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Rabbi Shai Gluskin

Rabbi Shai Gluskin


How Should We Respond To Human Need? Psalm 41:2: Happy are those who give to the needy. The Hebrew verb for the word give, maskil, has multiple meanings. This ambiguity of meaning provides an opportunity for one of the rabbinic sages, Rabbi Jonah to think differently about taking care of the needy. Three differing...
Reconstructionist Educators' FAQs on Israel These sample questions address Reconstructionist attitudes toward Israel and provide guidance for how to address Palestinian-Israeli relations.
Stop, Get Set, Go! Man and Dog Witness Children Running! This photo and short essay address the energy of children and how important it is for adults to bear witness to it.
The Spirituality of Setting Limits: Reflections on Parenting and Discipline Rabbi Shai Gluskin offers a personal reflection on setting limits as a parent and the personal growth he experienced as a result of deeply engaging with that aspect of parenting. The author looks towards some of the language of Jewish mysticism to help explain the balance of unconditional and...
Sample Religious School Mission Statements These mission statements describe the goals of four Reconstructionist religious schools.
Midrash on Noah and Og

This mini-lesson presents a midrash about Noah and asks whether he was compassionate or selfish.

The Binding Of Isaac: What Is the Nature Of the Test? (Parashat Vayera) This study guide poses questions about Abraham's test in parashat vayera.
Rashi's Method: A Model For Students

This article explores Rashi's approach to text and cites it as a model for students. He gives permission to pose different questions and answers without declaring any one to be correct.

Rashi On Sarah's Death (Parashat Hayei Sara) This study guide uses Rashi's commentary on parashat Hayei Sara to explore Sarah's death and the binding of Isaac.
Jacob's Deception Comes Back to Haunt Him (Parashat Vayetzei) This lesson compares Jacob's deception of Isaac with Laban's deception of Jacob; it draws on Genesis Rabbah.
Parsing the Meeting of Jacob and Esau (Parashat Vayishlah) This study guide for parashat Vayishlah uses Rashi's commentary to explore Jacob's departure from Laban's house and his subsequent meeting with Esau.
Studying Jacob, Esau, Rebekah and Isaac: Questioning The "Rightness" of Jacob and Rebekah's Actions (Parashat Toldot) This study guide uses Torah text and Rashi commentary to examine Rebekah and Jacob's deceitful actions.
Joseph: Provocative Dreamer (Parashat Vayeshev) This study guide uses Rashi's commentary to explore Joseph's dream about his family bowing to him.
Joseph Gets An Audience Before Pharaoh (Parashat Miketz) This study guide covers Joseph's interpretation of Pharaoh's dreams and commentary from Genesis Rabba. It asks students to compare the story to Jeopardy!, the Book of Esther and their own lives.
Introduction to Midrash (5th Grade and Up) This lesson about the Garden of Eden encourages students to generate their own midrash. It models an approach that can be applied to other Torah texts.
Yonatan Gefen's "How Is A Song Born?" Learn what Israeli singer/songwriter Yonatan Gefen has to say about what it is like to write a song. In a wonderful meditation on creativity, Gefen attempts to describe what songwriting feels like. Artists, no matter what age, will relate. Hebrew lyrics, translation, and questions for discussion...
A Version of Israel's Secular Shabbat -- Via a Song

A Shabbat song that is secular? By studying Tirtzah Atar's "Shabbat Baboker" students of all ages learn about the experience of Shabbat by non-Orthodox Israelis with the help of a popular Israeli children's song.

Jewish Planes: A Photo Lesson About Israel This lesson urges students to think critically about El Al, the national Jewish airline that prominently displays the Star of David.
Communal Mishlo'ach Manot

Minyan Dorshei Derekh in Philadelphia has taken an innovative approach to this Purim tradition by making communal mishlo'ach manot packages for each megillah reading attendee. Community members donate time, money and items to create the gift baskets and most of the money goes...

Teaching the Book of Esther—Is It a Satire? This study guide encourages students to think critically about the the Book of Esther and relate it to a Chelm story. It is intended for students in fourth grade and up.

Rabbis Shai Gluskin and Linda Potemken explore the history and meaning of the Jewish spring festival, the counting of the Omer, and the time of "receiving of the Torah." This is an episode of the radio program Heart, Mind and Spirit.

Flag and Graffiti: a Photo Lesson About Israel This lesson asks students to study a photo taken in Jerusalem and to pose and discuss questions about living in a Jewish state.
Tikkun Olam Links For Educators An annotated list of websites that are useful to educators teaching about and engaging in Tikkun Olam.
Hebrew in The Curriculum In 2001, two discussions about the role of Hebrew in Reconstructionist religious schools took place on EdTalk, the listserve for Reconstructionist educators. Educators pondered whether Hebrew knowledge was necessary for cultural literacy, liturgical applications or just to get through the bar/...
The Torah of E-mail This article uses a brief and simple e-mail exchange as a text study. Its purpose is to point out how certain e-mail practices can achieve much in humanizing the time we spend communicating with others via electronic methods.
The Role of Obligation in Judaism This is a transcript from edtalk, the listserv of Reconstructionist educators. In 2001, education intern Sarah Rubin asked for ideas about how to teach about the role of obligation in Judaism—particularly in the context of bar/bat mitzvah. What obligations do we have as individuals? What...
Synagogue Membership As a Requirement For Religious School Enrollment In 2001, there was discussion on the EdTalk listserv about whether families of religious school students should be required to be congregational members. This is a transcript of that conversation.
Tu B'Shevat Resources

This annotated list includes many web links and one book about Tu B'Shevat for children and adults. It offers background information, history, stories, activities, seder readings and more.

The Four Children Count the Omer This program, designed for middle school through adult learners, explores four different perspectives on counting the Omer. It is based on the four children of the Passover seder and includes discussion questions at the end.
Excerpts from Maimonides' Hilchot Melachim These two texts by the Rambam describe the conditions under which war is permitted.
What is Purim? Answers to Frequently Asked Questions Questions and answers about Purim, from "What is Purim?" to "Why do some people get drunk on Purim? Isn't that inappropriate?" and more!
Reading List for Educators This suggested reading list includes books about holidays and God.
God and People Mutually Accountable On these holy days we attempt to hold ourselves accountable. And yet the tradition also acknowledges that the world is harsh. We need compassion and care to feel safe in this dangerous place. The liturgy ...
Goat's Journey Helps Us to See Ourselves In the Torah reading on Yom Kippur morning we read from Leviticus 16. Part of that reading recounts the ritual of sending our sins away to the desert on the back of a goat. It's ...
Capacity to Receive is A Limited Resource The Torah reports Moshe's assembling the people to call for contributions toward the building of the mishkan, an earthly "dwelling" for God. The people respond with overwhelming generosity. "The men came ...
Collection of Brief Comments/Art from a TorahQuest Encounter In May of 2003, during the week of Emor, the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation Board of Directors participated in a TorahQuest exercise that I facilitated. From that exercise roughly twenty short comments and quickly-made artistic responses were ...
Sarah's Death in the Wake of the Binding Torah: Sarah died in Kiryat Arba... Abraham came to bewail Sarah, and to weep for her. (Genesis 23:2). Rashi's Commentary: The narrative of the death of Sarah follows immediately on that of the binding of ...
Questioning Jacob's and Rebeka's Behavior In the Torah, Rebekah and Jacob use deception to get Jacob the birthright. It is natural and healthy to question the behavior of Jacob and Rebekah. Our ancestors don't have to be perfect to ...
Adjusting to New Narratives This dvar-Torah looks at the idea of the role of changing narrative in human experience. "There arose a Pharoah who knew not Joseph" is compared to the demise of the kibbutz movement as we know it and how we make meaning of this change. It's looked at through the personal experience and a recent...
Online Interactive Study Guide for Parashat Yitro This online lesson guides the user through chapter 18 of Exodus and asks him/her to share opinions and ideas.
The Tension Between Law and Redemption on Passover Rabbi Gluskin argues that the tension between law and rebellion, between status quo and the desire to bring redemption now, is played out richly and artfully in the liturgy of the Passover Seder. Specific references to the text are explained in this light.
A Contemporary Translation of Pirke Avot, Chapter One This is a contemporary translation of the first chapter of Pirke Avot.
Reconstructionist Education's FAQs

This list provides answers to the most frequently asked questions about Reconstructionist Judaism.

Introduction to Reconstructionist Education's FAQs

This introduction to Reconstructionist Education's frequently asked questions explains why a "cheat sheet" is necessary and provides guidance about how to discuss these and other questions with students of different ages.

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