Life Project

In 16th C. Italy, schools training students of sculpture, architecture and painting began instructing their students to develop progetti, scale models of their ideas. This allowed for delightful moments of creativity, expression, risk taking and learning. Without realizing it, what these schools were doing was creating one of the most powerful tools in education from…

Are We Good Students?

One of the signs of successful education is “transfer of learning”. In short, “transfer of learning” is what happens when a student brings something they’ve learned in the past into current learning or into real world application. The composers of Jewish liturgy understood this and so they utilized phrases from the Tanakh that contained vital…

The Lessons of Sacrifice

We do not just learn from books, lectures or films. Whether or not we realize it, what we learn most profoundly is what we learn from our actions. This insight is what drives ritual performance in many religious traditions. The International Encyclopedia of Social Sciences explains that rituals, at their best, can effect cognitive and…

Are You Wise?

There are many dilemmas and debates boiling over in our country at this moment in time. In truth, there are always challenging decisions that confront us individually and as a society. Now, however, there is an acuteness to them that is indeed unique. Everything from pandemic responses and police reform, to personal decisions about how…

Festival of Faith

Emunah/Faith is a muscle like any other. It gets stronger the more we exercise it but it can also become strained when it must carry a cumbersome burden for too long. The seventh day of Passover brings with it a moment that helps address both of these aspects of a life of faith. As we…

“The Season of Our Freedom” in Isolation

At its most basic level, Passover celebrates the ability to leave. This is why the stirring history of the Israelites’ liberation from slavery under the ancient Egyptians is called in Hebrew, yetziat mitzrayim, the leaving from Egypt. Thus, we are all met with a deep irony this year as we celebrate Passover in a context…

“We Are Groot”

It’s a classic line from a classic scene. Towards the end of Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” the team of protagonists finds themselves in a space ship hurdling through the atmosphere in what will surely be a catastrophic crash landing. In the few remaining moments before the ship collides with the surface, Groot (a sentient…

An Education from the Trees

(Prepared for Pedagogy of Partnership) Rabbi Abba was once meditating upon the characteristics of a tree, the Zohar tells us. He observed the growth of fruit, leaves and birds flying from its boughs. Suddenly he had an insight, began to cry, and declared, “if people only knew what secrets these things hinted at, they would…

Hanukkah: A Miraculous Season

Popular children’s literature is a great way to get a sense of where society is at about certain issues. For example, in two mainstream children’s books about Hanukkah, a “miracle” is described as “something amazing that makes you glad you are alive” and “something wonderful that happens that you didn’t think was possible.” What both…

A Jewish American Thanksgiving

(This article was first published in Kodesh Moment, Fall 2017) On October 3rd, 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation declaring a day of Thanksgiving to take place on the coming November 26th. According to the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, “Washington declared that the necessity for such a day sprung from the Almighty’s care of…