These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

[PEP Student] Pay it Forward!

Posted on October 25, 2010 by Tamara Frankel

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As part of our pedagogic training in the Pardes Educators Program (PEP), we are required to teach a 35-minute lesson to our colleagues. We can choose to imagine them as a group of potential day school students or as they are, i.e. as adult learners in Pardes.
A few weeks ago, it was my turn to teach one of these sessions. I decided that I wanted to try teaching my peers some knowledge and skills that I had acquired during my year-and-a-bit studying Talmud at Pardes and from a text-study program I had attended this summer in New York at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT).
After speaking with my teaching coach, I thought it would be worthwhile to spend the session exploring and modeling some techniques for studying Talmud, ones that have been especially helpful for me in my own learning. For me, studying Talmud is one of the most humbling experiences, but it need not be frustrating and agonizing. And so, just as my teachers at Pardes and in YCT had demonstrated strategies that would later decrease my initial feelings of detachment from and peculiarity regarding the discussions of the Talmud, I felt excited and in some sense responsible to share these ‘access tools’ with my colleagues. 
Reflecting on this session a few weeks later, I am struck by the significance of this teaching experience. This lesson seems, in some way, to sum up my (and likely PEP’s) overarching mission: PAY IT FORWARD. 
What do I mean by that? To my mind, Jewish Education is not simply about transmitting knowledge, values and/or skills to our students. Rather, in this ‘sacred work’ we are striving to transmit knowledge and tools so that members of our community can not only access the teachings of our Sages but also be in dialogue with them. Looking to the future, I hope that in some way I am able to be a conduit of our Mesora (Jewish Tradition), enabling my students to see themselves as both informed and involved ‘links in the chain’ of our heritage, grasping unto their predecessors and yet reaching out to their successors.