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A Message from the Education Director, Barbara Joseph

July 2021

Rav Kook said:

“Man cannot live with intellect alone, nor with emotion alone; intellect and emotion must forever be joined together. If he wishes to burst beyond his own level, he will lose his ability to feel, and his flaws and deficiencies will be myriad despite the strength of his intellect. And needless to say, if he sinks into unmitigated emotion, he will fall to the depths of foolishness, which leads to all weakness and sin. Only  the quality of equilibrium, which balances intellect with emotion, can deliver him completely.” [Scholem, Devarim be-Go, 326-327]

The keynote speaker at this year’s ISJL Education Conference, Nancy Parkes of JTeachNOW, used the above text to discuss the importance of social, emotional and spiritual learning. Social Emotional Learning, or SEL for short, is a process used in education, as opposed to a separate subject. Nancy focused on two SEL competencies – Self Management and Self Awareness, and gave participants some ideas of ways to integrate these in the Religious School.

Other news from the ISJL Conference included details of their recent strategic plan:

  • Education Fellows are now referred to as Program Associates, and we will learn soon who ours is! In the past this person would visit three times during the year, but this year they will not do a summer visit, and will plan for at least one visit for every community, with additional visits prioritized for smaller communities without paid clergy.
  • Programs in the ISJL Program Bank will be more accessible, and promoted more often throughout the year.
  • Training Videos will be provided for Education Partners.
  • Instead of one large in-person conference, there will be “collective enrichment,” several offerings throughout the year. The next one will be August 29 – please see the information below and let me know if you’re interested! You may recognize Dr. Wolfson’s name from his books, including Relational Judaism.
  • The Education Department and the Community Engagement Department have merged to become one service area, resulting in the integration of more social justice into the education programs.

In June I met with each teacher to reflect on the past year and plan for the next one. We are excited to use the ISJL resources as we get ready for 2021-2022.

Please mark your calendars for a kickoff event for all Religious School families on August 29. With September filled with so many holidays, there will be several holiday-themed events on the 12th, 19th and 26th. Please watch your email for details about registration and the holiday programming in September. We will wait until October to begin our regular classroom schedule and Hebrew classes.

When classes do begin in October, there may be some trial and error and we resume in person operations. Please communicate any concerns or ideas you have about this! And let me know if you would like to be connected to other families in your area to arrange carpooling.

Happy summer!

Barbara Joseph

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Sat, January 22 2022 20 Sh'vat 5782