Sunday, July 31

R. Mordechai Breuer's Scholarship

Gil Student at Hirhurim has a good round-up of online essay's re: biblical scholarship/criticism and R. Mordechai Breuer's approach. Click here...
See also the ATID Journal.

Friday, July 29

Summer Diversions II

Thursday, July 28

MI2: Scientific Blah-Blah?

In a follow-up to last week's article, TCR explores the science behind Multiple Intelligence theory. Click here...

Monday, July 25

Summer Diversions

Sunday, July 24

Failures of PC?

The word "fail" should be banned from use in British classrooms and replaced with the phrase "deferred success" to avoid demoralizing pupils, a group of teachers has proposed. Click here...

Friday, July 22

MI, Homeschooling & Pop-Culture

TCR runs a few interesting articles this week:

Why Homeschooling Continues to Grow? Overview of the strengths of the modern homeschool movement and why the choice continues to attract families.

Multiple Intelligences Theory After 20 Years Describes the theory of multiple intelligences and critiques of MI; commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Howard Gardner's publication.

Book Review Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter (see also here)

Thursday, July 21

1000 Words

At Lamed we try to stay a-political, but found this picture of Tefillat Mincha in Kfar Maimon to be very moving.

Wednesday, July 20

R. Lichtenstein on Decisive Times

This is now in English--in Haaretz. Click here (with background here).

[There is an] impression that the army has surrendered the public relations war for the hearts and minds of the soldiers, and that having abandoned the field of reasoned argument, it is compelled to resort to force of authority. If that is the case, we can only be deeply saddened, as we want to believe that the strength and vigor of the IDF is largely a factor of its moral and spiritual level.
A fair share of unneeded, regrettable and disappointing statements have been made. I do not think, Heaven forbid, that there is any aspiration here to crush or to oppress the national-religious public, but in the effort to achieve a position of superiority, a mistake in judgment was undoubtedly made. Yet this is not the main issue that should now be engaging the rabbis of religious Zionism, and we must not be blinded by any aspects of it. At a time, hours or weeks, which could be critical to the future of the state and its residents, it is the responsibility of those who reject insubordination, to rise above obstacles and hurdles, correctly state our position, and prevent any erosion of our ranks - even in the absence of a consensus on the disengagement initiative itself.
There is also an internal price, which the national-religious public is paying. National unity is not only a need of the army or the state; it is a social and spiritual need of the Torah- and mitzvah-observant public itself. The values of unity of the Jewish people and the obligation of mutual responsibility were not brought to the beit midrash (house of Torah study) from foreign fields. They were spawned under the canopy of the Torah. This is the case for the entirety of the Jewish people in its carries even more weight in the Land of Israel, where the organic existential connection is conspicuous.
I hope that it is clear that my stand does not stem from any lack of feeling when it comes to the problem of the disengagement and its difficulties. We face a painful phenomenon, to which there are three sources of pain. The Holy Land is apt to lose one of its bodily organs; the people are being torn to shreds; and several thousand citizens, who are faithful to their heritage and devoted to their homeland, are liable to suffer a heavy blow to their spiritual world and lose their homes and communities alike. Clearly, all of these considerations have to be weighed by the decision-makers, and I hope that was the case. But once the die is cast and the order is given, unless the government changes its mind, a soldier who has the privilege of serving in the Israel Defense Forces must do his duty, contribute his part and pray that the Holy One blessed be He will not abandon His people and not leave His land and will arrange events for the best.

Tuesday, July 19


R. Aharon Lichtenstein on hitnatkut ve-sarvanut (withdrawal from Gaza and civil Disobedience), in Hebrew click here. (Coming soon in English.)
R. Lichtenstein and R. Amital's letter to students, click here...

Monday, July 18

Sinai vs. Oker Harim?

Increasingly powerful computer and web assists to memory raise a question never before conceivable: Why struggle to remember anything? After an Oral Tradition passed to a Written Tradition, are we know moving on to a Torah she-ba'al Google (or do mnemonics still have value)? Click here...
Thanks DC!

Sunday, July 17

BIU/Orot Tanakh Teachers Conference

Details here...

Thursday, July 14

Back to Hebrew School?

Hirhurim reports and comments on a (RATHER SHOCKING AND TROUBLING) proposal in Lawrence, NY, in which Orthodox students will attend a local yeshiva for Torah studies in the morning and then be bussed to a public school for secular studies. They will stay after school for an extra period of secular studies to make up for the missed morning. The students would be together in classes in a separate track from the rest of the public school due to their different schedule. If this passes all of the legal hurdles, it will significantly relieve the financial burden of tuition. Click here for more...
Also discussed on Lookjed, click here.
George Hanus has something to say about the high price of Jewish education...

Wednesday, July 13


Where would we be without Rashi?
Berel Wein helps us understand the man <click here>, Avigdor Bonchek helps us understand his words <click here>.

Monday, July 11

Sharansky on Herzl

Menachem Begin once said, “The captain proves himself in a storm, the maestro in his music, and the statesman in his prescience.” By this measure, Theodor Herzl was surely one of the world’s great statesmen.
Natan Sharansky on the political legacy of Herzl...

Sunday, July 10

Online Holocaust Educators Forum

Yad Vashem has launched a new forum for Holocaust educators, which will enable you to receive answers and raise questions on a variety of issues relating to the Holocaust:
How do we teach the Holocaust?
What ages are best suited to begin teaching the subject?
Questions on content.
Referrals to educational material, bibliography lists, lesson plans, ceremonies. Dialogue with colleagues: teachers, public opinion leaders, guides, pupils and more. Direct dialogue with content and Holocaust education experts from Yad Vashem.

Joining and entering the forum is free of charge. Click here...

Friday, July 8

World Congress of Jewish Studies

The program for the 14th World Congress of Jewish Studies is online.
July 31-August 4 at Mt. Scopus, Jerusalem

The PDF download of the program is 1MB (over 200 pages!). Click here...

Thursday, July 7

Tough Love in the Classroom

The man named by students as "Tel Aviv's Best Teacher" has a plan to stamp out violence and vacuousness in secular schools: maximum caring and maximum toughness. If some of his proposals sound a bit fascist, he isn't perturbed--after all, school isn't summer camp.
Ha'aretz reports... Hebrew here (with side-bar here). English here (with side-bar here).

"Secular education in Israel is bankrupt," he says. "It has no moral value system that can stand as a model for the children. That's why they get lost." Compared to what--religious education? "Certainly. There, they have ethical education. There they don't raise hollow kids. There the kids grow with the values that are imparted to them: reward and punishment, duties and privileges, country, army, giving to others, love of mankind, helping a friend, being a human being--a mensch. The good old Jewish values."

Wednesday, July 6

The Candy Man

Roald Dahl, beloved children's book author (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, e.g.) once said that "adults should get down on their knees for a week, in order to remember what it’s like to live in a world in which the people with all the power literally loom over you."

Is it a coincidence that his books regularly show up on the American Library Association’s list of titles that parents ask to be restricted from young children or removed from the shelves? Why do grownups hate him so much?

The New Yorker explores...

Tuesday, July 5

This Just In...

The more time children spend watching television the poorer they perform academically, according to three studies published on Monday. Excessive television viewing has been blamed for increasing rates of childhood obesity and for aggressive behavior, while its impact on schooling have been inconclusive--until now. (Interestingly, internet access indicated higher test scores.)
Click here...

Monday, July 4

Teacher Dress Codes

"When I dress more professionally, I think I teach better, I think I'm received better, and I think I show more respect for my profession." Ah, but what about the "Fu Man Chu" mustache?
On dress codes for teachers...

Sunday, July 3

Rashi's 900th

Commemorating Rashi's 900th yahretzeit*, the Zalman Shazar Center is holding a three-day conference with some very interesting topics/speakers on the program.
July 26-28 at the Van Leer Institute, Jerusalem
Click here to download program as PDF...

*Rashi lived from 1040-1105, or as one of my students once incredulously asked, "For only 25 minutes?!"

Friday, July 1

Blog of the Future

Could you imagine what the Jewish world would be like if the Amoraim and Tannaim were blogging the Mishnah and Gemara? What shape might rabbinic Judaism have taken if the Babylonians and Yerushalmis had been keeping blogs simultaneously with the wider Jewish community chiming in? On today’s blogs everything is open to discussion, and nothing is out of bounds. Further, like talmudic debate, these conversations are very democratic in nature; everyone is welcome to participate in the discussion and bring some degree of insight to the table.
Blogging, journalism, and the future of the Jewish press...