Friday, September 23, 2016 / 20 Elul 5776

September 23, 2016

Robotics Are the Wave of the Future

Though it may sound high-tech and futuristic, Robotics is very much in the present - making its way into classes thanks to the Miami Jewish Day School Robotics Initiative, a project funded by the Miami Yerucham partnership which leverages social, human, and financial capital to create opportunities and connections towards a future of growth and development based upon Jewish values.

This year, CAJE is bringing together experts from the Yerucham Science Center and its world-class robotics program to provide teachers in 3 Miami Jewish Day Schools - Hebrew Academy (RASG), Lehrman Community Day School, and Scheck Hillel Community School - with professional development to implement robotics in their elementary schools. This is an opportunity to build people-to-people relationships among science and technology teachers in Yerucham and Miami, and enhance the educational programs in Jewish Day Schools.

Stay tuned for more as students participate in the first-ever Miami Jewish Day School Robotics Festival at the end of the school year.

The Intention Behind the Experience

Close your eyes and think about an experience in religious school, summer camp, a trip to Israel or your synagogue that had a lasting impact on you.

Now go back in time and recall the vivid details that made this trip so special.

Chances are, you can recall the details surrounding the experience you've honed in on in your mind, and the profound feelings you had during that time. You can even remember what you learned that made the experience so memorable. And without a doubt, an engaging educator, clergy person, or youth group director orchestrated this experience and gave you an opportunity to question and explore your values and beliefs.  

This week, a group of 18 congregational educators and youth engagement professionals learned how to perfect their skills in the craft of experiential Jewish education with master teacher and expert Shuki Taylor. In the first of three sessions of the Sharsheret Professional Development Program, educators gained a new vocabulary relevant to their educational space. This helped them to articulate the nuances of intentionality that bring depth and meaning to the learning experience.   

At CAJE, we are constantly working towards reimagining the possibilities for congregational education with our partner congregations. We remain aware that new insights and thinking motivate, inspire, and impact change.

This is why the professional development offered through Sharsheret is a beautiful gift to our educators and to our community. It is a gift that keeps on giving, as the educators share their practice and reflections with their teachers, their students and their families - leaving a lasting impact you'll carry with you forever

Words of Wisdom

by Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar

How should we remember the past so that it best teaches us how to live our lives into the future? Parashat Ki Tavo gives us a very interesting answer and model for us to use.

Israelite farmers were commanded to bring the first cuttings from their produce in a basket to the Temple where the Kohein (priest) would place them in front of the altar. The farmer then had to recite a declarative paragraph casting himself as an actor in the history of the Israelite people (Devarim /Deuteronomy 26:5-10):

That first-person internalization is doubtless one of the reasons why the rabbis included much of this declaration in our Pesach Haggadah.

What we decide to remember and retell about the past informs us about who we are and what we want to be in the future-- which is what makes the Leo Martin March of the Living such an educational challenge.

Are we remembering the Shoah (Holocaust) just... to remember?!? And what parts exactly are we going to remember? ‘Never Again!’ is a common cry, but it’s too late. Genocidal acts have already happened... just to other people. Does the lesson 'Never Again!' only apply to Jews? Surveying world history, I think we have a right to be self-centered by protecting ourselves first-- but of course, we shouldn't stop there.

Exactly what should our study about the Shoah and Israel teach us? And how should they (or shouldn't they) be intertwined in our Jewish storytelling narrative?  That’s what our team at CAJE is deeply engaged in exploring this year, so that the March curriculum reflects clearly thought-out messages, the best educational methodology for teens and metrics that are built in to evaluate if we accomplished what we intended.

Recently I had a fascinating conversation with Ido Frommer, who runs the Science Center in Yerucham (Miami’s partnership city) and is here for the Robotics Initiative described above. Ido is an officer in the Air Force and former F-4 fighter pilot, so his Zionist credentials are unimpeachable. He is also the child of survivors-one of the Nazis and the other of Stalin.

At dinner, I asked him what he believes the Shoah teaches us. His answer was eye-opening! There are 2 main lessons of the Shoah for him, and each of them relates to how he perceives Israel. One lesson comes from the narrative of the victims and one from the narrative of the murderers.

The indiscriminate killing of Jews and the inability of world Jewry to do anything much to stop it (the narrative of the victims) teaches us that we need a Jewish state- a sovereign country with a strong military where Jewish lives are a top priority and Jews can come home to it whenever they have need or desire.

The unimaginable cruelty and evil perpetrated by the Nazis against Jews and so many others (let’s not forget them) teaches us that Israel needs to be a moral state-a country that serves as ‘Or La’Goyim’ (to paraphrase the prophet Isaiah 49:6), a City on the Hill, a beacon of morality in an immoral world that applies Jewish values to the complexities of statecraft.

And then he noted: “The right-wing in Israel only seem to remember the narrative of the victims and the left-wing only seem to recall the lessons we learned from the murderers; but the best course of action is for the State of Israel to work on achieving the delicate dialectical balance between both of these essential teachings.

What lessons do you want to recall from the Shoah? How do they inform your idea of what the State of Israel should be? And in general, how do you want to remember the Jewish past so that it best teaches you and your family how to live your lives into the Jewish future?



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