Thursday, June 30

The Shoah in Christian Schools

How is the Holocaust taught in fundamentalist Christian Schools, and how does that study impact the way the students view Jews and Judaism?
TCR reports...

Wednesday, June 29

God in the Classroom

The recent US Supreme Court split decisions on First Ammendment issues may generate renewed interest in the role of religion in public schools. An interesting new book is under review in TCR:
Does God Belong in Public Schools? by Kent Greenawalt
An insightful and very helpful discussion on the role of religion in public education. Much of the book deals with constitutional issues, but the larger section deals with curricular topics, where constitutional analysis takes a back seat to understanding what is at issue educationally. Greenawalt argues that the historical and continuing cultural importance of religion gives educators strong reason to include religious perspectives in courses, much more than they now do. In particular, he shows that religion has an appropriate and important role in the study of history, civics, literature, and economics. He also argues that “text and teachers that discuss general perspectives on value questions should not, explicitly or implicitly, foreclose the appropriateness of religious approaches” for to do so would impoverish ducation.

Click here for full review...

Tuesday, June 28

Aggada Index

Online index to commentaries on all Talmudic Aggadot.
Click here...

Monday, June 27


Most teachers love teaching, but teaching is often not so easy to love. True, the profession is gaining respect: in 2003, 49 percent of adults thought teaching was a profession with "very great" prestige; in 1977, only 29 percent thought so. But teachers' salaries are well below what similarly educated professionals expect. The average salary for a teacher in 2003 was $45,771.

About 20% of teachers hold second jobs. Where could we get more money for salaries? NYT suggests an interesting idea...

Sunday, June 26

Bang for the Buck?

On the high price of Jewish education...

Friday, June 24

Safah veSefer

"Every translation is also a conversion that changes the text. There never was a great Jewry that believed it could transmit Judaism in translation."
  • On the sad state of Hebrew in North America--click here.
  • "Shavua HaSefer" as a barometer of the state of Hebrew lit--click here.

Thursday, June 23

Seurat in Shul

What does this picture have to do with davening?

Seurat, "Bathers at Asnieres" (1883-84)

Click here to find out...

Tuesday, June 21

Book Zone

The World Council for Torah Education's redesigned website features a "Book Zone" which provides access at discount prices to a large number of educational books published by Eliner Press and by Chemdat (Center for Religious Education in Israel). The books include works for teachers on methodology and philosophy, as well as a variety of workbooks for students.
Click here...

Monday, June 20

What Year Is This?

The Chronicle of Higher Education asks:

Ever since the first Jew arrived on American shores 350 years ago, one question has persistently been asked but never definitively answered. Should Jews accommodate themselves to the culture of the United States, even if so doing carries the risk of serious, sometimes fatal revisions to the traditions that have long defined Judaism? Or should preservation of the traditions come first, even if that means never really fitting into American culture as other groups, primarily Christian, have done?. . . No matter how important it may be for Jews to focus on their own identity so that their Judaism does not disappear, I hope they do not do so in ways that would further undermine the survival of a form of American culture that speaks to the mind and the heart the way the culture of the great Jewish-American synthesis did over the past half-century.

Good grief! Can someone tell them how outdated these questions are?
Click here for full essay.

Sunday, June 19

Gush Tanakh Yemei Iyyun

The annual Tanakh Yemei Iyyun at Yeshivat Har Etzion's Michlelet Hertzog will take place in Alon Shvut on July 11-14 (the final day being a choice of 11 tiyulim).

Registration deadline is July 3rd.
Download the program and registration materials from here.

Friday, June 17

Are Jews Smarter? II

The Jewish Week covers the Ashkenazi intelligence gene study (follow-up from here).
Click here.

Thursday, June 16

Who Killed Culture?

"Culture is good for your character, and a respectable person should spend time absorbing the best that has been thought and said. The middlebrow impulse in America dates at least to Ralph Waldo Emerson and the belief that how one spends one's leisure time is intensely important. Time spent with consequential art uplifts character, and time spent with dross debases it."
NYT Op-Ed page in praise of "middlebrow culture"...
Does his arguement fit in with contemporary Torah u-Madda debates?

Wednesday, June 15

Are Jews Smarter?

The Economist asks about natural selection and Ashkenzai Jews.
Read here.

Tuesday, June 14

Emotion Notions

So a professor of education takes a leave from his job to go into the trenches and teach elementary school for a year. While there he keeps a log of his emotions. What does he find? Teachers get so fixated on what doesn't work that they can't figure out why it's not working...
The findings show both functional and dysfunctional dimensions of the teacher's emotional experience. The article suggests that the self-accusatory stance of teachers diverts teachers' attention from structural problems in their working conditions and, instead, focuses attention on the inadequacies of teachers as individuals. Furthermore, the paper suggests that it is from the collective naming and examination of emotions that teachers may be able to learn to accept and understand the darker emotions of teaching.

Click here.

Friday, June 10

Only Funny If You're a Jewish Educator...

Pardon the crassness, but this just in from the "harei hem ke-vanekha" department...

Thursday, June 9

Jewish Action (Summer 2005)

The new issue of Jewish Action just went online, with a feature on Orthodox life in "small-town" America.
Of note is an essay by Rabbi Abraham J. Twersky on gambling amongst Orthodox Jews.

Wednesday, June 8

A's All Around?

"Why was I given a B as my final grade?" demanded a student of his teacher via e-mail. "Please respond ASAP, as I have never received a B during my career as a studnet and it will surely lower my GPA." Tuition at a private college runs, on average, nearly $28,000 a year. If parents pay that much, they expect nothing less than A's in return. "Therefore, if the teacher gives you a B, that's not acceptable because the teacher works for you. I expect A's, and if I'm getting B's, I'm not getting my money's worth." Read on...

Monday, June 6

Medina Meaning

On this 38th Yom Yerushalayim we're still wondering about the religious meaning of the State. Rabbi Yehuda Henkin explores different views and offers his own unique approach to the subject.
Click here. Discuss here.

Courtesy of Yasher's Open Access Project.

Sunday, June 5

For Yom Yerushalayim

We link to a VBM sicha by Rav Yehuda Amital to give you food for thought on Erev Yom Yerushaliyim or Israel Day Parade Day (depending on where you may be). Click here...

For their special Yom Yerushalayim "journal", click here...

Thursday, June 2

Settlement vs. Justice

The relationship between the Religious Zionist community's vision in the social sphere and its vision concerning settlement is a subject that presents a dual challenge. Firstly, this community is wholeheartedly committed to both ideals. Although a certain tension exists between the two, we dare not relinquish either one of them.

Secondly, from a practical point of view, the two spheres are connected. On the one hand, it is clear that matters of national security and foreign policy have an enormous impact on our ability to create a just society, a society that can flourish both socially and economically. The absence of a sense of security, and the absence of a reality that is secure, creates a most significant disruption. Thus, while security is certainly important in its own right, it is also a factor facilitating proper economic and social activity.

We may also say the opposite: the welfare of society is a significant value in its own right, but it is also a critical element in security and foreign policy. Society's determination and inner strength is crucial if we are to maintain our hold on Eretz Yisrael – any and all parts of it.

We dare not forego either of these two values...

R. Aharon Lichtenstein explains...

Wednesday, June 1

Guide Online

The 1904 Friedlander English translation of Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed is online as a searchable PDF download. It wasn't the best translation, but it was the first complete English edition (and still widely used). The ability to search is very, very useful.
Click here...