Annual Summer Institute for Jewish educators August 15 and 16

by | Aug 31, 2012 | Uncategorized

Brenda Kozak and Robin Sharon Wasserberg, director of Congregational Learning, Temple Beth El

Brenda Kozak and Robin Sharon Wasserberg, director of Congregational Learning, Temple Beth El

Area Jewish educators met for two consecutive nights at the Simon Family JCC last month to share teaching techniques, methods, and ideas with colleagues under the direction of guest presenters.

The Summer Institute, which began more than 20 years ago, is sponsored by United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and presented by the Simon Family JCC.

On August 15 and 16, two speakers presented workshops on different aspects of how the Torah can teach meaningful lessons. “This year the presenters were ‘local talent,’” says Miriam Brunn Ruberg, director of Jewish Life and Learning at the JCC.

“I look forward to coming to this conference each year and seeing Jewish educators in the community—sharing any of their insights and resources that they might use in the classroom,” says Marnie Waldman, a fourth grade Religious School teacher and third grade Hebrew School teacher at Ohef Sholom Temple. “I haven’t missed a single conference in five years.”

Alex Pomerantz, interim director of the Simon Family JCC, introduced the first evening, thanking educators for coming and wished them much success in their upcoming school year. Annabel Sacks, chairperson for the Jewish Education Council for the UJFT, welcomed the group, who represent a multitude of educators from various Religious Schools, day schools, and Hebrew Schools. She then introduced the speaker, Rabbi Mordechai Wecker, the new head of school of Hebrew Academy of Tidewater and Strelitz Early Childhood Center.

Rabbi Wecker’s topic was Moses Our Teacher: Master Teacher, The Critical Role of Affective Education. He divided the session into two parts: the contextual study of the Torah, discussing a particular Torah portion about Moses as a leader; and the Affective (not effective) teaching—that having to do with values, motivation and attitudes that educators impart to their students.

On the second night of the Institute, Brunn Ruberg introduced Rabbi Gilah Dror of Rodef Sholom Temple in Hampton. Rabbi Dror’s topic was Why Can’t We All Just Agree? How not to stifle creativity in a world of diverse perspectives. Rabbi Dror’s message was that the world is full of varied and complex issues, and that teachers don’t have all the answers. Noting that there are often many different interpretations of the same issues and many challenges for educators, she had groups work on several commentaries on a particular Torah text.

Sheila Panitz, a veteran teacher at the Hebrew Academy says, “I feel so fortunate to teach in a community which offers high quality workshops such as those I attended this summer. Learning Torah texts with two rabbis in our community, in the company of colleagues from our many synagogues and schools, is intellectually and spiritually invigorating.”

The Simon Family JCC is a constituent agency of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.

by Leslie Shroyer