Monday, April 30

Around the Bonfire

On turning Lag BaOmer into an educative moment -- here.

Tuesday, April 17

Meet the Substitute

When it comes to substitute teachers, there really is no substitute for Arnie Blume.
Story and video here.

Monday, April 16

Preparing for Holocaust Education

The publicity focus on Holocaust issues in the last decade may cause one to mistakenly assume that its main aspects have, by now, been well researched. Yehuda Bauer, the director emeritus of the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem explains: "To comprehend where Holocaust research is at, one must assess three very roughly defined categories of interest to the historian: the attitudes of the criminal perpetrators, the victims and the bystanders."

Sunday, April 15

Teaching the Holocaust

How should we teach about the Holocaust? Is it educationally helpful or problematic to compare our suffering with that of other peoples? What is the attitude of the Jewish tradition to the suffering of gentiles?

In a 1992 Ten Da'at essay, Rabbi Shalom Carmy responds to an educator who argued that an assignment asking students to compare the suffering of Jews in the Holocaust with that of African Americans in the slave trade is “obscene” and a “subversion of yeshiva values.” (Download essay as PDF: click here.)

Rabbi Carmy argues that there exists nothing problematic about the comparison per se, as the slave trade did cause horrendous suffering to millions. If such an assignment increased student desire to alleviate the pains of Jews and gentiles, it would be fine. However, the assignment deserves criticism precisely because it fails to achieve that goal for the following reasons:
1. Cataloguing the evils done to many peoples may lead students to the politically correct conclusion that everybody suffers, but dull their sensitivity to individual cases of inhumanity.
2. Emphasizing the suffering of others sometimes stems from a shallow universalism in which no sympathy remains for one’s own brethren.
3. Why should comparing two instances of immense suffering in a competitive manner increase student sensitivity regarding the atrocities committed (on either side of the comparison)?
4. A focus on who has suffered more may engender the cult of victimhood in which our community adopts a spiritually debilitating attitude that employs our suffering as perpetual grounds for entitlement.

In sum, Rabbi Carmy does not reject the assignment because it shows too much concern for the suffering of others. Rather, he rejects it because it reflects attitudes that inhibit our concern for the suffering of both Jews and gentiles.

Thursday, April 12

Shoah, Texas Style

A three-week lesson at a Texas school that assigned students the roles of Germans and Jews during the Holocaust may have been a little too real. The course was meant to bring home the reality of intolerance during the Holocaust, school officials said, but some students said "German" students spat on or hit the "Jewish" students...

Wednesday, April 11

Teaching w/o Training

If we haven’t been trained in pedagogy and teaching, how is it that so many faculty are good at it?

Sunday, April 1

Kook Book Sale

Lamed is going on recess until after Pesach, so in the meantime, do your book shopping...

The annual Mossad HaRav Kook book sale will take place starting on Isru Hag Pesach (April 10) and run until April 17. To mark their 70th anniversary the prices are great (as always) and for the first time they've put out a nice, 31-page color catalog instead of merely listing titles and prices.

You can phone in your order (02-651-5592) and have it shipped (even to North America), although they still do not have a website.
We've scanned the catalog which you can download here (PDF, 1.2 MB).

Hag kasher ve-sameakh!