HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal


Strengthening Community

Strengthening Community

What do we mean when we call our schools a “community”? How does the Jewish diversity that typifies community day schools coalesce into its own community? What happens when the various communities that exist both outside and within the school come into conflict? Discover ways of understanding and strengthening the community of your school and its position within the larger surrounding communities.


Mosquitoes, Elephants and Mermaids: Building a Strong Faculty Community

by Susan Cook Oct 21, 2010
RELATED TOPICS: CommunityTeachers

New school, new faculty, opening meeting. One of those first impression opportunities. “How many of you have ever been bitten by an elephant?” I ask. A quick check around the room—no one raises a hand. “How many of you have ever been bitten by a mosquito?” No checking necessary—all hands are up. How do I convey to these “been there-done that” veteran teachers that I care about their professional lives in the building? That I will try to clear away the obstacles so that they can do their best work? And that I will listen to the challenges they face to meet the needs of their students in the “hurry up and learn” environment of a Jewish day school?

Building School Community: Connection and Conflict

by Renee Rubin Ross Oct 21, 2010
RELATED TOPICS: Community

All schools dream of having a tight-knit parent community. Jewish day schools tend to be places where parents play a far greater role in decision-making than other parochial and independent schools, a situation that brings opportunities but also must be managed carefully. How might Jewish day schools incorporate input from the parents in a way that builds community?

Creating an Alternative in Israel

by Hila Zeira-Weinstein Oct 21, 2010
RELATED TOPICS: Israel

When I recently tried to enroll my daughter for gan in Jerusalem, the computer registration system replied, “Did Not Compute.” I had to enter at least two options, and my top two choices were from two separate tracks, one religious and the other secular. The system literally would not accept such an entry. In our district, as in most of Israel, when choosing a school you must identify yourself and your child as a member of either the religious community or the secular community. This has direct implications on the education your child will receive. Only recently has a third alternative emerged, one that acknowledges a more complex Jewish identity. I have the privilege of working in one of these forward-thinking communities.

Service Learning or Surface Learning? Providing Meaningful Text Study in Community Service Programs

by Jason Kimelman-Block Oct 21, 2010
RELATED TOPICS: Jewish Studies

Three years ago, I piloted a two-week program that brought Jewish teens to do intensive service projects on the Navajo reservation in the Arizona desert. This experience took participants far outside their comfort zone in a number of ways: they had to sleep in tents and cook their own meals, they were doing rigorous physical labor in the Arizona heat, and they were serving alongside Navajo teens, who not only had different economic and religious backgrounds, but communication styles that were different from those of the Jewish teens.

Strengthening Ethics to Strengthen Community

by Erica Brown Oct 21, 2010
RELATED TOPICS: Community

Few people would have the chutzpah to speak of ethical ambivalence when it comes to the Jewish tradition. We are, after all, a people Isaiah called “a light unto the nations.” Even Hebrew National told us that we answer to a Higher Authority. And yet, the recent spate of Jews involved in high-profile crimes ranging from agri-processing to money laundering and Ponzi scheming has challenged our integrity as a community. For the first time in the history of our people, a former prime minister and a former president of Israel have been indicted on criminal charges. This troubling state of affairs has made educators, among others, pause and ask if we are doing enough to teach ethics.

Limitations for Community Schools: Proving Dr. Obvious Wrong

by Jerry Isaak-Shapiro Oct 21, 2010
RELATED TOPICS: Community

After seven years (and more to the point, seven winters) in Northeast Ohio, I’ve finally stopped kvetching about frozen pipes and ice-skidding (walking, driving). Like every other city and region, Cleveland has its share of peaks and valleys and everything in between, and I’ve learned to adapt and live with—if not entirely embrace—those forces of nature that once made me long for the pretend winters of the West Coast.

Community: Family, Tribe, or Something In-between?

by Allen Selis Oct 21, 2010
RELATED TOPICS: Community

The notion of “community” is among the most important but least well grounded ideas that many Jewish day schools invoke. While we often suggest that the “community” character of a school implies inclusivity or pluralism, this notion is murky as well. Over the last few years, researchers and school leaders like Susan Shevitz and Michael Kay have helped us move towards a clearer understanding of what we mean by pluralism (see HaYidion Winter 2009). For Jewish day schools both within and beyond the RAVSAK network to be most successful, we will need a similar update to our understanding of “community.”

Shared Mind, Shared Place, Shared Kinship

by interview with Alex Pomson Oct 21, 2010
RELATED TOPICS: CommunityParents

With his Melton colleague Howard Deitcher, Alex Pomson is the editor of the recent volume Jewish Schools, Jewish Communities: A Reconsideration. We asked him to reflect upon the anthology’s formation and significance.