Posted on February 29, 2012 by W. Keller
By William Keller Last year, student teaching at Lander Grinspoon Academy, I was thrown into teaching on my first day. Although I was flustered by the flurry of activity I wasn’t ready for, I felt like I was a part of the school immediately. Here at Maimo everybody has been welcoming, but for the most Continue Reading »
Posted on February 21, 2012 by David Bogomolny
“I’m very adamant about a pluralistic model of Jewish practice.” -Stu Jacobs In 5th grade, a teacher inspired Stu Jacobs to explore and gradually start keeping more mitzvot, and throughout his youth the young man strived to connect to and practice a new mitzvah every single year. His teacher had said that ‘he didn’t have Continue Reading »
Posted on February 20, 2012 by Andrea Wiese
I am so nervous, and so excited! I am flying in two days to the US for student teaching! I am really lucky since I will be able to see my family first in Chicago before going to Philadelphia, but then it will be down to business! I am so excited to see what a Continue Reading »
Posted on January 12, 2012 by Soffer
Originally posted here. This week we begin the book of Shemot. What is fascinating about how most students learn this narrative is that before even reading the text for the first time, they have already been taught the outcome. Inevitably, the tragedy of Jewish enslavement seems less severe, because the student understands slavery is the Continue Reading »
Posted on December 13, 2010 by Barer
I’d like to focus on something I mentioned very briefly in my overview of Chanukkah which has been coming up in my mind as I consider life back home: namely, Hityavnut or Hellenization, or what would today be called assimilation.
The word gives varied messages manifested in different languages. Hityavnut is an example of a word that I find to have a different and deeper feel to it in Hebrew than its counterpart in English. “Greekify” hardly implies assimilation, and yet that is what Hityavnut would mean, on an extremely literal level. But that is not the most noteworthy part of this Hebrew word. Rather the fact that, as far as I could tell being around Israelis discussing issues of modern assimilation, Hityavnut is a word that means not only Hellenization (only meaningful in the context of discussing the Chanukkah story) but its modern meaning is also assimilation. I guess this could just be me falling for the allure of a language whose words encapsulate the history I learned growing up in Jewish day school, but which had no connection to the language I was speaking. I find it fascinating that I can understand the meaning of Hityavnut without understanding what the denotation of the word ‘assimilation’ as long as I know the Chanukkah story; English has nothing like it.
Returning to the content of this appealing Hebrew term, I have what amounts to a simple concern about living in a Jewish and a secular world simultaneously. Can one live in both worlds without being swayed ‘too much’ by either? What is ‘too much’? Can one have purely secular, non-Jewish interactions as well as purely religious, Jewish interactions and still keep all the varying world-views and lenses together in one’s head? While such questions have undoubtedly been asked endlessly by anyone who is not content to live in exclusively Jewish surroundings their entire lives, each time, and for each individual, it is slightly different based on each individual’s circumstances.
What should one’s goals be in living simultaneously in both worlds? The discussion with Israeli teenagers mentioned the Westernization of Israel in ways exemplified by the prevalence of Gap stores and other Americanized companies, and the fact that they are in English for the most part. No doubt language is more than the sum of its parts, and losing a language means so much more than losing the words, as the example of Hityavnut shows. But if recent news is any indication, we need more people that are deeply aware of more than one culture’s needs and concerns.