Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Civil Year

I am in a very strange place and time right now. It is Thursday, December 31 at 7:00 p.m. I am in Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, waiting to board a plane scheduled to depart at 11:40 p.m. I will literally be in the air for the arrival of the New Year as it is welcomed from Jerusalem to somewhere in the Pacific. I am really missing the start of 2010. As my friend Leslie Coff's son would say: "Epic Fail."

The metaphors are almost overwhelming - at least as I sit alone in a airport with my cafe hafuch (gadol, chazak v'im dal shuman) - at the gateway to Eretz Yisrael. So please excus
e a little sleep-deprived maudlin musing on the eve of the new year...

I am in the air between two realities, two homes. Audrey and I have had more serious conversations about the place Israel holds in our hearts and lives than at any
time since the year we lived here. We celebrated our first wedding anniversary (that's me in front of the new Katy's - the new iteration of the restaurant where we celebrated that anniversary) in Jerusalem, during my first year of graduate school. It was an amazing time, even though Israel was in the second year of the first intifada. (Looking back, it was the mildest of conflicts in the last two decades, but it did not seem so at the time.)

The old arab-built house at the corner of Oliphant and Alcalay was were we became a family. Living on our own, far from either of our families or friends, we found a new way together. By the time we returned to the states (and headed out to the frontiers of Los Angeles) we had established our own rhythm as married people tend to do. We had gone from being you and me to being us. The smell of the jasmine bush in front of our Jerusalem home is still one of the strongest and most meaningful olfactory memories I have - right up there with Grandma Honey's latkes and Mom's London Broil (among many other choice dishes). I walked over to the old house after Shabbat last week - the hotel (Prima Royale, restored and very nice) is only three short blocks away - and picked some flowering Jasmine from the massive bush to bring home to Audrey (this is the fourth time I have brought some back).

Last spring, our oldest son spent a semester at Kibbutz Tzuba, outside Jerusalem with the Eisendrath International Exchange. It was some of the best money we ever spent. He had an amazing time, and we were just waiting for him to say "Let's go." I think we might have. He did come back committed and in love with Israel, but like us not ready pull the ripcord. He did write about it for his Confirmation last June.

Another up in the air aspect is New Year's Eve. In Israel it is referred to as Sylvester. For many years it was a non-issue in Israel, except in places where the rabbinate threatened (and followed through) to remove the Kashrut certification of any restaurant or hotel that held a Sylvester celebration. The Balashon blog explains why. In Tel Aviv tonight there are lots of events in restaurants that do not have Kosher certification. And I am told that Rabin Square is set up for several bands to perform. But it is not a big deal here. At all.

As I sit in the airport (boarding soon) with my Jim Joseph Fellowship friends, Harper and Audrey are getting ready to go to our friends' house. For the last ten years or so, we have spent New Year's eve with two other families, starting with dinner, and continuing through dinner on New Year's Day, when we celebrate Ethan's birthday. New Year's Rockin' Eve, chocolate martinis, board games, videos, lots of cooking and hanging out. It is fabulous. I am sad to miss it tonight. It is a seriously meaningful celebration for our families, although not celebrated with seiousness. It is strange not to be there.

So this rambles a bit. That happens when you are up in the air. I was excited to come to Israel eleven days ago. I was sad to leave my family. I am excited to go home and be with them in the morning. I am sad to leave Israel. Unlike every other time I have left Israel, I already know when I am coming back, as the fellowship returns to Bar Ilan next December.

My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west--
How can I find savor in food? How shall it be sweet to me?
How shall I render my vows and my bonds, while yet
Zion lieth beneath the fetter of Edom, and I in Arab chains?
A light thing would it seem to me to leave all the good things of Spain --
Seeing how precious in mine eyes to behold the dust of the desolate sanctuary.

Yehuda Halevi, writing in Spain c. 1141

Yeah, Yehuda. I get it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Leading Like Lenny (or Riccardo, Richard, Herbert or Carlos)?

I am currently sitting in a classroom in the Jim Joseph Building on the Bar Ilan University campus in Ramat Gan. The beautiful new building is the new home of the school of education and the Lookstein Institute for Jewish Education in the Diaspora and the Jim Joseph Foundation Fellows Program. I have the honor of being chosen to be one of the fellows. What follows is a summary of an amazing session we had yesterday with Itay Talgam, an orchestra conductor who taught us about leadership written by my fellow fellow, nammie Ichilov:

Today was a great first day! Besides having an afternoon of listening to some great classical music, led by some of the world's best conductors, Itay Talgam (pictured above) presented on Leadership as Vision & Values through the multiple conducting styles of the various conductors.

Itay, who also served as an Assistant Conductor to Leonard Bernstein, shared with the group the importance of leading from a place of "higher consciousness" (known as "Transcendence" in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs) which is actually beyond Maslow's original highest level of "Self-Actualization."

The whole afternoon really allowed the 11 of us (unfortunately 3 fellows were delayed because of the storm that hit the northeast on Saturday night) the opportunity to do some of our own critical thinking and self-reflection to see where we fall in the variety of leadership examples, as well as which leadership would work best in our respective Jewish educational arenas.

And if all of this was not enough, in the morning we were all invited to work on a Google Wave together to better understand how this Web 2.0 application can be used down the road...when this comes out for Beta testing this will change the way we currently communicate through instant messaging, etc. This is REAL TIME communication online?!?!

Anyway, that should be it for now, so have a great day, and stay tuned for Day 3 when we visit the Bar Kochba Caves (made of "mysterious limestone formations in the southern region of Israel. It was here that the Jews took refuge from the Romans, who persecuted them. In the year 132 C.E., the Jews planned and began their revolt against the repressive regime [from these caves].")

Thanks nammie!

A transcript of Itay's presentation is here:

Lead like the great conductors - Itay Talgam

The magical moment, the magical moment of conducting. Which is, you go on to a stage. There is an orchestra sitting. They are all, you know, warming up and doing stuff. And I go on the podium. You know, this little office of the conductor. Or rather a cubicle, an open-space cubicle, with a lot of space. And in front of all that noise, You do a very small gesture. Something like this, not very pomp, not very sophisticated, this. And suddenly, out of the chaos, order. Noise becomes music.

And this is fantastic. And it's so tempting to think that it's all about me. (Laughter) All those great people here, virtuosos, they make noise, they need me to do that. Not really. If it were that, I would just save you the talk, and teach you the gesture. So you could go out to the world and do this thing in whatever company or whatever you want, and you have perfect harmony. It doesn't work. Let's look at the first video. I hope you'll think it's a good example of harmony. And then speak a little bit about how it comes about.


Was that nice? So that was a sort of a success. Now, who should we thank for the success? I mean, obviously the orchestra musicians playing beautifully, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. They don't often even look at the conductor. Then you have the clapping audience, yeah, actually taking part in doing the music. You know Viennese audiences usually don't interfere with the music. This is the closest to an Oriental bellydancing feast that you will ever get in Vienna. (Laughter)

Unlike, for example Israel, where audiences cough all the time. You know, Arthur Rubinstein, the pianist, used to say that, "Anywhere in the world, people that have the flu, they go to the doctor. In Tel Aviv they come to my concerts." (Laughter) So that's a sort of a tradition. But Viennese audiences do not do that. Here they go out of their regular, just to be part of that, to become part of the orchestra, and that's great. You know, audiences like you, yeah, make the event.

But what about the conductor? What can you say the conductor was doing, actually? Um, he was happy. And I often show this to senior management. People get annoyed. "You come to work. How come you're so happy?" Something must be wrong there, yeah? But he's spreading happiness. And I think the happiness, the important thing is this happiness does not come from only his own story, and his joy of the music. The joy is about enabling other people's stories to be heard at the same time.

You have the story of the orchestra as a professional body. You have the story of the audience as a community. Yeah. You have the stories of the individuals in the orchestra and in the audience. And then you have other stories, unseen. People who build this wonderful concert hall. People who made those Stradivarius, Amati, all those beautiful instruments. And all those stories are being heard at the same time. This is the true experience of a live concert. That's a reason to go out of home. Yeah? And not all conductors do just that. Let's see somebody else, a great conductor, Riccardo Muti, please.


Yeah, that was very short. But you could see it's a completely different figure. Right? He's awesome. He's so commanding. Yeah? So clear. Maybe a little bit over-clear. Can we have a little demonstration? Would you be my orchestra for a second? Can you sing, please, the first note of Don Giovanni? You have to sing "Aaaaaah," and I'll stop you. Okay? Ready?

Audience: ♫ Aaaaaaah ... ♫

Itay Talgam: Come on, with me. If you do it without me I feel even more redundant than I already feel. So please, wait for the conductor. Now look at me. "Aaaaaah," and I stop you. Let's go.

Audience: ♫ ... Aaaaaaaah ... ♫ (Laughter)

Itay Talgam: So we'll have a little chat later. (Laughter) But ... There is a vacancy for a ... But -- (Laughter) -- you could see that you could stop an orchestra with a finger. Now what does Riccardo Muti do? He does something like this ... (Laughter) And then -- sort of -- (Laughter) So not only the instruction is clear, but also the sanction, what will happen if you don't do what I tell you. (Laughter) So, does it work? Yes, it works -- to a certain point.

When Muti is asked, "Why do you conduct like this?" He says, "I'm responsible." Responsible in front of him. No he doesn't really mean Him. He means Mozart, which is -- (Laughter) -- like a third seat from the center. (Laughter) So he says, "If I'm -- (Applause) If I'm responsible for Mozart, this is going to be the only story to be told. It's Mozart as I, Riccardo Muti, understand it."

And you know what happened to Muti? Three years ago he got a letter signed by all 700 employees of La Scala, musical employees, I mean the musicians, saying, "You're a great conductor. We don't want to work with you. Please resign." (Laughter) "Why? Because you don't let us develop. You're using us as instruments, not as partners. And our joy of music, etc. etc. ..." So he had to resign. Isn't that nice? (Laughter) He's a nice guy. He's a really nice guy. Well, can you do it with less control, or with a different kind of control? Let's look at the next conductor, Richard Strauss.


I'm afraid you'll get the feeling that I really picked on him because he's old. It's not true. When he was a young man, of about 30, he wrote what he called "The Ten Commandments for Conductors." The first one was: If you sweat by the end of the concert it means that you must have done something wrong. That's the first one. The fourth one you'll like better. It says: Never look at the trombones -- it only encourages them. (Laughter)

So, the whole idea is really to let it happen by itself. Do not interfere. But how does it happen? Did you see him turning pages in the score? Now, either he is senile, and doesn't remember his own music, because he wrote the music. Or he is actually transferring a very strong message to them, saying, "Come on guys. You have to play by the book. So it's not about my story. It's not about your story. It's only the execution of the written music, no interpretation." Interpretation is the real story of the performer. So, no, he doesn't want that. That's a different kind of control. Let's see another super-conductor, a German super-conductor, Herbert von Karajan, please.


What's different? Did you see the eyes? Closed. Did you see the hands? Did you see this kind of movement? Let me conduct you. Twice. Once like a Muti, and you'll -- (Claps) -- clap, just once. And then like Karajan. Let's see what happens. Okay? Like Muti. You ready? Because Muti ... (Laughter) Okay? Ready? Let's do it.

Audience: (Claps)

Itay Talgam: Hmm ... again.

Audience: (Claps)

Itay Talgam: Good. Now like a Karajan. Since you're already trained, let me concentrate, close my eyes. Come, come.

Audience: (Claps) (Laughter)

Itay Talgam: Why not together? (Laughter) Because you didn't know when to play. Now I can tell you, even the Berlin Philharmonic doesn't know when to play. (Laughter) But I'll tell you how they do it. No cynicism. This is a German orchestra, yes? They look at Karajan. And then they look at each other. (Laughter) "Do you understand what this guy wants?" And after doing that, they really look at each other, and the first players of the orchestra lead the whole ensemble in playing together.

And when Karajan is asked about it He actually says, "Yes, the worst damage I can do to my orchestra is to give them a clear instruction. Because that would prevent the ensemble, the listening to each other that is needed for an orchestra." Now that's great. What about the eyes? Why are the eyes closed? There is a wonderful story about Karajan conducting in London. And he cues in a flute player like this. The guy has no idea what to do. (Laughter) "Maestro, with all due respect, when should I start?" What do you think Karajan's reply was? When should I start? Oh yeah. He says, "You start when you can't stand it anymore." (Laughter)

Meaning that you know you have no authority to change anything. It's my music. The real music is only in Karajan's head. And you have to guess my mind. So you are under tremendous pressure because I don't give you instruction, and yet, you have to guess my mind. So it's a different kind of, a very spiritual but yet, very firm control. Can we do it in another way? Of course we can. Let's go back to the first conductor we've seen: Carlos Kleiber, his name. Next video please.


(Laughter) Yeah. Well, it is different. But isn't that controlling in the same way? No it's not. Because he is not telling them what to do. When he does this, it's not, "Take your Stradivarius and like Jimi Hendrix, smash it on the floor." It's not that. He says, "This is the gesture of the music. I'm opening a space for you to put in another layer of interpretation." That is another story.

But how does it really work together if it doesn't give them instructions? It's like being on a rollercoaster. Yeah? You're not really given any instructions. But the forces of the process itself keep you in place. That's what he does. The interesting thing is of course the rollercoaster does not really exist. It's not a physical thing. It's in the players heads.

And that's what make them into partners. You have the plan in your head. You know what to do, even though Kleiber is not conducting you. But here and there and that. You know what to do. And you become a partner building the rollercoaster, yeah, with sound, as you actually take the ride. This is very exciting for those players. They do need to go to a sanatorium for two weeks, later. (Laughter) It is very tiring. Yeah? But it's the best music making, like this.

But of course it's not only about motivation and giving them a lot of physical energy. You also have to be very professional. And look again at this, Kleiber. Can we have the next video, quickly? You'll see what happens when there is a mistake.

(Music) Again you see the beautiful body language. (Music) And now there is a trumpet player who does something not exactly the way it should be done. Go along with the video. Look. See, second time for the same player. (Laughter) And now the third time for the same player. (Laughter) "Wait for me after the concert. I have a short notice to give you." You know, when it's needed, the authority is there. It's very important. But authority is not enough to make people your partners.

Let's see the next video please. See what happens here. You might be surprised having seen Kleiber as such a hyperactive guy. He's conducting Mozart. (Music) The whole orchestra is playing. (Music) Now something else. (Music) See? He is there 100 percent, but not commanding, not telling what to do. Rather enjoying what the soloist is doing. (Music)

Another solo now. See what you can pick up from this. (Music) Look at the eyes. Okay. You see that? First of all, it's a kind of a compliment we all like to get. It's not feedback. It's an "Mmmm ..." Yeah, it comes from here. So that's a good thing. And the second thing is it's about actually being in control, but in a very special way. When Kleiber does -- did you see the eyes, going from here? (Singing) You know what happens? Gravitation is no more.

Kleiber not only creates a process, but also creates the conditions in the world in which this process takes place. So again, the oboe player is completely autonomous and therefore happy and proud of his work, and creative and all of that. And the level in which Kleiber is in control is in a different level. So control is no longer a zero-sum game. You have this control. You have this control. And all you put together, in partnership, brings about the best music. So Kleiber is about process. Kleiber is about conditions in the world.

But you need to have process and content to create the meaning. Lenny Bernstein, my own personal maestro since he was a great teacher, Lenny Bernstein always started from the meaning. Look at this please.


Do you remember the face of Muti, at the beginning? Well he had a wonderful expression, but only one. (Laughter) Did you see Lenny's face? You know why? Because the meaning of the music is pain. And you're playing a painful sound. And you look at Lenny and he's suffering. But not in a way that you want to stop. It's suffering, like, enjoying himself in a Jewish way, as they say. (Laughter) But you can see the music on his face. You can see the baton left his hand. No more baton. Now it's about you, the player, telling the story. Now it's a reversed thing. You're telling the story. And you're telling the story. And even briefly, you become the storyteller to which the community, the whole community, listens to. And Bernstein enables that. Isn't that wonderful?

Now, if you are doing all the things we talked about, together, and maybe some others, you can get to this wonderful point of doing without doing. And for the last video, I think this is simply the best title. My friend Peter says, "If you love something, give it away." So, please.



Friday, December 11, 2009

Information Literacy…Authentic Conversation..Globalize Curriculum…

This is from the Langwitches Blog of November 28th, 2009, one of the many wonderful resources I have discovered (like Columbus discovered the Indians, these resources were already there, just wondering when I would bother to board my caravel and bump into them!)

In this video presented by Mobile Learning Institute:

Alan November tours his hometown of Marblehead, MA and comments on the historical global vision of his community. Alan challenges us to think about the emerging role of “student as contributor” and to globalize our curriculum by linking students with authentic audiences from around the world. (For more, read Alan’s article, Students as Contributors: The Digital Learning Farm.

Find more videos like this on NL Connect

This description caught my attention and I started playing the 13 minute video clip. The following thoughts from November resonated with me deeply as I watched and listened:

…[We need to ] convince schools, that we have to globalize the curriculum. We ought to have authentic conversation across the curriculum with people around the world over the Internet. Sadly, most schools use the Internet only to get information. People learn by having conversations and testing each other and trying to figure this out together. We are social beings. Engage kids socially across the web….

Authentic conversation with people from around the world… That is what I keep in my mind as the following project is evolving as a collaboration between myself, sixth grade students, their Social Studies and Hebrew teachers.

Students are participating in a Jewish History Fair. Their topic is “Jewish Communities Around the World.

In the old days...

In the old days... / CC BY 2.0

In the old days… students would have been given a specific topic, sent home, to the computer lab or the library to “look up” information. They would then have to write a report, print out images, glue them on a backboard and “present” that to parents and visitors at the History Fair.

In the 21st Century...

In the 21st Century... / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In the 21st century, we need to be looking for and addressing something more…

Information Literacy:

  • Online sites and books are still valid information sources, but are they enough to engage students and give them “authentic” sources?
  • Being able to get, evaluate and work with information from a variety of sources, such as books, almanacs, blogs, wikis, video, audio, interviews, etc.

Networking Literacy:

  • Learn about accessing a network of people who can contribute information from their own experiences, on location and customized (personalized) to our own criteria, not the one a publisher or author chose?

Communication skills:

  • being able to interview through a variety of media and communication methods and be familiar with their distinct etiquette.
    • face to face
    • e-mail
    • twitter
    • facebook
    • video conferencing (Skype)
    • texting
    • telephone
  • being able to present the information obtained through a variety a media (video, images, audio)

The topic is “Jewish Communities Around the World”… what better way to allow authentic research to take place than go directly to those communities around the world…this is when it comes in handy to have a network of willing and able people literally AROUND THE WORLD! I was off to send a twitter alert to my PLN.

Cry for Help to my PLN

Cry for Help to my PLN

I received instantly responses. We will have Jews born or currently residing in different countries/continents being interviewed by our students. At this point we have Jews from 12 countries and seven continents who have agreed to be interviewed (Canada, USA, Costa Rica, Mexico, Argentina, Denmark, England, Scotland, South Africa, Israel, China, Australia) plus two people stationed (currently or in the past) in the Antarctica.

Here is the initial e-mail, describing the project, sent out to these contacts:

The 6th graders at the Martin J Gottlieb Day School in Jacksonville, Florida/USA are starting to research for a Jewish History Fair. They will be looking at different Jewish communities around the world.
Students will research with books and via the internet to develop questions that they want to ask Jews who are living on different countries and continents. We want them to interview with /through different media. Some interviews will be face to face here in town, but we would also like to give them the opportunity to conduct interviews via skype, email and twitter in order to strengthen information and media literacy.
One of our main objectives is for students to see commonalities among different communities.

Would you be interested in participating and willing to be interviewed? We would send questions ahead of time, if the interview is conducted via Skype or twitter? This won’t happen until close to the beginning of December.
Please get in contact with me, so I can answer any questions that you might have.

Thank you so much in advance!

After I received confirmation of their willingness to participate as an interviewee, they were then asked to send us a short biography:

We are continuing to work and prepare with our students for the Jewish History Fair: Jewish Communities Around the World. Thank you for agreeing to participate as an Interviewee.
As students are formulating interview questions, they would benefit from having a short biography from you, describing your background and involvement as a Jew in the country you were born in or are currently residing.
The bio only has to be a few short sentence to give our students just a little background.

Our projected time line to work with the students is as follows:

  1. Introduction to project
  2. Introduction to different media, students will be interviewing. Talk about required etiquette of different media…differences…similarities…
  3. Student introduced to biographies of interviewees
  4. Assign Students an interviewee/country/continent
  5. Students will research background information that will help them form an notion of the community interviewee has grown up/is residing
  6. Students will develop questions for the interviewees that will be send ahead of time
  7. Setting up up date and medium of interview to be conducted
  8. Students will interview
  9. Students will connect the information gathered to create their own understanding of Jewish communities, especially commonalities, around the world.
  10. Students decide in what shape and form their will demonstrate what they learned.
  11. Students will produce final product to be displayed with globe and History Fair.

I am getting very excited to observe students and their research outcome as the actual interviews are being conducted. I wonder what media students will prefer and get the most out of? I wonder if certain student personalities/learning styles will naturally gravitate towards one or another media?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

And Now, For Something Completely Different...

So like many of you, I just received an e-mail from Cherie Koller-Fox, one of the founders of CAJE, an old friend and the "facilitator" of NewCAJE, which was officially unveiled this afternoon. I am feeling a bit like Tevye considering each of his daughters' requests: "On the one hand...but on the other hand..."

Since my first conference in DeKalb, IL in 1986(?) CAJE was home. It was where I learned to teach with the big kids (literally, the leadership was riddled with people who had been my camp counselors, youth group advisors, religious school teachers and the authors of the textbooks we had in Sunday school). It was where I got to meet new people from all over the world - like Rafi Zarum and Sybil Sheridan, Ed Feinstein and Amichai Lau-Lavie - who were teaching in ways that were new and exciting. And where people whose teaching and story-telling skills would come and learn with me in my sessions as I developed more confidence, and built me up by giving me praise and constructive criticism.

It was for many of those years, the only place where I knew I would be having Shabbat dinner with a mixed salad of Jews: Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, Israeli Secular, Chabad, Renewal, Humanistic, Sephardic Orthodox, Young Israel, Labor, Likud, hetero, GLBT, confirmed bachelor, day school, congregational, camping, agency, early childhood, musician, actor, storyteller, cybergeek, teenager, college kid, grandparent and everything in between. My wife was usually happy to see me go to CAJE, because she saw how it recharged me and how it energized the teachers in my school.

When the CAJE-isphere bubble burst, I was not the only one who was sad. I was also not the only one who began to to think - and some said - that we may have stayed at the same party too long. Peter Eckstein tried mightily to steer the St. Louis conference in a new direction that would speak to the needs of the new generation. The founders of CAJE created the paradigm ex nihilo when many of them were in their twenties. They were my camp counselors. I am now 48 years old (and Peter a little older). When those of us on the pre-planning task force were brought together by Peter it was to try and reshape the paradigm to begin to meet the needs of those now the age the founders had been. To renew and redefine.

It was a noble effort, but after more than three decades, CAJE had become a huge institution. My teacher Sam Joseph of HUC in Cincinnati often compares large synagogues to Nimitz class aircraft carriers. (That's the USS Nimitz at left) Nimitz class ships are the largest in the world.

They measure 1,092 feet (2/10 of a mile) long, are powered by two nuclear reactors, carry a crew of 3,200 plus the Air Wing (pilots and support crew) which has 2,480 people and as many as 85 aircraft of varying types. At full speed they can travel at 30 knots (about 35 mph) - which when you consider they displace 112 tons of water at full load, is a lot of metal moving really fast - a Nimitz class ship takes SEVEN nautical miles to turn 90 degrees. Large institutions like big synagogues - and CAJE - are not able to turn on a dime!

After the bubble burst, and while much of the hand wringing was done, a conversation began. Cherie Koller-Fox and many others began talking on the CAJE Net, a Ning site begun before the final conference. And Josh Mason-Barkin and Danny Kochavi started a Google group. There was a lot of interaction in both places which included a lot of the same people.

There emerged a group of vatikim - CAJE veterans - of various ages who wanted to fix the financial disaster and rebuild CAJE in the image of the original. Others, many younger, felt that it would be better to create something as new and different as CAJE had been in the 60's. Some wanted to act quickly, others wanted to wait. I participated in some of those discussions. Some became a little heated, but I believe all were B'shem Shamayim - for the sake of heaven (and Jewish Education).

A Beta version of the NewCAJE (or a nostolgic nod to old CAJE, depending on your perspective) was put together as the MANAJE
conference this past August. People who attended speak glowingly of it. So now NewCAJE has been unveiled. Part of me wants to go home and is eager for NewCAJE to be, in the words of David Byrne: "Same as it ever was." But mostly I am hoping that younger voices will jump into the breach that Cherie and some of our vatikim have opened and help to shape it into what we will need to take us forward.

NewCAJE is no longer a Nimitz class organization. That is scary. It has little in the way of money or infrastructure. It is also wonderful. If the twentySomthings and thirtySomethings will step up and teach something to the rest of us, NewCAJE is now stripped down and nimble enough weave through the traffic of this Brave New (and often digital) world. It is ready to become something new while remembering the lessons and traditions of what came before.

Joel Grishaver taught us all that the "True Story of Chanukah" had five different endings. Each ending told the story in a way that made sure the new genereation would understand AND embrace it. NewCAJE gives us the chance to do that again! NewCAJE needs to be more new than CAJE. I believe we can make it happen, if we all work (and argue) together. I hope we all step up.