Thursday, August 31

The Shortest Distance?

If the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, which way should we face for tefillah?
Click here (particularly relevant/useful to those teaching Tefillat HaShachar).

Wednesday, August 30

Havruta Shakespeare

Studying Shakespeare by havruta?
See here, but also here.

Tuesday, August 29

The Why Chromosome

For all the differences between the sexes, here's one that might stir up debate in the teacher's lounge: Boys learn more from men and girls learn more from women.

Article here, full study here.

Monday, August 28

Zero Tolerance?

Schools, historically, have been home to discretionary justice. You let the principal or the teacher decide what to do about cheating because you know that every case of cheating is different--and, more to the point, that every cheater is different. Jimmy is incorrigible, and needs the shock of expulsion. But Bobby just needs a talking to, because he’s a decent kid, and Mary and Jane cheated because the teacher foolishly stepped out of the classroom in the middle of the test, and the temptation was simply too much.

What about the student that gives the teacher a poisoned apple? Here.

Sunday, August 27

Measure for Measure

Can symphony conducting be a metaphor for thinking about styles of school leadership?
Click here.

Friday, August 25


Today, Rosh Hodesh Elul, we began reciting LeDavid Hashem Ori (Tehillim 27) which we will say twice a day until Hoshanah Rabbah. It's important that we understand, and teach, what it means. Our friend Rabbi Mark Smilowitz points out the importance of getting the translations right (and the value of Da'at Mikra in helping with that)...
Consider, for example, the twelfth verse of chapter 27 of Tehillim, the Psalm that we recite during the month of Elul. The Psalmist prays for deliverance from eidei sheker veyfayah hamas. A common translation: "False witnesses and those who breathe violence" [Artscroll Siddur] is awkward and obscure. Furthermore, this translation assumes the root of veyfayah is n.p.h., which is unlikely because the dropped nun would have been replaced by a daggesh in the yod. More likely is that the root is y.p.h, which appears nowhere else in Tanakh. Amos Hakham, who wrote the Da'at Mikra commentray on Tehillim, points out that this latter root is common in Ugaritic documents where it refers to witnesses or accusers. Thus he translates the verse as "false witnesses and malicious accusers," maintaining the poetic style and coherence. This is a particularly important example because we recite this Psalm as part of our liturgy, and it is important that our students (and we ourselves) understand what we are saying.

From: Ten Da'at XIII (December 2001), pp. 42-43.

Friday, August 18


Sorry for the lack of activity.

We will return to regularly scheduled blogging during the last week of August.

Thursday, August 10

A woman who was having trouble finding info for information for her children gets frustrated--but does something about it.
She sets up a very interesting wevbiste with info links and a thoughful blog.
Click here (and submit your link).

Sunday, August 6


Part soap opera, part social treatise, The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids explores how the college chase dominates the lives of high school students.
Book review here.

Thursday, August 3


The new Torah U-Madda Journal is now online here.
See especially ATID's Yoel Finkelman on hareidi lit.

Kamtza & Bar-Kamtza

The Artscroll Talmud (free PDF download) on the famous passage from Gittin 55-56, one of the few things we can study today.
A meaningful fast to all.

Wednesday, August 2

Spiritual Response

ATID alum, Rabbi Ian Pear, on the appropriate spiritual response to terror:

The day after the horrific bombing that claimed six Jewish lives at Cafe Hillel on Emek Refaim Street in Jerusalem in 2003, Rabbi Ian Pear of Congregation Shir Hadash sent an e-mail to members urging especially spirited prayer that Friday night: "In attacking our neighborhood, I am convinced that the terrorists were not simply trying to score a military victory. They were, I believe, also attempting to wage a spiritual war against all Jews living in Israel," he wrote. "This was not simply a physical attack but also an assault on our spirit; a spiritual response is also required... and that is entirely within our abilities. The terrorists wanted to turn our community into a Jewish cemetery. We must proclaim with all our strength -- and through our tefillah that it is a joyful, soulful place where the exultation of being a part of rebuilding the Jewish nation permeates our very essence. When we do so, we will have frustrated the terrorists' goals."
Our prayer that night in the shul building just a few hundred yards away from Cafe Hillel soared to the heavens, as we found comfort and strength in joining together. The next morning after services, Rabbi Pear led us to the Cafe Hillel site, where we learned a piece of Torah together in memory of the victims, in an effort "to turn the unholy into the holy."


Tuesday, August 1

Jastrow II

For a follow up to this post click here.