JBuzz News July 18, 2012: Golda Och Academy Adds Choice to Revamped Judaic Studies Department

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Golda Och adds choice to Judaic studies dept.

Day school revamps curriculum to reflect trend for flexibility

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Flora Yavelberg, Judaic studies chair at Golda Och Academy, said the day school’s new curriculum aims to increase the flexibility while maintaining rigorous text study.

A core curriculum, two Judaic studies courses per semester, a competency exam, and an independent senior project: It sounds like a college admissions pitch.

But for high school students at Golda Och Academy in West Orange, a beneficiary agency of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, it’s a brand-new program set to begin in the fall. In a total revamping of the day school’s Judaic studies curriculum, students will be able to take more electives in Tanach (Bible) and Jewish thought and tradition after taking core courses during their freshman year (see sidebar).

School administrators say the revised curriculum has been developed solely for GOA by faculty and administrators, but also with various outside influences….READ MORE

JBuzz February 6, 2012: Tu B’Shvat 2012: Ecology Study Opportunities

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Tu B’Shvat Ecology Study Opportunities, 2012

Source: Green Prophet, 2-6-12

sviva israel childrenThe 15th day of the Jewish month of Shavat signals the launching of new Jewish eco-education programs. A potent mystical, ecological, legal and historical mix  runs through Tu B’Shvat, a date known as the New Year For The Trees.

For more on the meaning of Tu B’Shvat, read this post. According to Jewish tradition, it’s the day on which each tree is judged as to the amount of water it will receive over the year. It’s also the cut-off date when determining the age of the tree. As man is compared to “the tree of the field,”  Tu B’Shvat is a good day to inaugurate ecology studies. Jewcology’s Year of Jewish Learning on the Environment.

Jewcology, a project which provides materials and tools to support the Jewish environmental movement, announced today that it will launch a “Year of Jewish Learning on the Environment” from Tu b’Shevat 5772 until Tu b’Shevat 5773.  (Feb. 7-8, 2012 – Jan. 25-26, 2013). Jewcology will launch the resources in coordination with Canfei Nesharim, its parent organization. Jewcology invites Jewish organizations, including websites, publications, and communities, to join its “Year of Jewish Learning on the Environment.” To learn more  and for a full schedule of topics and posting dates, email info@jewcology.com.

Sviva Israel’s Eco Connection programs in 15 different cities  in Israel, the United States and South Africa.

Implemented in over 50 schools in Israel and the U.S.A, Sviva Israel partners schools to learn together how they impact the environment. We ensure the success of the Eco Connection with teacher training and onsite support and exciting workshops from our staff throughout the school year.

The curriculum includes lessons on the Ecological Footprint, Jewish Environmental traditions and Israeli Clean-Tech innovations, workshops on Judaism and the Environment, Alternative Energy, Eco crafts, video conferences and joint events for visiting students.

Learn how your school or community can join the Eco Connection, the largest global environmental network of Jewish schools. Contact: Carmi Wisemon, Executive Director, Carmi@svivaisrael.org Tel. 1-212- 444-1504

This year, Tu B’Shvat falls this coming Tuesday night, the 7th of February, lasting through Wednesday.

More on environmental education in Israel, and Tu B’Shvat:

JBuzz January 15, 2012: Brazil approves Jewish studies agreement with Israel

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Brazil approves Jewish studies agreement with Israel

Source: JTA, 1-15-12

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff approved an agreement to allow students, teachers and researchers in Brazil to teach and research the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and other Jewish-related subjects.
Under the agreement, Hebrew-language and Jewish themes such as the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and intolerance will be part of curricula in some schools, universities and other educational institutions in Brazil.

As part of an inter-country exchange, Portuguese will be taught in academic circles in Israel. Several scholarships will support the exchange.

The agreement is the result of a longtime effort by Osias Wurman, Israel’s honorary consul in Rio and ex-president of the Rio de Janeiro State Jewish Federation.

“Teaching the Holocaust in Brazilian schools is key in a moment when revisionist waves grow, notably from the Iranian government, which try to wipe the memory for future generations,” Wurman told JTA. “We must shed light on the past in order to clear the future.”

The Brazilian-Israeli agreement was signed initially in 2008, approved by the Brazilian Congress in 2010, and eventually sanctioned by the presidency this week to aid in “developing and strengthening the friendship ties between both countries.”
Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, attended a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony less than one month after she started her term one year ago.

“The Holocaust is not and will never be just a historic moment. The duty of the memory should not be mistaken for passiveness of the ordinary remembrance,” she said at the time.
“Memory is the human weapon to prevent the repetition of the barbarism. We must not allow any kind of human rights violation in any country, and especially in Brazil. The Jewish tradition and dignity integrate the Brazilian nationality in a special way.”

Reuven Feuerstein: Israeli’s Nobel Prize nod gains momentum

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Intellectuals worldwide aim to see renowned psychologist Prof. Reuven Feuerstein win Nobel Peace Prize

Source: Ynet News, 6-12-11

What do a Muslim sheikh from Hebron, a world renowned Venetian intellectual and dozens of professors from the world over have in common with a Jewish educator? They all want the latter to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Several dozen prominent intellectuals will convene in Jerusalem Monday, with the intention of devising a plan meant to see Prof. Reuven Feuerstein become a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

The Nobel Prize Committee has already received a recommendation on Feuerstein’s behalf, for which he said he was honored.

Feuerstein, 90, is a world-renowned clinical, developmental and cognitive psychologist. His lifelong work in developing applied theories in the fields of structural cognitive modifiability, mediated learning experience, deficient cognitive functions, dynamic assessment of learning propensity and shaping modifying environments, to name a few, has been recognized worldwide, and he is considered to be at the top of his field.   In 1992, Feuerstein was awarded the Israel Prize for Social Sciences.

“Since they don’t give a Nobel Prize for education, dad was recommended for the Peace Prize,” Rabbi Raffi Feuerstein, the professor’s son, explained.

“His supporters say that his work saves lives, so he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, especially when there are precedents for people receiving Nobels outside their discipline.”

Prof. Feuerstein’s methods have found their way to the Amazonas, Rwanda and even the Eskimos, and are now prevalent in Hebron as well: “We visited Hebron and saw the children’s needs there. We are now developing special programs for them,” he said.

According to Yedioth Ahronoth, the learning center in Hebron is one of the reasons one of the most enthused advocates for Feuerstein’s Nobel candidacy is Sheikh Jabbari Farid Khider – one of the city’s most prominent religious figures.

“We also have Gaza in mind,” the professor said. “We want them to send teachers to us and we will train them on how to teach children suffering from genetic disorders.”

Israel to introduce revamped Jewish studies curriculum in state schools

Source: Ha’aretz, 6-24-10

The educational curriculum in state-run institutions for this coming school year will include a new subject: Jewish culture and tradition. Initially, the subject will be taught in grades 6-8 for a period of two hours per week, and then expanded to additional grades.

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar
Photo by: Emil Salman

The new subject will include lessons on Jewish culture, the Hebrew calendar and “the Jewish people’s connection to the Land of Israel.” In addition, students in the sixth grade will be required to learn the weekly Torah portion; students in seventh grade will be taught the order of prayers in the Jewish liturgy; eighth graders will undergo instruction in Pirkei Avot (Sayings of the Fathers ); and ninth graders will delve into Theodor Herzl’s novel “Altneuland.”

“Six books from the Jewish-Zionist bookshelf will be taught throughout these years and students will have direct encounters with complete classical works,” said Professor Benjamin Ish-Shalom, who heads the educational steering committee in charge of administering the new coursework.

Critics, however, are warning that the syllabus is problematic. According to one professor, the choice of holy texts to be taught creates “an opening for dangerous indoctrination.”

“Pirkei Avot and the weekly Torah portion are part of the canons of religious society, so why should a secular youth study these?” said Bar-Ilan University Professor Avi Sagi. “This will only further alienate [students] from these subjects.”…READ MORE