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Reflections, The 5 Essential Conversations – Setting the Table for Israel Learning Webinar

8/22/14

By Shelly Barnathan

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Temple Beth Sholom Roslyn’s “after webinar” lively interchanges

In planning these webinars, Cyd Weissman and I spent many hours discussing our own feelings about events in Israel. We talked about news media, articles that we had read, as well as discussions that we have had with friends and colleagues. Before we could even begin to frame the webinars for educators, we needed to engage in just the kind of conversations that we would highlight in the webinars – i.e. – conversations about what we think we know based on what we see, read and hear; how our own personal lens shapes the information that we read, see, and hear; and then how we feel about the situation and how we share this with others in a frame of holy speech and then holy listening to the viewpoint of others.

Once Cyd and I engaged in this process, then and only then could we tap into our professional role as educators and shape an educationally sound webinar that could help others. Undertaking this process on a personal level reinforced the idea that these kinds of reflections and conversations are essential before creating curriculum around Israel, particularly at this sensitive and precarious time in the life of our beloved Jewish State.

Educators in the webinar expressed their own personal questions around Israel education as well as questions that exist in their communities and congregations. Educators know that they are supported by each other and by the Jewish Education Project. Educators know that The Jewish Education Project is available for continued support and for excellent age-appropriate teaching resources on Israel.

With the Rodef Shalom text-based guidelines for respectful conversations on difficult topics presented in the webinar, the educators have a tool to take them into conversations with the leadership of their congregations, with their teachers and staff, with parents, and with children.

With the situation in Israel as it now is, we are each now called to action to be like Nachshon who stepped in the waters – we are called on to be the brave ones to begin the conversations that can hold multiplicity of opinion and point of view, and still be respectful, continually upholding our holy Jewish values of sacred listening and sacred speech.

 

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Shelly Barnathan, Rabbinical Candidate at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College & Spiritual Educator

 

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