These and Those

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

Morning Mindfulness

Posted on July 19, 2015 by Juli Goodman

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This program is inspired by a text I learned in Yaffa Epstein’s course “Without Understanding, How Can I Pray” at the Pardes Institute this summer. I was struck by how detailed the text is with regard to the specific blessing associated with each action, as though a simple act of getting ready to start the day could be elevated with mindfulness and appreciation. I became excited by the text and immediately began to think about how I could use this text. The end result is the lesson plan above.

Although I have not actually used this lesson plan yet, I’m excited to learn this text with my students at Yale when the new school year starts. I could also see this lesson being relevant for high school students, learners preparing for a bat/bar mitzvah, or really anyone seeking more mindfulness in their lives. The idea of saying blessings may be theologically challenging for some learners. However, the recognition and appreciation of each action and item involved in a process, such as getting ready in the morning, can elevate our consciousness without necessarily acknowledging God as part of that process or even acknowledging the existence of God altogether. Rather, this text can be interpreted as expressions of gratitude.

As an educator, I find this text to be incredible because it connects an ancient practice to a modern day routine and because it elevates a mundane process to a higher plane of mindfulness . Are there any texts, old or new, that excite you? How do you use them educationally?