Sunday, November 26

What Do We Know?

Several times a year, ATID will summarize recent research, trends, and ideas in Jewish education. By doing so, we hope to keep the community of educators up to date on information that they may find useful, and help to set an agenda for further research and thinking in Jewish education.

In this installment Dr. Yoel Finkelman explores: "What Do We Know About How Orthodox Students Experience Judaism?"

"Good teachers learn to trust their intuitions about students and their experiences but teachers may in fact know less about their students than they imagine..." Click here.

Wednesday, November 22


What would God say about pesticides and insecticides? About farm animals cooped up in tiny spaces? About fruits and vegetables picked by laborers who don't earn a living wage? "Kosher organic" is one of the fastest-growing segments of the kosher food market.
Newsweek reports, here.

But see also here and anything on food written by Michael Polan, author of Ominivore's Dilemma.
It's not just what we eat, but what the food does to the eartch along the way.
It's not just what we eat, but what happens to those responsible bringing it to our plates.

Tuesday, November 21

Tzitz Eliezar zt"l

Rav Eliezer Waldenberg, author of the multi-volume responsa Tzitz Eliezar, has died today at age 89.

Updates and links: here.

Tzedaka Claus

Think whatever you like about Santa -- and if you're offended by the reference, try to hold it in-- this story has a mussar haskel about how we (should) give tzedaka.

See also here and of course here.

Monday, November 20

Calling All Parents

ATID is seeking participants for a survey on the topic of "Parenting and Jewish Education". Survey will consist of a one-hour discussion and consultation on a parenting issue or challenge of your choice (in Jerusalem). Research run by parenting consultant and ATID Fellow Elisheva Gordon (in Hebrew or English). Confidentiality assured. For details or to schedule an appointment, email Elisheva at or telephone: 054-451-2724.

For details in Hebrew, click here.

Sunday, November 19

Sharp Critique

Listen to this insightful critique of education in Israel:
"Everyone's a manager. The language that school principals learn to lead with today is cut-and-pasted from the business world to education... [and that] confuses everything.
...School turns into a supermarket."
See this article (about half-way down, in Hebrew). Reminds us of of this.

Wednesday, November 15

Sefarim Reviews

Haaretz Book Review covers four interesting new titles today:
* As you may know, Prof. Ravitzky has been hospitalized since being severly injured in a traffic accident last month -- Refuah Shleimah.

Friday, November 10

MB 100th

Today, 19 Heshvan 5767, is the 100th anniversary of the Chofetz Chaim's completion of the Mishneh Berurah -- arguably the most important Torah work of the past century.

See the bottom line of the last page of vol. 6: "Siyamti ba-hesed Hashem Yitbarakh be-yom 19 la-hodesh Marheshvan 5667" (Completed with God's grace on the 19th of Marheshvan 5667 = November 7, 1906).

Click here for the Chofetz Chaim's New York Times obituary, and here for his autograph.

Thursday, November 9

Duh! Dept.

This just in from the Duh! Department:
"Findings show that many novice teachers report that their work is solitary, that they are expected to be expert and independent from the start, and that they do not believe their fellow teachers share a sense of collective responsibility for their students or each other."
TCRecord here.

Wednesday, November 8

If you will it...

"'If you will it, it will be no fairy tale.' You willed it, Jews, with your hearts and with your souls, with your minds and with your bodies, with your work, with your sweat and with your blood, with all the sorrow in your hearts-yes, and with your gladness too. And see, it is no fairy tale."

Herzl's grandson visits Eretz Yisrael.

Tuesday, November 7

Translating Halakhic Man II

Second part of this essay can now be found here.

Monday, November 6

Jewish Democracy

The Israel Democracy Institute has published a study and policy paper (available online) exploring the attitudes of Haredi and Dati Leumi rabbis to democracy and its institutions.

(Remember, Americans, vote on Tuesday.)

Sunday, November 5

Jewish Grandkids?

Will your grandchildren be Jewish? Based upon data and various population studies that are now available, it appears that an extraordinary disintegration of the American Jewish community is in process. There was a time when every Jew could take it for granted that he or she would have Jewish grandchildren with whom to share Seders, Sabbath and other Jewish moments. However, the clear data indicates that this expectation is no longer well founded. Indeed, studies show that within a short period of time the entire complexion of the American Jewish community will be altered inexorably. Unless...

Thursday, November 2

Explosive Child

We recently read Ross W. Greene's important book, The Explosive Child: Understanding and Helping Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children (also available in Hebrew).

He has a possibly controversial approach to dealing with a category he formed, the "chronically inflexible" child, prone to meltdowns and what he calls "vapor lock" (when rational thought gets blocked). His main thesis is that we should be looking for new explanations for why this child acts this way, and he puts a large burden on the parent and teacher to develop strategies that will allow the child to succeed.

For example, chronically frustrated children are often viewed as manipulative, but, Greene suggests, manipulation requires a lot of conniving forethought and planning -- a "skill" such children are usually not capable of, and the reason they often get into frustrating positions to begin with. Perhaps you know this from trying to get a kid to do his homework?! By re-focusing our understanding of the root cause, he points us in the direction of better, more effective solutions. "Children do well if they can" is the book's motto. The question is how adults can help them do well.

The book is clearly geared for parents, but chapter 12 focuses on the school. Even if the child is not having meltdowns in class (because of fear of embarrassment, medication, etc.) that doesn't mean the teacher is doing everything necessary to allievate "steam" which will blow off the moment the kid gets home. (Tip: Greene is not a big fan of homework -- see also here). Good news though: We're told by Dr. Greene that he just completed the manuscript of a companion volume on the explosive child in the school. We'll keep that on our list of books to read when it's published sometime next year.

Wednesday, November 1

New Sites

Some noteworthy new websites:
Scholars, students, teachers, librarians, poets, and other members of the
academic or literary community are invited to visit and consider
submitting work to, a new web site including articles, English translations of poems by the five major Spanish-Hebrew poets, a bibliography, etc.

Printer, Publisher, Peddler: The Business of the Jewish Book
The University of Pennsylvania Library has just made public a new web-exhibit entitled "Printer, Publisher, Peddler: The Business of the Jewish Book."
Book production is a business as well as a craft, a trade and an art form. Since the invention of moveable type in the fifteenth century, Jews as well as non-Jews have been engaged in the printing and sale of a surprisingly diverse array of editions of Judaica. This exhibition offers a small sampling of that vast panoply of creativity, based on the University of Pennsylvania’s distinguished library collections. The materials selected highlight not only the production but also the consumption side of the business of the Jewish book: who bought and sold printed Judaica.

The Jewish Book
Also from University of Pennsylvania Library: a new on-line exhibit based on the 2005-06 research theme "The Jewish Book: Material Texts and Comparative Contexts".
Among the questions the exhibit deals with: How have the materiality and formatting of texts from antiquity to the present shaped authorship, reception, interpretation, and transmission? How have the business of Jewish book production and the market forces of book consumption affected Jewish life and culture? How have the visual art and design of Jewish books shaped reading habits, legibility, recollection, and signification? How have cultures of Jewish reading changed over time, creating new forms of social experience while testing communal authority as well as gender boundaries? What has been the fate of Jewish books, libraries, book producers, publishers, and readers, under conditions of censorship and persecution?