Shana Tova! I hope everyone had a wonderful summer. The school year is well underway for many and just getting started for others. We had a very busy summer here at ShalomLearning: training teachers (with now over 600 registered in our growing community of practice) and checking in with all of our partner sites (at almost 100 synagogues reaching 5000 students) to ensure everyone has the tools, resources, and support needed to be successful in and beyond the classroom.
We’re still glowing from the impact of our training sessions at NewCAJE in Hartford, and from our training days in Chicago, Davie, Rockville, and Los Angeles. We’ve heard wonderful feedback from these sessions as well from the webinars. We’re constantly impressed by the ideas and visions for the future of Jewish education shared in these workshops and are very proud of the growing supportive culture within the ShalomLearning community.
But don’t just follow my opinion. (I love the work that we do!) The Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, has just released the first study of its kind, evaluating the past two years of our program. It has been an incredibly exciting journey to innovate in Jewish Supplementary School Education (its what we do) – something long forgotten by much of the Jewish philanthropic world. Once upon a time, and not long ago, too many Jewish families dismissed Hebrew School as mediocre at best and inaccessible and irrelevant in their busy lives. We work tirelessly to ensure 21st century Jewish education doesn’t make the same mistakes of the last 50 years. But, you can access the full report online here.
I hope our curriculum’s value of “Teshuvah” is a growing term of relevance in yours lives as we are in the Ten “Days of Awe” between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. This is the time to reflect on how you can “return” to our best selves, your loved ones, and your Creator.
At ShalomLearning, we take this time to not only enter our own introspection, but also on how we can improve as an organization.
One of our team’s greatest strengths comes from listening to feedback and channeling that information to find ways to improve.
I look forward to another year of working together with all of you in the ShalomLearning community to continue to make Jewish education more accessible and engaging for everyone.
Tisha B’Av, literally the ninth day of the month of Av, begins this year the evening of Saturday, July 21st. Its observance is frequently overlooked because it falls in the middle of the summer. If, like many people, you know very little about this holiday, here is a good background from MyJewishLearning.
We also suggest watching this video from Aleph Beta that explains how to keep this holiday relevant.
As a day of mourning, it’s customary to fast on Tisha B’Av. In addition, one should refrain from eating meat (except on Shabbat) for the nine days leading up to Tisha B’Av. Check out all of the meatless recipes from the Joy of Kosher to make meal planning easier.
This year, Shavuot begins the Saturday evening May 19. ReformJudaism.org provides a great basic summary of the holiday.
It is a tradition in some communities for people to stay up all night studying. Here is an explanation of the custom from My Jewish Learning.
If staying up all night is not your thing, how about reading the Book of Ruth on Shavuot? Here is a video from Aleph Beta explaining why we read this text on this holiday.
Shavuot is unique among the Jewish holidays in that instead of eating chicken or brisket, it is traditional to have dairy foods for Shavuot. There are actually many different reasons given for this custom. Here are a few from Chabad.
Chag Shavuot Sameach – however you celebrate!
We are just days away from Passover, so I hope you find this letter as a welcome break from the chores of preparing for this holiday.
Now in our 6th Jewish value unit, our students are currently studying, Koach Hadibbur, the power of words. There could not be a better time for them to explore the Jewish roots in this value.
As we saw in this past weekend’s “March for Our Lives,” words matter. Words can hurt but words can also heal. With words, we can gather people, we can take a stand, and we can make change. The next generation is learning how to use their words to fight for what they believe in. It’s not just about making your point, but making your goals clear in a way others will listen. And listening to those on the other side. A lot easier said (or heard) then done.
We keep Koach Hadibbur in mind as we plan our professional development. As you will see in this month’s newsletter, we have scheduled our Summer Training Conferences where we will help our educators prepare for the fall and provide opportunities for our educators to share experiences. It’s through these conversations we all improve and build community.
We are excited to be able to sponsor ShalomLearning educators’ attendance at this summer’s NewCAJE9 conference. It’s a wonderful experience to grow, learn, and build together.
I hope you have a wonderful Pesach. Chag kasher v’sameach.
Many of you may still be clearing away snow, but Passover is just around the corner. Here are some ideas to make your holiday more meaningful.
Is your family is more traditional? Author Jonathan Safran Foer has compiled a haggadah with traditional text accompanied by essays written by other modern Jewish writers.
Do you buy a roasted shank bone for your seder plate? Ready to try roasting one of your own? Here’s how you can do it yourself. Also, you shouldn’t have to go a week without brownies, so here is a kosher for Passover (and gluten free) brownie recipe.
And just when you think you have learned everything you need to know, here are 9 things you didn’t know about Passover from MyJewishLearning.