In 1942, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America published A Model Program for the Talmud Torah, a guide to building rich Jewish and Hebrew literacy through after school courses of study. Its editors were Joseph Kaminetsky, a leading Jewish educator of the era, and Leo Jung, a pre-eminent congregational rabbi who also served on the faculty of Yeshiva University. While Jewish day schools expanded in number and student enrollment in the decades post-World War II, many Orthodox congregations continued to sponsor after-school Talmud Torah programs, well into the 1980’s.
In recent months, a series of heartbreaking, disruptive events have rocked the greater Los Angeles area and its Jewish communities. The Woolsey Fire burned nearly 100,000 acres, caused the death of three people, destroyed many hundreds of structures – engulfing in flames three Jewish residential camps’ facilities and a school building at a Jewish day school – and caused the evacuation of thousands of families from their homes. At the same time, those of us in Southern California were mindful of and concerned about the devastating conflagration in Butte County, to the north.
by Dr. Gil Graff
by Dr. Gil Graff
Jewish tradition associates Shavuot with the experience of receiving Torah at Sinai, 50 days after liberation from slavery in Egypt. Passover marks freedom from bondage; Shavuot celebrates freedom to lead purposeful lives. As the Israelites are about to encounter Torah, the Torah describes Israel’s mission with the phrase: “kingdom of priests; holy nation.”
Millennia ago, Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) opined that “there is nothing new under the sun.” Though, occasionally, it might seem as if something is new, Kohelet maintained that the matter was recognized in times past but simply forgotten. To be sure, humankind acquires new knowledge. For example, while we know more about child development today than in former times, Koheleth might suggest that seeking and applying such knowledge is a contemporary expression of the ancient wisdom of the Book of Proverbs, "educate each child in their way."
The 15th of the Hebrew calendar month of Shevat (Tu B’Shevat), this year, corresponding to January 30/31, marks the new year in the agricultural cycle, for purposes of various Jewish legal requirements relating to produce. The date has, in more recent times, been embraced as a Jewish Arbor Day. This year, Tu B’Shevat coincided with a striking, early morning eclipse of the moon.
On November 13th, over 250 parents and early childhood education professionals gathered at Westwood's Sinai Temple for a talk given by Dr. Alicia Lieberman, one of the foremost experts in the field of early brain development.
This talk was sponsored by the Simms/Mann institute, a field leader in the application of neuroscience research to parent education. BJE, a partner in the work of disseminating this research to Parent & Me educators in Jewish early childhood education settings, was proud to promote Dr. Lieberman's talk to its network of affiliated schools.
After ten days of introspection and working toward teshuvah – turning/recommitting to becoming our best selves – we prepare for Sukkot, “time of our joy.” Despite the fragility that is inherently part of the human condition, we celebrate the bounty tht we enjoy and invite guests to join us in our temporary dwellings. The sukkah inspires reflection on the constant and the transitory in the world of which we are a part.