The "Transformative" in Transformative Jewish Texts
At its core transformative is defined as "A marked change, as in appearance or character, usually for the better." So what does it mean to us in Jewish life? What texts have the potential to change our ethical character and/or our connection to Judaism? What power do we attribute to Jewish texts?
Gems about textual teaching, drawn from a project involving seven Reconstructionist congregations and RRC student rabbis, as well as JRF education and congregational leadership programs (such as PEARL) will be examined for what they both reveal and conceal about Jewish text study, and the implications for the classroom, the boardroom, programming, social justice action and so on.
Expected Preparation (Written and Audio):
2005 Omer Initiative: http://188.8.131.52/pirke-avot/index.html
Parker Palmer, To Know as Are Known (1993)
Where schools give students hundreds of pages of text and urges them to speed read, the monks dwelled on a page or a passage or a line for hours and days at a time. This method allows reading to open, not fill, our learning space.
When all students in the room have read the same brief piece in a way that allows them to enter and occupy the text, a common space is created in which students, teachers, and texts can meet. It is an open space since a good text will raise as many questions as it answers. It is a hospitable, reassuring space since everyone has walked around in it beforehand and becomes acquainted with its dimensions. Too often we fail to capitalize on the space-creating quality. We hold students individually accountable for what they read on texts, but seldom allow their reading to create a common space in which the group can meet in mutual accountability for their learning.
(The Five Books of Moses. The Schocken Bible: Volume I, commentary and notes by Everett Fox Pgs.256-258, 268.)
Now Moshe was shepherding the flock of Yitro his father-in-law,
priest of Midyan.?
He led the flock behind the wilderness-?
and he came to the mountain of God, to Horev.?
And YHWH’s messenger was seen by him?
in the flame of a fire out of the midst of a bush.?
here, the bush is burning with fire,?
and the bush is not consumed!?
Now let me turn aside
that I may see this great sight-?
why the bush does not burn up!?
When YHWH saw that he had turned aside to see,
God called to him out of the midst of the bush,
Here I am.
Do not come near here,
put off your sandal from your foot,?
for the place on which you stand-it is holy ground!?
and he said:?
I am the God of your father,
the God of Avraham,?
the God of Yitzchok,?
and the God of Yaakov.?
Moshe concealed his face,
for he was afraid to gaze upon God.?(Exodus 3:1-6)
Dr. Jeffrey Schein is currently a Professor and Director of the Department of Jewish Education at the Laura and Alvin Siegal College of Judaic Studies. He has served as the Senior Consultant for Jewish Education for the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation and for the Mandel Center for Jewish Education of the JCC’s of North America Lekhu Lakhem project.
Dr. Schein is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and of the doctoral program in curriculum studies of Temple University in Philadelphia. He is the author of Creative Jewish Education (Rossel Books), Targilon: A Guide for Charting the Course of Jewish Education (JESNA and JRF), and Windows on the Jewish Soul, Connecting Prayer and Spirituality, The Reconstructionist Curriculum Resource Guide, and Lifelong Jewish Learning , and Growing Together: Resources and Programs for Jewish Family Education. He has coauthored with Rabbi Sandy Sasso Kol Ha-Noar: The Voice of Children., a prayerbook for young children and their families. He is the first non-pulpit Rabbi to receive the Ira Eisenstein award from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association for distinguished service. He is the founding Rabbi of congregation Kol HaLev, the Reconstructionist congregation of Cleveland.
Rabbi Erin Hirsh is JRF Director of Education. A 2000 graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, she spent ten years working as an Education Director in the Reconstructionist movement at congregations Kehilat HaNahar and Mishkan Shalom. She also served as a consultant to Reconstructionist congregations during that time. Rabbi Erin has taught in a variety of supplementary school settings, including Reform and Reconstructionist congregations. She is the author of Etz Hayim We, a series of text study curricula based on the megillot. Rabbi Erin has also helped write the curricula for Camp JRF for the past five years. She and her partner, Ezra Sherman, are blessed with a daughter, Zoe.
Rabbi Shawn Israel Zevit, www.rabbizevit.com is a congregational consultant and Director of Outreach and Tikkun Olam for the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation. He is the Co-Director of the award-winning Davennen Leaders Training Institute and is a spiritual director for many clergy. A recording artist he has also written and developed resources in the areas of Community Building, Leadership, Prayer, Contemporary views of GOD, Jewish Men's issues ("Brother Keepers: New Essays in Jewish Masculinity), and Money and Jewish values ("Offerings of the Heart: Values-Based Approaches to Money in Faith Community". Rabbi Zevit moved to Cleveland in 2009 to be with his wife Simcha and family, continuing his work for JRF from there.