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Let Your Students Go

Students are longing for the connection that they would get at home with their families. Although many college students might miss home, they do not come to college to recreate their home life or to find surrogate parents while they are away; they come to grow and develop their personal identity. My experience has shown me that in order to work with these students, I need to play an integral role in facilitating their own processes. I do not tell them what to do.

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A Teacher and Her Mentor Reflect on the Same Year

What are the similarities and differences between how a teacher and a mentor perceive strengths, weaknesses and growth? Read these two complementary pieces to see one example of what each values and how reflection plays and important part in the process of learning together and developing as professionals.

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The unity of the hands

To Sustain a Life is to Sustain a Community

I seek out individuals in the community and interview them in order to write their Jewish stories. Through this experience, I have learned that the community is more than just a sum of its parts. The single lives sustained by the Jewish community are the real source of sustenance for the communal structure.

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Eilu D’varim: These are the Things

Through Torah study, we gain a rich and meaningful life. But what happens when the study of Torah is daunting? When learning Hebrew seems impossible? When the timing of classes just doesn’t fit into the schedule?

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My Students Are My Teachers

I once had a professor who lectured to the air. This professor encompassed boundless knowledge I wished to learn, but when he taught, he was oblivious to the students.

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Kaved et aviv v’et imo: Honoring Another’s Mother and Father

In the Decalogue, we’re taught to honor our father and our mother. Each of us honors our parents in different way…but what happens when your role is to honor someone else’s father and mother?

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A House of Prayer for All People

Long ago there was a farmer who lived with his small Jewish family on the outskirts of a tiny village. Each day, the farmer would get up at daybreak, tend to his livestock, then gaze upon his small plot of land and utter a prayer. It was a simple prayer that would have been acceptable in any house of worship, but he always said it with unrivaled sincerity.

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Worthy of a Voice: An Exhibit on the Persecution of People with Disabilities

By Ariel Naveh   Robert Wagemann was born in 1937 in Mannheim, Germany. As a result of a hip injury sustained at birth, Robert was permanently disabled. During what seemed like a routine check-up with his doctor, Robert’s mother Lottie overheard the doctor’s plans to “put him to sleep” because of his disability. Fortunately, Lottie and Robert […]

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Understanding Social Change in Israel from an American Perspective

As an American, while it has been difficult for me to understand the system of change here despite my knowledge of social change and social justice methods, I’ve come to learn a few things about social change in Israel.

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How Do You Make a Rabbi?

I did not realize at first how everything this year is pointing towards integration, but when I lay it all out, I cannot help but see an intense drive toward creating fullness and unity. Often, I find it difficult to comprehend this movement towards integration when I am caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities of each of the individual components of my various projects; it is hard to see the forest for the trees. To see how all the pieces of my life are asking me to create unification, I must take a step back. When I catch a glimpse of that ideal, I feel less divided myself.

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Shaarey Zedek

Religious School Inaction or Religious School in Action?

The process began with a massive marketing effort to explain, first, that Project Tikkun Olam was not a day off from school but a day “on.” Even though children were leaving the traditional classroom, our day of action offered an opportunity to further one of the guiding principles of our school: “One who learns in order to teach will be able both to learn and to teach. But, one who learns in order to practice, will be able to learn, to teach, to observe and to practice” (Rabbi Ishmael in Pirkei Avot 4:6).

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Not for Self but…: Sacred Service Meets Military Service

There is work, and there is service, and I learned the difference during those few years in the United States military. Being a rabbi was a way of life and not a way to earn a living. Being a Naval chaplain was not merely a way of life but a giving over of my life to the service of my country.

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Appreciative Inquiry: Powerful Tool for Service-Learners

In every organization there is something that works. In every organization people are eager to share their positive connections to the organization. In every organization people are comfortable on the journey toward the future when they bring with them the very best of the past.

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Eating with our Intellectual Rivals: Partnership and Tikkun Olam

In the Jewish community, we can no longer ignore the strict division between organizations. Our clients deserve better relationships between the organizations with which they affiliate. We need to act not in the best interest of self-preservation, but in the best interests of our clients and the Jewish people as a whole.

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Galilee Circus

רב הקרקס

ילדים יהודים שפחדו לבקר בכבר ערבי – עכשיו מגיעים כמה פעמים בשבוע, ובלי היסוס מתארחים בבתי חבריהם בקרקס. הקרקס בהחלט הצליח ליצור מכנה משותף תרבותי, שפה משותפת, אמון הדדי – במקום שקודם לא היו אלה קיימים

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Servant Leadership in the Presidency of Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D.

The servant leadership model was introduced by Robert Greenleaf in his 1970 book, “The Servant as Leader.” This particular leadership framework is built around ten operational principles, including the following concepts: the importance of listening; the art of persuasion; a heightened sense of empathy; self-awareness; and a capacity to think beyond the immediate challenges by providing a longer term perspective (conceptualization). According to Greenleaf, “The servant-leader is servant first … It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.”

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A Yahelnik teaching English in school. Photo credit: Savyonne Steindler

Relationships Make Change: Sacred Service-Learning in Israel

We spent two mornings a week discussing Jewish texts, philosophy, social work, anthropology, and most of all social change. Our experience would not be complete without the supplemental discussions that frequently illustrated that while we were all committed to our work in Gedera, it was mostly our relationships with community members that created social change rather than any specific project on which we worked.

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A Moment Like This: Thoughts on Work, Faith, and Presence

I noticed one client, Charice, curiously standing on the outskirts, waiting her turn. Finally, she had her chance: “I wasn’t here when you left, but surely you remember me. Charice Johnson! DC Jail!”

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Becoming a Servant

The goal of the ’oved Hashem is primarily to (discern and to) do God’s will, to live a life of avdut, service. The dispositional goal of service-learning, then, is to transform individuals not into problem solvers or world repairers, but, first and foremost, into servants.

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Service-Learning: A Philosophy of Jewish Day School Education

A Jewish day school’s curriculum for teaching Jewish values can speak volumes. How these values manifest themselves in relationships between learners and educational leaders, how they are demonstrated in classroom management and discipline, and how they factor into social action programs can indicate if the school considers Judaism to be a value added or a core value of the school.

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