Next week, 30 + members of my extended family will be traveling to Berlin for the opening of a new museum exhibit that features our family. This has been in the works for a while - essentially, one of the people highlighted in this exhibition is my great-great uncle, and his whole branch of the family tree was planning on going for the launch of the exhibit. Luckily, we’ve remained incredibly close, and so my branch of the family tree decided to go as well. We’re taking off next week for a trip that’s part Holocaust memorial, part reunion, and all [anticipated] hilarity.Read More
Rituals enable us to create community, develop shared meaning, and mark space and time as sacred and intentional. How can we as educators use Jewish + DIY rituals to create moments of impact?Read More
Positive Experiences - So much of what makes Judaism special for those of us who opt to actively integrate it into our lives are the visceral memories that rituals, songs, smells, and places bring up for us. I can be anywhere in the world but if I hear certain guitar chords I’m transported to youth group Shabbatonim, and when certain smells waft through the air I’m back at my childhood dinner table. Judaism, and the Jewish people, are more diverse than ever. While we can no longer assume that many formerly classic Jewish experiences are universal, we can create environments for our learners where their own formative, positive Jewish experiences can play out. How can we as educators make the experience of Jewish learning, education, and living a positive one that our learners will find value in?Read More
I believe that we’re missing a key piece of our mission as educators if we universally avoid tough issues and turn a blind eye to the realities facing our students, particularly high schoolers today. High school students are not the apathetic navel-gazers that so much of society stereotypes them as being. Rather, they’re ‘woke’ sophisticated thinkers, and they’re not waiting for our permission to take a stand on any and all issues. They’re jumping right in, on social media and in person, and we’re not doing them or ourselves any favors by leaving this reality outside of the purview of Jewish education.Read More
In the classic leadership book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey names Habit #2 as beginning with the end in mind. In order to know if we’ve been successful in our efforts, we need to envision what they are from the very beginning. And for educators, success is found in our students, and the impact that we’ve made on them through our work. So, today I invite you to join me in an exercise to identify the ideal outcomes for our learners so we can chart the course to success.Read More
I recognize that for many of us, the expectations of tefillah education are enormous, and overwhelming. We need to find ways to teach the skills deemed necessary for a b’nai mitzvah service to be considered successful, to build relationships between our students and content that is at once age-old and expected to be personally relevant, and often there’s a musical component, all thrown together with learners who are figuring out what all of this means. Ideally, we want tefillah to be more than a performance - more than the rote memorization and mumbling of sounds that don’t translate for our learners in any kind of comprehensible way. Prayer is something deeply personal, yet in Judaism it takes on a uniquely collective nature. In order to meet the needs of the individual and the community, here are my top tips for answering the question of…Read More
Three weeks into Elul and we're finally up to the ACTION component of the Jew Year's Resolutions process. This year in particular, I've so appreciated having the designated time of Elul to set intentions before jumping straight into action. Too often, I find that my to do lists and packed schedules mean that I go from action to action without pausing to take a breath and think about the why behind the what. It's way too easy for me to act, and Elul is the perfect antidote to that in that it offers the time and space to get ready, spiritually, mentally, and even physically, before the chagim.Read More
This week is REFLECTION.
After I prepared last week and set the space, I jumped into the questions. First, I focused on the positive by reflecting on my greatest achievements from the past year. This year has truly been an amazing one for me, full of growth and movement. Work-wise, the things I've been the most proud of have been building my professional portfolio and skill set, having my concept paper approved so that I'm one step closer to the completion of my doctorate, and the leadership roles I've been able to take on. Beyond that, this year has been all about healthy living for me, and I consider my new healthy lifestyle to be a huge achievement, particularly when thinking back to where I was a year ago. Physical and mental health have been a priority, and for me that means giving the relationships that matter to me first billing and reserving my time for the things and people that bring joy and added value to my life.Read More
My Elul PREPARATION:
First, I unplugged. I went outside, and in a rare move, left my phone and earbuds at home. I walked around my neighborhood, breathing in the damp post-rain smell, feeling the heat of the August sun, and listening to the sounds around me. My outside time is usually spent racing from place to place, with a phone call or a podcast in progress, so disconnecting was amazing for getting me into the headspace to be reflective.Read More
I hope that you'll join me in committing to personal Jewish growth this year. I'll be sharing my Jew Years Resolutions next week, and I invite you to do so as well. If you're interested in a spiritual hevruta/accountability buddy, simply fill out your name and email address and I'll be in touch with you to set up check in times throughout the year so we can hold each other accountable to our goals. This will give you 1:1 access to me, and exclusive gifts/resources/materials, all meant to help you achieve your dreams in 5779.Â
As the start of the new academic and Jewish year gets closer, I've been thinking a lot about the ways that we as educators can set ourselves up for success. The start of the new year brings with it the promise of renewal and change, and the chance to make choices that will further enable us to be our best selves moving forward. By taking steps to prepare in advance, we can ensure a strong start to the new year, and a foundation that we can build on to enable ourselves and our learners to flourish moving forward.Read More
As educators, the content that we curate for our learners gives us tremendous power to shape their minds and ultimately to influence their understandings of the world. It's an awesome responsibility, and one that I know we don't take lightly.Read More
I'm a Zionist. I believe in the Jewish right to self-determination in our ancient homeland. I believe that there's a unique relationship between the Jewish people and the land of Israel, forged over centuries of prayer, tears, blood, and love.Read More
Rather than limiting my 'Jewish travel' to trips to Israel or other 'classic' Jewish destinations, I love to find the connections in quirky and offbeat locations. I'd like to pass that on to the rest of you with these tips for bringing Jewish content to your travels.Read More
Jewish educator confession: sometimes we spend so much time creating experiences for others that our own practices and growth are pushed to the side and neglected. It's way too easy for incredible, passionate educators to get burnt out because they don't take care of their own Jewish needs. Taking on this project, while time consuming, was also a great gift, because it gave me a Jewish outlet that was completely my own, separate from the study that I did to create source sheets for work or to find new materials for my students.Read More
The brainchild of Martin Seligman, positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life the most worth living, emphasizing the factors that contribute to a well-lived and fulfilling life. Positive psychology has been shown to produce improvements in well-being and to lower depression levels when applied. So as Jewish educators, with the mission of bringing value-add to the lives of our learners, how can we integrate positive psychology principles into our work in such a way that allows Judaism to be the vehicle for wellness and happiness?Read More
As American Jews, how can we use American Independence Day to bring together these dual parts of our identities? Particularly in the current political climate, there are a lot of conversations happening about both American and Jewish values, including how they mesh with each other, what happens when they stand in contradiction, and how they each manifest for us individually, and collectively in society.Read More
Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah), the Danish idea of coziness and comfort, is currently trendy, but also timeless. So many of the principles and hallmarks of hygge are mirrored in Jewish tradition, culture, and ritual. How can hygge, the concept credited with making the Danes the happiest people in the world, be a Jewish practice?Read More
Why do you give so much of yourself to your students, to your colleagues, to the Jewish people?
Why do you spend your 'free' time reading, studying, questioning, searching for more and more information and awareness of your content?
Why are you so proud of the work that you do, paid and unpaid, for the betterment of the Jewish people?Read More
Israel connects Jews through hearts, minds, and in many cases, tastebuds. How can we use the diverse, incredible, and ever-changing cuisine of Israel to help our learners find new ways to connect with the Jewish State?Read More