experiments, instruments & measurement book


Posted by Catherine Schwartz in Innovation, Relational Judaism, Resource, Susie Tessel

by Susie Tessel, June 18, 2015


Did you really go to that concert if you didn’t take a selfie?

If something isn’t documented by a digital photo did it happen?


Dr. Jeffrey Schein, a beloved Cleveland educator and the retiring Cleveland Shinnui representative, has been exploring the issue of technology and its impact upon us for years.  He has created a myriad of engaging, thought provoking, interactive curricular materials called “Text me!”.  He won a Covenant Grant for his materials – endorsing the quality of construction and efficacy of these provocative materials.  He is now- most generously sharing these many, many strategies and techniques.  They are suitable for all ages, in a variety of forums, with or without parents.

How do we achieve a balance of technology to enhance our lives? How do we identify and acknowledge the benefits and detriments that technology offers us?  How do we converse about the use of technology to our greatest advantage?

Last week, staff members at The Jewish Education Project and Rabbi Schein explored some of his materials in “Text me!” that he has successfully used in a variety of settings for all ages. These interactive materials generate valuable discussion through a variety of engaging vehicles to help us examine our positions on technology. His goal, as is ours, is to assist educators to think about these issue.  Without being dogmatic, Rabbi Schein offers a myriad of engaging techniques to explore our relationships with technology and the unintended consequences on our lives. For example, he culled the internet for a variety of “Awkward pictures posts”.  In pairs, we then had to consider which of these “awkward” photos we would want circulating around the internet about us for time immemorial!!? The conversations were rich, and thought provoking.  I can imagine students of all ages considering, perhaps for the first time, the story their internet pictorial history tells, and what certain pictures say or reflect about them.  In another exercise, they are asked to ask how well they balance their desire to be connected with their desire to connect with both animate and inanimate objects and beings.   They reflect on the statements like following: In the 21st century, “I think therefore I am.” becomes “I share therefore I am.”

Rabbi Schein is a consummate professional who articulately, and passionately presented thoughtful, engaging and interactive experiences for educators to share with learners of all ages.  His mastery of the literature about technology and its effects on us is dazzling.  I was sorry when our time together was over. I was consoled by his generosity in making these materials available on our website. Click here to explore for yourself the materials Rabbi Schein created, as you share his work- albeit virtually!! Thank you Rabbi Schein!!

What voice would you give to the Chanukah story?

What voice would you give to the Chanukah story?
Posted by Ben Alpert in Rabbi Jennifer Goldsmith, Resource


By Rabbi Jennifer Goldsmith

This week many of our consultants were given the chance to read verses from Shabbat on Chanukah and create their own modern midrash, giving voice to either a person or object whose point of view we do not otherwise hear. See some of our creations below and add your own!

MenorahFrom the point of view of the Lamp: The Greeks knocked us over and broke so many things in the Great Hall of the Temple. They left me on the ground, thinking me dead and useless. When Judah Maccabee entered, I was lovingly sat upright and the small cruse of oil was placed in my oil holder. Brighter, brighter – hope it lasts.

From the point of view of the Calendar: On the 25th day of Kislev commence the days of Hanukkah. The calendar asks: Why am I mentioned first? The Torah responds, because just as the calendar was the first commandment God gave the Israelites when they left Egypt, so, too, the rabbis start with the calendar as the first command.

Where did they find the oil? For the Greeks found all the other oil. This cruse of oil was hidden among the Greek statues, for no one would think to look there. A soldier among the Greeks had seen one priest with the oil and taking it for his own had hidden it and was then reassigned. The miracle was in the hiding, in the finding and in the light.

dreidelFrom the point of view of Hallel: Halleluyah! Sing out praises to God for the miracle of Chanukah—for the Hassidim who stood up for Jewish culture and tradition in the face of assimilation. Praise God! For all the individual acts of courage of women and men who dared to be different. May their spirit of courage keep the flame of those who support diversity in our day alive. Amen! Selah.

From the point of view of the High Priest: When I looked at the devastation surrounding me in the Bet HaMikdash I wondered- how can I fail forward? How can we memorialize all the death and destruction to make this moment feel triumphant for posterity? We can light the menorah. the light will bring inspiration and help take away the darkness and bad memories. We can institute the saying of Hallel in gratitude to the Almighty and our brave fighters. Lastly, we need to record and memorialize our triumphs- like The Battle of Emmaus, in which our few men used guerilla warfare to triumph over the mighty Syrian Greek army. (That Battle is still studied at West Point as a perfect example of guerilla warfare!!)

From the point of view of the lamp:
“Hey…it is so dark in here. Oh wait…I think I am about to be lit…”
“…really? That is all you have? This isn’t going to last the night!”
“Hey you…over there…did you get any oil?”
“Wait…so it is all my problem? I have to light up this whole place? We better get use to the dark…”

Shabbat 21b
What is [the reason of] Hanukkah? For our Rabbis taught: On the twenty-fifth of Kislev [commence] the days of Hanukkah, which are eight on which a lamentation for the dead and fasting are forbidden. For when the Greeks entered the Temple, they defiled all the oils therein, and when the Hasmonean dynasty prevailed against and defeated them, they made search and found only one cruse of oil which lay with the seal of the High Priest, but which contained sufficient for one day’s lighting only; yet a miracle was wrought therein and they lit [the lamp] therewith for eight days. The following year these [days] were appointed a Festival with [the recital of] Hallel and thanksgiving.

Activity: Take a minute to read through the text. Then create, a short (2-5) sentence modern midrash from the point of view of someone or something unexpected in the text. (For example: the point of view of the oil.)

I*MOVE Applications for 2014-2015 are Here!

Posted by Jessica Rothbart in Resource, Uncategorized


We encourage you to being thinking about your next I*MOVE now. For the first time, we are offering an online submission process. We have also extended the deadlines since the webinar!

Application Deadline – April 1, 2014
Exploratory Conversations Scheduled – April 11, 2014

A Word Doc version of the applications is available for download. When you are ready to submit the application, click here to complete the online form.

Application for Individualized Consulting 2014-2015

Coalition Incubator Application 2014-2015 (NYC-Metro Only)

Coalition Start-Up Application 2014-2015 (NYC-Metro Only)

I*Express Application 2014-2015     I*Express Roadmap

Peer Consultancy Application 2014-2015

There are several ways to plan your next move:

1) Contact your congregational consultant.

2) Contact a Regional Consultant or the Congregational Learning main office:

Long Island: Suri Jacknis – 631-462-8600, sjacknis@jewishedproject.org
Long Island: Ellen Rank – 631-462-8600, erank@jewishedproject.org
New York City: Rabbi Michael Mellen – 646-472-5342, mmellen@jewishedproject.org
Westchester Region: Rabbi Jennifer Goldsmith – 914-328-8090, jgoldsmith@jewishedproject.org
Westchester Region: Susie Tessel – 914-328-8090, stessel@jewishedproject.org
Congregational Learning Main Office: Jessica Rothbart – 646-472-5347, jrothbart@jewishedproject.org

3) If you missed the Webinar or would like to share it with your colleagues, you may view it here: innovatingcongregations.org/resources

A NEW BESTSELLER IS RELEASED: The Jewish Education Project’s The Coalition Handbook, Vol. II

A NEW BESTSELLER IS RELEASED: The Jewish Education Project’s The Coalition Handbook, Vol. II
Posted by Ben Alpert in Resource


By Rabbi Jennifer Goldsmith

Who loves the first LOMED and Express Innovation handbooks? Before you all say “I do,” too quickly I really think the question could be changed to…Who doesn’t love the first LOMED and EI handbook…I mean really…they were so very useful! Well, realizing that it had been a number of years since we brought you the most up-to-date information in one cohesive document, a group of consultants from the Congregational Learning department of The Jewish Education Project came together to create The Coalition Handbook, Vol. 2. This volume highlights the work we have done together over the last two years. Below are some of my favorite take-aways…

Each of us has spent many hours making whole person learning a reality in our synagogues. But how do we know if we are making a difference? How do we know if what we are teaching is staying with our students? How do we know if the relationships we are working so hard to build become lasting? On pages 134 and 135 we offer you a wonderful resource created by our Coalition Educators to help with assessment in the area of belonging. “What would I observe if Belonging were happening? I would see…” These check lists, meant for both teacher and learner can help make belonging something that stands out in our learning models.

assessing belonging

I know that there have been instances where it is a week before a Jewish holiday and I realize that I haven’t thought an upcoming family experience through at all…What do I want my families to leave knowing, doing, believing? What do I want the experience to accomplish? How does this learning experience fit into my year-long vision? With the resource found on page 149 in the new handbook that last minute conversation can be easily avoided. Creating a year-long calendar for the learning model during the summer can help one make thoughtful decisions on content, theme and purpose so the year flows in a way that makes sense for the teachers and the learners.


NETWORKS TO STRENGTHEN our Congregational System
When we think about networks, we often think about groups of people who come together with a common purpose from outside of our organization. Rarely do we think about creating networks within our organizations. On pages 170 and 171 we share with you a powerful story from Temple Israel Center of White Plains on how the Director of Congregational Learning, Nancy Parkes, created networks within her synagogue walls bringing together people from various age groups and constituencies all for to benefit the learning model. She adds, “the amazing powerful learning created as a result of planning together for families is a result of the collaboration of our educational leaders from across our system working together with common purpose, passion and mutual commitment to vision.”

View a copy of The Coalition Handbook, Vol. 2 here:

handbook image

Not Your “Regular” Religious School

Posted by icadmin in Video
What is the impact of nurturing the whole person? This video, screened at Yachdav, tells the story…
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geriatrics books