JBuzz Musings June 28, 2013: UTT Herzliah St. Laurent building finally sold

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JEWISH ACADEMIC & UNIVERSITY NEWS

UTT Herzliah St. Laurent building finally sold

By Bonnie K. Goodman

After nearly two years the United Talmud Torahs of Montreal (UTT) announced on June 20, 2013 by email to their alumni that they have sold the school building that housed the UTT Elementary School and Herzliah High School Beutal campus…READ MORE
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JBuzz News June 13, 2013: JESNA: National Jewish education organization to shut its doors after 31 years

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JEWISH ACADEMIC & UNIVERSITY NEWS

National Jewish education organization to shut its doors after 31 years

Source: Jweekly.com, 6-13-13

The Jewish Education Service of North America will end its operations in July after 31 years. Established in 1982, JESNA has been downsizing for the past four years, in part due to declining allocations from the Jewish federation system….READ MORE

JBuzz News May 10, 2013: Chabad Jewish education center in Miami could be lost in foreclosure auction

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JEWISH ACADEMIC & UNIVERSITY NEWS

Chabad Jewish education center in Miami could be lost in foreclosure auction

Source: South Florida Business Journal, 5-10-13

The Lubavitch Education Center in Miami, where Jewish studies are taught from preschool through high school and rabbinical training, has been ordered to foreclosure auction….READ MORE

JBuzz News May 9, 2013: Mayanot Institute for Jewish Studies: Steer Towards the ‘On-Ramp’ to Jewish Education

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JEWISH ACADEMIC & UNIVERSITY NEWS

Steer Towards the ‘On-Ramp’ to Jewish Education

Students at Mayanot’s Women’s Program in class with Rabbi Mordechai Guth, right.

Students at Mayanot’s Women’s Program in class with Rabbi Mordechai Guth, right.

Nestled in the heart of Jerusalem, and long seen as an accessible starting point for young Jews looking to deepen their connections to their religion, the Mayanot Institute for Jewish Studies has had thousands pass through the doors of its campuses for young men and women since its founding more than a decade ago.

In response to requests from students and young adults who visit Israel as part of the 10-day Birthright Israel tours, Mayanot’s Jewish studies program will now offer an intensive crash course on “Judaism 101” for those with little or no prior Jewish education….READ MORE

Barry W. Holtz Reviews Jonathan Krasner: How One Man Samson Benderly Shaped American Jewish Education

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JEWISH ACADEMIC & UNIVERSITY NEWS

Barry W. Holtz Reviews Jonathan Krasner: How One Man Shaped American Jewish Education

Source: The Forward, 8-19-11

Visionaries: Samson Benderly (front row, second from right) at the 1907 Zionist convention in Tannersville, N.Y., with fellow delegates including Rabbi Judah L. Magnes (front row, left) and Solomon Schechter (front row, second from left).
Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America
Visionaries: Samson Benderly (front row, second from right) at the 1907 Zionist convention in Tannersville, N.Y., with fellow delegates including Rabbi Judah L. Magnes (front row, left) and Solomon Schechter (front row, second from left).

The Benderly Boys and American Education
By Jonathan Krasner
Brandeis University Press, 496 pages, $95

In the early years of the 20th century, Samson Benderly stood with the legendary figures of American Jewish life: He was recruited to New York by Judah Magnes; he knew Henrietta Szold and Barnett Brickner; he battled Solomon Schechter; he met regularly with his benefactor, Jacob Schiff, and his closest friend was Mordecai Kaplan. Indeed, Kaplan wrote of Benderly, “He is to me the most positive force in Jewish life today.”

Benderly, more than any other single individual, shaped the institutions of American Jewish education that we know today; but aside from historians of American Jewry and scholars of Jewish education, his name is virtually unknown. Now, Jonathan Krasner, an assistant professor of American Jewish history at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, has produced “The Benderly Boys and American Jewish Education” (Brandeis University Press, 2011), a prodigious and clear portrait of Benderly and his world.

It is not an exaggeration to say that this volume is the most important piece of historical writing about American Jewish education to have appeared in a generation. Although many fine scholars have written about various aspects of Jewish education in America, no one until now has taken such a comprehensive view of it. Krasner’s book delves deeply into the crucial period of the field — the 20th century — and contextualizes the history of American Jewish education both within Jewish life and within modern education. The wonderful collection of photographs on display throughout the book adds to its charm.

Benderly, born into a traditional Hasidic family in Safed, arrived in America in 1898 from Palestine. Though he came to Baltimore for medical studies, he was drawn to Jewish teaching and eventually left medicine to become an educator.

Benderly was a visionary and was capable of inspiring others to follow his vision. He developed around him a group of remarkable young people who shared his excitement about changing the face of American Jewish education. These were the “boys” of the book’s title: Alexander Dushkin, Isaac Berkson, Emanuel Gamoran and many others. Krasner also points out the importance of a group of “Benderly girls” (such as Rebecca Aaronson Brickner and Libbie Suchoff Berkson), many of whom had important careers in Jewish education, though most of them did not go into the work of institutional leadership, which was more characteristic of male career paths at the time. An excellent companion to this book, therefore, is the 2010 book “The Women Who Reconstructed American Jewish Education, 1910–1965” (Brandeis). Edited by Carol Ingall, it comprises portraits of influential female Jewish educators.

When Benderly began his work, Jewish education was a hodgepodge of disorganized institutions, profoundly incompetent teachers, nonexistent textbooks and undefined curricula. Studies were often conducted in “dilapidated, dark, stuffy, and often filthy conditions.” Benderly’s main mission was to organize, modernize and Americanize Jewish education. He was, despite his traditional upbringing, a cultural Jew, and he saw Jewish education in the light of Ahad Ha’am’s Zionist dream and his focus on Jewish peoplehood. Therefore, Benderly placed a strong emphasis on Hebrew-language acquisition, with a focus on the Hebrew of the modern world, not that of the synagogue and traditional texts. It was Benderly more than anyone else who promoted the “natural method” in Hebrew education, using the approach that has characterized the ulpan, or Hebrew language school, in Israel and “immersion” techniques in foreign language learning today that have a strong emphasis on conversation and comprehension in real-life situations. In addition, Benderly introduced “technology” into Jewish education, developing magic-lantern (an early type of image projector) slides to use in instruction on Jewish holidays and the Bible. (If he were alive today, it would be fair to assume that he would be promoting social media and the Internet as means for Jewish education.)

Benderly also insisted on a system for training and accrediting teachers. He wanted to apply the findings of educational “science” (what we today would call “research”) to Jewish education. And he strove to create an organized, centralized system of support for, and supervision of, Jewish education, dealing with curricula, standard hours and classroom environments. He also understood the importance of the “informal” aspects of education, and one of his disciples, Albert Schoolman, was the prime mover in creating what is arguably the greatest and most original contribution of American Jewish education: the summer educational camp. All this flowed from Benderly and his followers….READ MORE

Ohr Chadash Academy: New Modern Orthodox school opening in Baltimore

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EDUCATION NEWS

Source: Baltimore Jewish Times, 8-3-11

A new Modern Orthodox day school is opening in Baltimore three months after another shut down.

The Ohr Chadash Academy, which is opening Sept. 1, will be located at the Park Heights Jewish Community Center, where the Modern Orthodox Yeshivat Rambam held boys’ classes. Yeshivat Rambam closed in June because of financial problems.

Ohr Chadash will run from kindergarten through sixth grade and expects to have approximately 90 students in its inaugural school year, growing over the next two years to add seventh and eighth grades. The average class size to start will be about 14 students.

Shayna Levine-Heyfetz, a school board member, enrollment chair and art teacher, said Ohr Chadash will fill a niche in the Orthodox community vacated by Rambam.

“Rambam was the only school that espoused a philosophy of Modern Orthodox Judaism and the only school that provided a commitment to Jewish law and an excellent college preparatory program,” she said.

Levine-Heyfetz said 12 families have shown interest in sending their children to the Ohr Chadash kindergarten next year.

Orh Chadash teachers, who mostly are from Rambam, attended a weeklong training session in Brooklyn, N.Y., on catering to the individual needs of students. Ohr Chadash also has formed a partnership with Shemesh, a local organization dedicated to providing services and support for students with learning disabilities.

Levine-Heyfetz said Ohr Chadash will have an independent financial oversight committee to ensure fiscal responsibility. Committee members have backgrounds in nonprofit management and school finance.

In addition, the school has created a rabbinic advisory committee, chaired by Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president emeritus of the Orthodox Union, to ensure that Ohr Chadash remains connected to the community.

Students in grades 4 to 6 will have iPads that have been donated by benefactors. Each iPad will be loaded with free educational applications.

“The iPads will allow learning at the highest level,” said Noah Davidovics, the head of the technology department. “They will allow teachers to have activities directed at the students’ needs.”

Levine-Heyfetz is hoping that Ohr Chadash will become a staple in the local Orthodox community, like Rambam.

“Will it bring Modern Orthodox Jews back to Baltimore?” Levine-Heyfetz asked. “Time will tell.”

Civics studies in Israeli Schools to focus on Jewish democracy

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Source: YNet News, 7-20-11

Education Ministry approves controversial changes to high school civics curriculum which will emphasize historical justifications for State of Israel’s establishment

A new civics curriculum is underway after being approved by the Education Ministry on Monday. The new curriculum has a bigger emphasis on the connection between a Jewish and democratic state.

The program’s approval encountered a few obstacles due to a public battle between civics teachers and Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar who sought to introduce the change.

A source within the Education Ministry noted that while the alterations were relatively moderate, they definitely mark a change towards a more nationalistic and Jewish direction.

Secular, religious students to study civics together

Education Ministry pushing for new program in which religious, secular high schools will hold joint civics classes. ‘This requires a great deal of courage,’ program manager says — Full Story

The changes include additions like a historical introduction to the Balfour declaration and the UN’s partition plan in 1947.

The declaration of independence will be studied with an emphasis on the historical and international justification for the establishment of a Jewish State in Israel. There will also be an emphasis on the State of Israel as the Jewish people’s nation state while explaining it from the perspective of democratic values…READ MORE

Institute addresses Southern Jewish educational needs

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Source: Jewish Herald-Voice, 7-6-11

ISJL education fellows Michelle Blumenthal and Reva Frankel spend their time developing curriculum and programming for individual congregation and community needs.

Growing number of Houston-area congregations adopting ISJL’s congregational school curriculum

American Jewish communities, across movements and state lines, should be on the same page in terms of congregational-school curriculum, according to the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life.

The ISJL held its 10th annual education conference June 26-28 at its home base in Jackson, Miss. Nearly 160 attendees, representing 65 different congregations across a 13-state region, convened under the central theme of “Go and Teach: Tzei V’lameid.”

“The more diversity of congregations we have, the more opportunity we have to bring more minds to the table,” said ISJL director/CEO Macy B. Hart, in an interview with the JH-V.

The conference encouraged community-building and networking among ISJL’s diverse user base.

Attendees learned how to implement the institute’s innovative kindergarten through high school curriculum, which is based upon a secular education “standardization” approach that teaches a common body of Jewish knowledge to religious school students throughout the region.

Conference-goers participated in breakout sessions and specialty tracks geared toward school directors, new and veteran teachers and Hebrew instructors. They also worked with ISJL’s nine education fellows, who serve the institute’s communities throughout the year….READ MORE