to these parents is that the most powerful setting of Jewish learning is the home. The character of a family’s Jewish life is the most important predictor of a child’s future Jewish life. Parents’ modelling of Jewish living – in their own actions and in their decisions for their children – is a key ingredient in forming strong Jewish identities. The decisions to go together to synagogue, celebrate Shabbat, give tzedakah, and generally make Jewish decisions have a profound impact on the ways that children think about Judaism.
What’s more, Jewish education – even in its most robust forms in Jewish day schools and other immersive environments – cannot stand alone. While a child may be able to master math or science, reading or geography in school without outside support, the same is not true for Jewish education. If learning is not reinforced at home, it loses its relevance to, and resilience in, a child’s life.
There is no one-stop shop for Jewish learning. No one setting of education – not matter how strong – can be expected to stand on its own. Rather, the most powerful form of Jewish education is a cocktail of educative experiences.
Some time ago, I visited a synagogue which had an open playroom, but no educational children’s program on Shabbat morning. When I asked why, I was told that the vast majority of children in the shul are day school students, so they don’t need Jewish education on Shabbat. I’ve heard similar stories of families who say that their child “gets Jewish” throughout the year, so they take the summer off to go to a non-Jewish camp. This thinking places an unfair burden on the school. No one setting of Jewish education is the panacea. When a child has multiple touch points, with different curricula, different modalities of teaching, and, most importantly, different teachers and role models, the impact on his Jewish identity is multiplied.
Finally, in making decisions about our children’s Jewish education, we must realize that it’s not about one time in their lives. I’ve been asked when is the time to send a child to Jewish educational programs. Some would like to say that preschool gives the necessary grounding. Others argue that Jewish education up to bar mitzvah provides the basic literacy a child needs to participate in Jewish life, while still others argue that high school is the crucial period of identity formation.
These views are shortsighted. Jewish learning, to have a true impact on one’s life, has to be lifelong. It begins at birth, when we read stories about Shabbat, the holidays and tzedakah and continues throughout life into adulthood.
The question of what is the most powerful form of Jewish education comes from a place of love and commitment to our children. The answer, however, is not as simple as selecting from a list of A, B or C, rather, it’s D, all of the above. One researcher coined the phrase “the more the more” – the more time, the more touch points, the more role models a child is exposed to, the more her Jewish identity and commitment will grow.
Daniel Held is executive director of the Julia and Henry Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education at UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
- See more at: http://www.cjnews.com/index.php?q=node/139611#sthash.oR0F93Sk.dpufvAs parents make choices about their children’s education, I’m often asked what is the most powerful setting of Jewish learning. Weighing day schools and daycares, supplementary schools and Israel experiences, youth movements, camps, the March of the Living, Birthright Israel, Diller, synagogue programs, JCCs and the dozens of other options, parents want to know what experiences will guide their children toward lives imbued with Jewish meaning.
The question is reasonable and rooted in concern for our children’s Jewish future, but it’s also rooted in the belief that Jewish education and identity development lies in the hands of others and not our own. That’s not the case.
My response to these parents is that the most powerful setting of Jewish learning is the home. The character of a family’s Jewish life is the most important predictor of a child’s future Jewish life. Parents’ modelling of Jewish living – in their own actions and in their decisions for their children – is a key ingredient in forming strong Jewish identities. The decisions to go together to synagogue, celebrate Shabbat, give tzedakah, and generally make Jewish decisions have a profound impact on the ways that children think about Judaism.
What’s more, Jewish education – even in its most robust forms in Jewish day schools and other immersive environments – cannot stand alone. While a child may be able to master math or science, reading or geography in school without outside support, the same is not true for Jewish education. If learning is not reinforced at home, it loses its relevance to, and resilience in, a child’s life.
There is no one-stop shop for Jewish learning. No one setting of education – not matter how strong – can be expected to stand on its own. Rather, the most powerful form of Jewish education is a cocktail of educative experiences.
Some time ago, I visited a synagogue which had an open playroom, but no educational children’s program on Shabbat morning. When I asked why, I was told that the vast majority of children in the shul are day school students, so they don’t need Jewish education on Shabbat. I’ve heard similar stories of families who say that their child “gets Jewish” throughout the year, so they take the summer off to go to a non-Jewish camp. This thinking places an unfair burden on the school. No one setting of Jewish education is the panacea. When a child has multiple touch points, with different curricula, different modalities of teaching, and, most importantly, different teachers and role models, the impact on his Jewish identity is multiplied.
Finally, in making decisions about our children’s Jewish education, we must realize that it’s not about one time in their lives. I’ve been asked when is the time to send a child to Jewish educational programs. Some would like to say that preschool gives the necessary grounding. Others argue that Jewish education up to bar mitzvah provides the basic literacy a child needs to participate in Jewish life, while still others argue that high school is the crucial period of identity formation.
These views are shortsighted. Jewish learning, to have a true impact on one’s life, has to be lifelong. It begins at birth, when we read stories about Shabbat, the holidays and tzedakah and continues throughout life into adulthood.
The question of what is the most powerful form of Jewish education comes from a place of love and commitment to our children. The answer, however, is not as simple as selecting from a list of A, B or C, rather, it’s D, all of the above. One researcher coined the phrase “the more the more” – the more time, the more touch points, the more role models a child is exposed to, the more her Jewish identity and commitment will grow.
Daniel Held is executive director of the Julia and Henry Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education at UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
- See more at: http://www.cjnews.com/index.php?q=node/139611#sthash.oR0F93Sk.dpuf
As parents make choices about their children’s education, I’m often asked what is the most powerful setting of Jewish learning. Weighing day schools and daycares, supplementary schools and Israel experiences, youth movements, camps, the March of the Living, Birthright Israel, Diller, synagogue programs, JCCs and the dozens of other options, parents want to know what experiences will guide their children toward lives imbued with Jewish meaning.
The question is reasonable and rooted in concern for our children’s Jewish future, but it’s also rooted in the belief that Jewish education and identity development lies in the hands of others and not our own. That’s not the case.
My response to these parents is that the most powerful setting of Jewish learning is the home. The character of a family’s Jewish life is the most important predictor of a child’s future Jewish life. Parents’ modelling of Jewish living – in their own actions and in their decisions for their children – is a key ingredient in forming strong Jewish identities. The decisions to go together to synagogue, celebrate Shabbat, give tzedakah, and generally make Jewish decisions have a profound impact on the ways that children think about Judaism.
What’s more, Jewish education – even in its most robust forms in Jewish day schools and other immersive environments – cannot stand alone. While a child may be able to master math or science, reading or geography in school without outside support, the same is not true for Jewish education. If learning is not reinforced at home, it loses its relevance to, and resilience in, a child’s life.
There is no one-stop shop for Jewish learning. No one setting of education – not matter how strong – can be expected to stand on its own. Rather, the most powerful form of Jewish education is a cocktail of educative experiences.
Some time ago, I visited a synagogue which had an open playroom, but no educational children’s program on Shabbat morning. When I asked why, I was told that the vast majority of children in the shul are day school students, so they don’t need Jewish education on Shabbat. I’ve heard similar stories of families who say that their child “gets Jewish” throughout the year, so they take the summer off to go to a non-Jewish camp. This thinking places an unfair burden on the school. No one setting of Jewish education is the panacea. When a child has multiple touch points, with different curricula, different modalities of teaching, and, most importantly, different teachers and role models, the impact on his Jewish identity is multiplied.
Finally, in making decisions about our children’s Jewish education, we must realize that it’s not about one time in their lives. I’ve been asked when is the time to send a child to Jewish educational programs. Some would like to say that preschool gives the necessary grounding. Others argue that Jewish education up to bar mitzvah provides the basic literacy a child needs to participate in Jewish life, while still others argue that high school is the crucial period of identity formation.
These views are shortsighted. Jewish learning, to have a true impact on one’s life, has to be lifelong. It begins at birth, when we read stories about Shabbat, the holidays and tzedakah and continues throughout life into adulthood.
The question of what is the most powerful form of Jewish education comes from a place of love and commitment to our children. The answer, however, is not as simple as selecting from a list of A, B or C, rather, it’s D, all of the above. One researcher coined the phrase “the more the more” – the more time, the more touch points, the more role models a child is exposed to, the more her Jewish identity and commitment will grow.
Daniel Held is executive director of the Julia and Henry Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education at UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
- See more at: http://www.cjnews.com/index.php?q=node/139611#sthash.oR0F93Sk.dpuf
As parents make choices about their children’s education, I’m often asked what is the most powerful setting of Jewish learning. Weighing day schools and daycares, supplementary schools and Israel experiences, youth movements, camps, the March of the Living, Birthright Israel, Diller, synagogue programs, JCCs and the dozens of other options, parents want to know what experiences will guide their children toward lives imbued with Jewish meaning.
The question is reasonable and rooted in concern for our children’s Jewish future, but it’s also rooted in the belief that Jewish education and identity development lies in the hands of others and not our own. That’s not the case.
My response to these parents is that the most powerful setting of Jewish learning is the home. The character of a family’s Jewish life is the most important predictor of a child’s future Jewish life. Parents’ modelling of Jewish living – in their own actions and in their decisions for their children – is a key ingredient in forming strong Jewish identities. The decisions to go together to synagogue, celebrate Shabbat, give tzedakah, and generally make Jewish decisions have a profound impact on the ways that children think about Judaism.
What’s more, Jewish education – even in its most robust forms in Jewish day schools and other immersive environments – cannot stand alone. While a child may be able to master math or science, reading or geography in school without outside support, the same is not true for Jewish education. If learning is not reinforced at home, it loses its relevance to, and resilience in, a child’s life.
There is no one-stop shop for Jewish learning. No one setting of education – not matter how strong – can be expected to stand on its own. Rather, the most powerful form of Jewish education is a cocktail of educative experiences.
Some time ago, I visited a synagogue which had an open playroom, but no educational children’s program on Shabbat morning. When I asked why, I was told that the vast majority of children in the shul are day school students, so they don’t need Jewish education on Shabbat. I’ve heard similar stories of families who say that their child “gets Jewish” throughout the year, so they take the summer off to go to a non-Jewish camp. This thinking places an unfair burden on the school. No one setting of Jewish education is the panacea. When a child has multiple touch points, with different curricula, different modalities of teaching, and, most importantly, different teachers and role models, the impact on his Jewish identity is multiplied.
Finally, in making decisions about our children’s Jewish education, we must realize that it’s not about one time in their lives. I’ve been asked when is the time to send a child to Jewish educational programs. Some would like to say that preschool gives the necessary grounding. Others argue that Jewish education up to bar mitzvah provides the basic literacy a child needs to participate in Jewish life, while still others argue that high school is the crucial period of identity formation.
These views are shortsighted. Jewish learning, to have a true impact on one’s life, has to be lifelong. It begins at birth, when we read stories about Shabbat, the holidays and tzedakah and continues throughout life into adulthood.
The question of what is the most powerful form of Jewish education comes from a place of love and commitment to our children. The answer, however, is not as simple as selecting from a list of A, B or C, rather, it’s D, all of the above. One researcher coined the phrase “the more the more” – the more time, the more touch points, the more role models a child is exposed to, the more her Jewish identity and commitment will grow.
Daniel Held is executive director of the Julia and Henry Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education at UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
- See more at: http://www.cjnews.com/index.php?q=node/139611#sthash.oR0F93Sk.dpuf

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How do you measure success?

Henry Ford: While Ford is today known for his innovative assembly line and American-made cars, he wasn't an instant success. In fact, his early businesses failed and left him broke five times before he founded the successful Ford Motor Company.

R. H. Macy: Most people are familiar with this large department store chain, but Macy didn't always have it easy. Macy started seven failed business before finally hitting big with his store in New York City.

F. W. Woolworth: Some may not know this name today, but Woolworth was once one of the biggest names in department stores in the U.S. Before starting his own business, young Woolworth worked at a dry goods store and was not allowed to wait on customers because his boss said he lacked the sense needed to do so.

I bring these men up because we began a project this year at school under the supervision of Patty Greenfield, called, "Own Your Own Holiday."  The idea was to have one or several classes join together to educate the Temple community at large about a given holiday.  Additionally, we thought it would be a great way to build community and for parents to get to know one another.

Tu Bishvat
Our first holiday was Tu Bishvat.  After a slow start the parents in the classes involved did a wonderful job of putting on a Tu Bishvat oneg with stunning signs and tables of the various fruits and their meanings. The students in the class did a great job of presenting what the holiday was about and how the fruits were chosen.

Purim
The next holiday was to be Purim.  Patty called several meetings only to have no one show up and when one or two did, she met much resistance.  Without any cooperation, nothing came of this.  The combination of being disheartened and being involved in the other Purim events zapped a lot of momentum and thus when it came to Passover preparation, that just did not happen.

Where do we go from here?

Great question.  What we'd like to know is: is there still interest on the part of parents to move ahead with this or might you have suggestions on how to accomplish these goals?

Is anyone interested in doing a Shavuot BLINTZ-krieg?  On Shavuot it is customary to stay up all night studying and to eat dairy foods, especially popular are blintzes and cheesecake.  Shavuot is Saturday night, May 23rd.  If this is something in which you would be interested in participating and/or help planning, let me know.

We need you.  We need your input, your feedback, your advice and your participation.

B'Shalom,
Morah Judy

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Five Tips For a Better Passover Seder!

The following was reprinted from: , Jew in the City

The Seder is a wonderful experience but it can be far more fulfilling if the leader understands what he’s doing and if all members of the family and guests are involved. Here are some tips to get the most out of your Seder:

1. Do your homework. If you were giving a speech at work, wouldn’t you take the time to review your material? Wouldn’t you try to anticipate questions so that you could answer them? There’s no reason the Seder should be any different! Look through several Haggadahs and select one that works for you.  (We asked around for recommendations for some Haggadahs that are both filled with deep ideas and suitable even for beginners. We were told that the most popular ones in this category are by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Rabbi Avraham Twerski, and ArtScroll.)  Take the time to prepare some comments and divrei Torah based on the traditional commentaries – it goes a long way towards making the Haggadah more relevant! You can also use this helpful seder guide we found to supplement your Haggadah.

2. Don’t go it alone. There will be other people at your Seder, so why should the leader do absolutely everything? Getting others involved not only takes work off the leader’s shoulders, it engages the participants and is more interesting for everybody. Take turns reading and ask others to prepare divrei Torah in advance.

3. Encourage questions. The Talmud repeatedly tells us that the reason we do certain things at the Seder is “so the children will ask.” It’s not a race to get to the end of the book, it’s an opportunity to have a meaningful experience, so slow it down and take the time to talk about the things that the Haggadah says. (Some sample questions appear below.)

4. Use your skills. We each have unique talents and strengths – put yours to work making the Seder come alive. Are you a gifted singer? A master storyteller? An aspiring comedian? The Haggadah is not just the words on the page! Use your unique capabilities at appropriate times to make your Seder a personalized experience.

5. Eat something in advance. The famous “fifth question” of the Seder is “when do we eat?” It takes a while to get to the meal and people can get a little impatient. That’s not good for one’s ability to enjoy the Seder. Yes, the afternoon before Passover is hectic, but everyone will appreciate the Seder more if they take a break to eat something so they’re not famished at Seder time.

Four (More) Questions


What’s the difference between the wise son and the wicked son? 
The wicked son is criticized for saying “you,” thereby excluding himself from the group – but the wise son also says “you!” Why is he not likewise chastised? The reason is that the wise son’s question includes the words “Hashem our God.” We see from his choice of words that, unlike the wicked son, he still views himself as a part of the community.

What’s this chazeres stuff?
The Seder plate has a spot for maror – the bitter herbs – and a spot for chazeres – which is just more bitter herbs (typically romaine lettuce)! This is because maror is eaten twice during the course of the Seder. The Jerusalem Talmud explains “chazeres” as a vegetable that starts out sweet and turns bitter. This is symbolic of the Jews’ lives in Egypt, which started out well when Joseph was alive but then turned bitter with their servitude to Pharaoh.

Why would it have been enough?
The song “Dayeinu” is confusing. If God had brought us to Mount Sinai but not given us the Torah, it would have been enough? If He had not brought us into Israel, it would have been enough? Why would it have been enough to not receive the most essential things in Judaism? Actually, Dayeinu is the introduction to the psalms of praise we call Hallel. The intention of Dayeinu is to say, “Even if God had only done this, it would have been enough reason for us to sing the following songs of praise,” not to downplay our appreciation for any of God’s gifts.

Why is Pharaoh held responsible if God “hardened his heart?”
If you got a shock every time you reached for the light switch on Friday night, you’d eventually stop trying to turn on the lights. But doing so wouldn’t really be your choice! If you could ignore the shock, you might still turn on the lights. That’s what “hardening Pharaoh’s heart” means.” Pharaoh repeatedly said he would release the Jews because he was coerced by the plagues. What God did was He restored Pharaoh’s resolve. He gave Pharaoh the ability to withstand the plagues and do what he really wanted to do. Pharaoh is responsible because God “hardened his heart,” not  despite it!

Some further Passover reading on Jew in the City:
In the Haggadah we say “in every generation they rise against us to destroy us…and the Holy One, blessed be He, saves us from their hand.  How can the haggadah conclude the verse with this claim?  Haven’t we repeatedly not been saved?

We thank God for freeing us from slavery, but wasn’t He the One that put us there in the first place?

Why did He do it?!
Why does matza contain the secret to financial freedom?

What can we learn from matza in order to stop being so lazy?



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Jewish Education Can’t be Optional

by ; orginally posted on InterfaithFamily.com

For four years, we tried a day school education for our son. For the first two years, it worked. The secular education was excellent, our son’s Jewish identity blossomed, and his knowledge of Jewish history, texts, and the Hebrew language grew.

But our overall satisfaction with the education didn't mean that we thought the school was perfect. It wasn't, no school is. We wished there was a greater sense of community and felt that the Jewish studies program was too narrowly focused. But our son was thriving, so it was easy to overlook these issues.

In our son’s third year, the school put in place a new administration. It adjusted the secular curriculum and teaching style in a way that didn't work for our son. Now the lack of community and the prayer and language focus of the Judaic education nagged at us. Still, we gave the changes a chance. But by year four, it was obvious it was time for a change.

Moving from day school to a non-Jewish learning environment meant that our son would attend religious school starting in the fall. Some of our extended Jewish family and the day school administrators suggested that we let him skip it for a year since he would be ahead of the other students. I wouldn't consider it.


I didn't care that he was practically fluent in Hebrew. I didn't care that his understanding of the Torah was deeper than other children his age. I didn't care that weekday Hebrew and Sunday school might be filled with much drudgery. And I didn't care to listen to my son whine about going before he even attended a single class. He was going to religious school. Period. The end.

Continue reading.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Looking for some fun children's music?

Tu biShvat, Purim, Passover, lots of holidays are coming up.

Here's a fun website where you can go and listen with your child to songs for holidays and many more occasions:




Monday, January 5, 2015

2015 is here and January's a busy month

Shalom Chaveirim/Dear Friends,

Welcome back!  I hope everyone had a wonderful break, whether you were here in town working or traveling to far off places. 

With 2015 upon us, there’s a lot happening this month.


For starters, there’s a Tot Shabbat this Saturday, the 10th, at 9:30 a.m.  Other dates and activities this month:
           
            17th – Shabbat morning service led by grades 5-6-7 at 10 am
            18th – Story hour at 10 am
            23rd – Youth Service at 5:30 pm
            25th – Joining with OZ for Mitzvah Day of Service at OZ at 10 am, details at the end of this missive
            31st - Shabbat morning service led by grade 4 at 10 am

For adults:  Rabbi Glazier’s course on Reform Judaism begins this Sunday, the 11th, at 10 a.m. and it runs for 4 weeks. Contact the office to register.

Don’t forget to:
            Sign up to host an oneg
            Check out worship services when there are special guest speakers (see weekly email newsletter)
            Bring in food for the Food Shelf
            Send your child in to school with a food item or money for tzedakah
            Invite a family over for Shabbat

This Thursday we have an assembly at 6:00 for 2nd quarter check in on My Passport to a Jewish Year.  Please have your child bring in her/his passport with ‘mitzvahs’ for this quarter.

Mitzvah Day of Service

On January 25th our school and Ohavi Zedek’s Hebrew School are joining together for a day of service to benefit the Franklin County Humane Society.  There is going to be a special speaker and a short program at OZ at 10 a.m.  You will be assigned a pet food item to bring that day (separate email).  All the students will be making goody-bags for the pets at the shelter.

If your child has or had a pet, please bring a picture of that pet for our Animal Hall of Fame

7th grade students from both schools will make a presentation of their mitzvah projects, so students, please make a poster or trifold.

            
Here's hoping 2015 is a wonderful year for you and your family.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Happy Chanukah

Shalom Everyone,

With Chanukah starting at sundown on Tuesday, December  16th,  I thought I'd share with you the Virtual Hanukkiyah from ReformJudaism.org



It's lots of fun to light this with your family.  And while you're at their website, you can practice the blessings, find other Chanukah songs, latke recipes, how to play dreidel, customs, history and so much more.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Chanukah. חג החנוכה שמחה