HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal

Jewish Inspiration

Jewish Inspiration

Day schools aim to transmit a passion for Judaism to their students. Parents send their children to day school because they want them to cultivate a love of Judaism in all its dimensions. The articles in this issue explore the vital but elusive notion of Jewish inspiration from various angles. How do we define it, measure it, and recognize when we've achieved it? What does a school need to do to become a place that inspires students, faculty and all who work there? In what ways can schools undertake a process of change to improve in their work of inspiring students? And what do students and alumni tell us inspired them? Come to read, learn and be inspired for your work in Jewish education. 

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Inspiring Day School Alumni

by Dr. Harry Bloom Mar 15, 2017 Measuring Success
RELATED TOPICS: CommunityStudents

As Jewish day schools work mightily to generate the funds to improve the quality of their programs, maximize mission-compatible enrollment, and strengthen volunteer leadership, they need to tap into every potential resource. I would assert that no available resource base offers more potential than that of inspired day school alumni. There are literally hundreds of thousands of day school alumni whose active support could make a huge difference to our schools if properly harnessed. Measuring Success has conducted extensive research to understand the factors that inspire alumni engagement.

How Judaism Inspires Us

by Erica Cabag and Alexandra Somers Lahr Mar 15, 2017 Gann Academy, Waltham, MA

We are a math teacher and a development professional, both identified Catholics, who have found our ways to a Jewish high school, Gann Academy in Waltham, Massachusetts. As members of this professional community, we have opportunities to learn about Judaism, to see the ways that being in a Jewish school can enrich our lives as people and professionals, and even to explore our own faiths. This summer, we even travelled to Israel with 23 of our colleagues to experience elements of the new Israel program that is currently being introduced at our school.

Using Innovative Educational Methodologies to Improve Jewish and Israel Studies

by Jonathan Cannon and Alanna Kotler Mar 15, 2017

In the work that we do for the AVI CHAI-sponsored Jewish Day School Collaborative and for Educannon Consulting, we have had the opportunity and privilege of visiting or connecting with well over 100 Jewish day schools across North America. The schools range across the denominational, geographic, size and economic spectrum. One question that we always ask the head of school when beginning a visit is, “What are the four or five biggest challenges that your school is facing?”

The Arab/Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Source of Inspiration?

by Dr. Galia Avidar Mar 15, 2017

In the past, Israel provided a kind of simple, unmitigated inspiration; now, that kind of simple presentation of Israel often leads students to rebel and question their connection to Israel when they discover a more complicated and fraught picture of the country. Israel can still be inspiring, but schools need to engage students in the history and arguments of the conflict to inspire them.

Bringing Talmud Study to Life: Inspiration, Authenticity and Torah Lishmah

by Rabbi Yehuda Chanales Mar 13, 2017
RELATED TOPICS: Jewish StudiesPedagogy

At the Fuchs Mizrachi School in Cleveland, our annual high school retreat is one of the highlights of the school year. In addition to the community building that comes through bonding and fun activities, spending an extended weekend together as a school community provides many opportunities for experiential learning and moments of inspiration. This year, the theme for the weekend was deveikut, literally “cleaving to God,” exploring different ways we find religious meaning and connection.

The Keva and Kavannah of Inspiration: Intergrade Partnerships

by Barbara Gereboff and Larry Kligman Mar 13, 2017

A quick search of Jewish day school websites around the country shows that about one-quarter of the schools use the word “inspire” as a descriptor either on their main page or in the their mission statement. Most of us in the business do see our purpose as that of inspiring our students, our staff and our families. What exactly does “inspire” mean in a school setting? Is there a way to make inspiration happen? Why should we make sure that we are peppering our open house speeches and our websites with the verb “inspire”?


Teaching with Love and Faith

by Meredith Diskin Mar 13, 2017 The Shlenker School, Houston
RELATED TOPICS: StudentsTeachers

A good teacher can teach you something that you will remember for a day; a great teacher will teach you something that you will remember for the rest of your life. Several of the defining teachers in my life came to me at a time when I needed them the most during my days as a student at the Shlenker School.


A Memorable Middle School Mentor

by Shimshon Dicker Mar 13, 2017 Politz Day School, Cherry Hill, New Jersey
RELATED TOPICS: StudentsTeachers

Politz Day School was for me a unique and exceptional school in providing its students with a close-knit, intimate environment of excellence in Judaic and general studies. What made it especially outstanding was its eclectic array of teachers. During my 12-year Politz experience, I was fortunate to learn from mentors of numerous faiths and backgrounds, each of whom had an idiosyncratic story to tell in the classroom. As a middle school student, I was surprised at how individuals from such dissimilar worlds could inspire and impact so profoundly.


A Giving Teacher

by Jodie Applebaum Mar 13, 2017 Denver Jewish Day School
RELATED TOPICS: StudentsTeachers

When you think about your fondest memories from school, it is easy to think about a time your friend made your day, or that test you aced after a whole night of studying. What is often more challenging is to think about what and who made those culminating experiences possible. Each and every day, there are people who came to school to help students learn, to help them become better people, and to help them discover their true passions in life. If you are fortunate enough, hopefully one of those teachers will take the time to get to know you as a person.

The Spark That Lit My Future

by Sophie Ostrow Mar 13, 2017 Bornblum Jewish Community School, Memphis
RELATED TOPICS: StudentsTeachers

Eight years ago, an amazing teacher named Michal Almalem lit a flame deep inside me that that is still burning brightly in my life today. She was my teacher, my bat mitzvah tutor and my friend, and now I know, my inspiration. The ways she influences me even today are too numerous to list here. Suffice it to say, she is an extraordinary teacher.