Tuesday, December 27

Pass the Mustard

The new issue of Deot runs a somewhat critical, but also insightful, look at Hardaliyut -- Haredim Leumi'im -- asking if they're a type of keliyim.
Click here...

Monday, December 26

Lost Generation

If you were to ask an average Jew, say, fifty or a hundred years ago, what made Jews different from others, you would almost certainly get an answer that had something to do with education. Trough out history, the conventional wisdom has always gone, Jews have placed a greater emphasis on literacy and intellectual mastery than any other people.

And today?

Educational excellence--this is a central pillar upon which a Jewish state should stand, and the most important way Zionism has fallen short, claim the editors of Azure. The transformation of Israel’s schools into among the finest on earth, from the elementary level to the universities, is the greatest challenge facing the Zionist enterprise in the next generation. Click here...

Friday, December 23

The Orthodoxy Test

OK, this is just plain silly--but a little bit fun too.
Question #6: Yeshiva University is

a makom tumah.
frum, but just barely. "Not for us."
acceptable, although a little leftish.
a good example of a centrist "normal" Orthodoxy.
way too right wing.

Take the complete test, and find out where you stand on the spectrum. Click here...

Wednesday, December 21

Un-Constitutional Design

This just in...
Teaching Intelligent Design in place of evolution is unconstitutional--click here.
Review the issues in the NYT. Click here.
Don't forget Joel Wolowelsky's thoughful essay on teaching evolution in yeshivah high schools.

Tuesday, December 20

Not Like a Wall

In one of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner's myriad books, he collects the different views that defend the Religious Zionist principle of aliyah, moving to the Land of Israel. Now the book is available in English as a free web download from Yashar Books' Open Access Program.
Click here...

Monday, December 19


Today's New York Times runs a truly shocking expose of online child pornography.
Disturbing as it is, parents and educators must read it.
Click here...

Sunday, December 18

Gender and Co-Ed Ed.

Researchers found that at co-ed schools, you don't need to ask a dozen questions to predict the girl's self-esteem. You have to ask only one question: "Do you think you're pretty?" Here's the paradox: co-ed schools tend to reinforce gender stereotypes.
There is now very strong evidence that girls are more likely to take courses such as computer science and physics in girls-only schools, while boys in single-sex schools are more than twice as likely to study art, music, foreign languages, and literature as boys of equal ability attending comparable co-ed schools.
Read a review...

Thursday, December 15

Those Gadgets

More parents are buying electronics for their young children, but there is little evidence that the devices are educational.
Click here for more.

Under Review

On hareidi novels, the halakhot of the Internet, and trying to break the cookie-cutter model of Torah education.
A number of interesting reviews lead this week's Haaretz book supplement
Click here...

Wednesday, December 14

Herzog Online

Michlelet Yaakov Herzog (at the Gush) has a new audio library of shiurim and classes ready for download.
Click here...

Tuesday, December 13

Mice With Angst

Lilly, Owen, Chrysanthemum, Wemberly, et al.

Has anyone else noticed how wonderfully author-illustrator Kevin Henkes captures childhood angst?
These are great children's books.

Monday, December 12

Boker Tov?

Posted by Jeffrey Saks
Not long ago, I wrote the following to LookJed:
On the topic recently discussed on-list of the importance of having Jewish Studies in the morning and General Studies in the afternoon, various ideas have been mentioned, and still others circulate out there in the"velt". Meaning no disrespect to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, et al, who argue that having Torah study first sends the message that it's more important, or any of the other reasons--does anyone have any evidence that this message is indeed transmitted (on the average) by the scheduling? I am similarly curious about the assertion that some schools make that having Jewish and General Studies interspersed throughout the day communicates a message/position re "integration" or "Torah u-Madda" or similar slogans. Isn't it possible that students happily move from period to period, or trudge through under duress, but the order in which that occurs from beginning of the day until we let them go home transmits NO message (even if we say/think that it does)? (Put another way: Tefillat Shacharit not withstanding, are the most important things in your daily life always those you do first? I know that I do about a dozen activities/tasks in my office as part of a daily routine, in addition to the other 100 that arise ad hoc. I assure you that the order I tackle them in does not reflect the importance I necessarily place on them.) Just speculation, but I'm curious if anyone has evidence (even anecdotal).

Of course, this generated some response...

In response to my question about impact of having limmudei kodesh in AM or staggered throughout the day I got a number of off-list responses (perhaps they'll also post to the list). Most of them suggested that the main thing for a student's appreciation of how seriously the school takes any given discipline is...(you guessed it): how seriously the teacher takes it him/herself, regardless of whether it's 1st period, or "batting cleanup"at the end of the day. On the other hand, one person did write to me with the following implied critique of my "speculation"--(see my response following):
----- Original Message -----
Subject: Re: day school schedule
I was told that there is a t'shuva from R' Moshe Feinstein z"tl on this topic. If you come across it, I would love to hear what he wrote. If he had good reasons, what purpose is served by speculation?
I responded: Yes indeed, see: Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah vol. 3, #83. Rav Moshe gave a yasher koach to R. Moshe Sherer, who moved all limmudei kodesh to the AM at a school in Argentina. R. Moshe Feinstein said it was valuable because it helps kodesh learning succeed more, sends message that Torah is "ikkar" and chol is "tafel", and sends message that we only learn chol because the State makes us. Personally, I agree that ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL it's better to have kodesh first. But if you have to weigh that against other values, we may agree that it's not Torah miSinai. For example, if having an interspersed schedule allows attracting full-time teachers (for both kodesh and chol) and paying them a proper salary to only teach in our school, with the obvious benefits to staff commitment to our institution, quality teaching, staff morale, attracting better teachers, etc.--wouldn't you agree that it would be worth it (Rav Moshe's yasher koach notwithstanding)? To be clear: Rav Moshe was clearly expressing his opinion about something which had been done. It's not clear to me that he was paskening that to do the opposite (for some legitimate benefit) is assur. In all cases, my original posting, which asked for evidence or anecdotes that support one side of the argument or the other, was to see what the kids are picking up on -- not necessarily what we are (trying) to communicate. There's sometimes a big difference.

Well, now TCR publishes research suggesting that "all things being equal" kids who take a class later in the day do better. Seems not everyone is a morning perosn--and that almnoist no teenagers are. The full research findings are available only to online subscribers, but the summary is here.

Sunday, December 11

Guide to Murder

Writing a murder mystery set in the time of a future Beit HaMikdash may seem somewhat quirky, but Rabbi Gidon Rothstein has done it with a set of educational goals in mind. In this accompanying Teaching and Study Guide for his recent novel, Murderer in the Mikdash, produced for the ATID Resource website, he gives Jewish educators the tools to bring those goals to fruition.

The Teaching Guide is meant to aid in turning the novel into an opportunity for thought, study, and learning. Aiming to make it an enjoyable way to engage students of all ages, especially teens, foster a real consideration of the Jewish perspective on a range of issues.

Click here for more...

Friday, December 9

Tanakh She-Ba'al Peh

New bagrut (matriculation exam) requirements will include not only knowing Tanakh, but actually being able to read it out loud.
Click here...

Thursday, December 8

Nechama at 100

Study, Exegesis and Research:
An International Conference Commemorating the Centenary of Nechama Leibowitz's Birth
2-3 January 2006
The conference will be dedicated to clarifying principle issues connected to the study of Torah and its teaching in Israeli and Jewish communities worldwide, in relation to Nechama Leibowitz's exegetical and pedagogical enterprise.

The conference will take place on Monday and Tuesday, 2-3 January, 2006 at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, 43 Jabotinsky Street, Jerusalem
Click here for full program.

Wednesday, December 7

Authority & Autonomy Online

Yeshiva University in Israel joined ATID in sponsoring our 8th Annual Winter Conference on November 22, with keynote speaker Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, who addressed "Authority and Autonomy: Educational Challenges in a World of Personal Choice". Rabbi Schacter is YU's University Professor of Jewish History and Thought and the Senior Scholar at the Center for the Jewish Future. Respondents to the keynote were Matan's Rabbanit Malke Bina and Rabbi Yamin Goldsmith, an ATID Fellow and Assistant Principal of Yeshivat Nachshon.

300 people were there--if you were one of the few who missed it, you can now listen online and download the packet of sources Rabbi Schacter used in his talk. Click here...

Tuesday, December 6

Armored Child

This year ATID has launched a partnership with Jerusalem's Yeshivat Bnei Chayil, which serves as one of our "laboratory schools", implementing our Beit Midrash Initiative. ATID's director Rabbi Jeffrey Saks serves as the project "coach", working with the staff to custom tailor the the project for the needs of the students.

Bnei Chayil's Rosh Yeshiva, Dr. Simcha (Stuart) Chesner has just published an important book in Hebrew for educator's of students with ADD/ADHD: HaYeled Betokh HaShiryon: LeHitchaber la-Yeled ha-Sovel me-ADHD u-me-Keshiye Hitnahagut ("Touching the Child Within the Armor") published by "Ach" Press.

We are pleased to provide as a PDF web download the important annotated bibliography that Dr. Chesner provides in the book. Click here...

Monday, December 5

Stalled Reforms

JPost reports on the proposed--and stalled--reforms in Israel's school system, and how the pending elections figure in.
Click here...

Sunday, December 4

Teacher Man

The recent college graduate takes a job as a high school English teacher. On his first day, at the start of his first class, one youth hurled a sandwich at another. All he could think to say was, "Stop throwing sandwiches." A third youth replied: "Hey, teach, he awredy threw the sangwidge. No use tellin' him now don't throw the sangwidge. They's the sangwidge there on the floor."
Teach describes: "The sandwich, in wax paper, lay halfway out of the bag and the aroma told me there was more to this than baloney. I picked it up and slid it from its wrapping. It was not any ordinary sandwich where meat is slapped between slices of tasteless white American bread. This bread was dark and thick, baked by an Italian mother in Brooklyn, bread firm enough to hold slices of a rich baloney, layered with slices of tomato, onions and peppers, drizzled with olive oil and charged with a tongue-dazzling relish.... I ate the sandwich."
On Teacher Man...

Friday, December 2

Rashba Review

Who would have guessed that the Rashba would be a featured author in the Haaretz book review?
Click here...

Thursday, December 1

Fighting Anorexia

The age of their youngest patients has slipped to 9 years old, and doctors have begun to research the roots of this disease. Anorexia is probably hard-wired, the new thinking goes, and the best treatment is a family affair.
Click here for Newsweek cover-story and click here for ATID's work.