Rabbi Tali Zelkowicz, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Jewish Education at HUC-JIR’s Rhea Hirsch School of Education, initiated a correspondence and made a symbiotic proposal. In a course she teaches entitled “Sociology of Jewish Education” students are required to write an article for a publication to which reflective practitioners of Jewish education are invited to contribute. Each article strives to meet three criteria:
- Address a dilemma, concern or problem facing Jewish education
- Provide some social scientific context for the issue
- Offer a creative, refreshing, compelling analysis of the issue and propose a course of action and/or vision for change
The result is a harmony that leaves the integrity of each voice. Out of this conversation emerges a masechet, a type of web, a web that links dor holech to dor hemshech, the current generation of Jewish educators to the next generation of Jewish educators. The web intended to catch you, the reader, in it. Indeed, if the web stops within the pages of Torah at the Center, we will have
failed to accomplish a major aim. The web of Jewish learning should include you, your teachers, your colleagues and your students. At stake are not only our livelihoods as Jewish educators but also our lives as Jews.
When Abraham proverbially overthrew his father’s idols, he “created” Judaism. When the next generation of the Jewish people follows Abraham’s lead, they too will be [re]creating Judaism in their image. The process is sometimes painful and radical. It is always predicated on a measure of faith and trust. Terach could not control Abraham and we cannot control our children or our students. Instead, we have endeavored to keep the intergenerational conversation alive, to pursue a dialogue that is as respectful of our differences as it is of our commonalities (if not more so). We are truly children of Abraham when we question the wisdom of our predecessors, when we dare to think differently from them.
When our children and students do the same to us, may we have the ability to enjoy the process and love them for it. Eventually Abraham learned to engage in respectful dialogue, even when his partner was divine. When he had his own scion, Abraham learned to love and to realize that love and sacrifice are always intertwined. May the spirit of intergenerational correspondence in this issue prove to be worthy, not only for the sake of our students but also for the sake of heaven. As we approach Sinai once again on Shavuot and celebrate our students that confirm their Jewish identity, let us affirm the hope we have that the next generation will not only succeed us, but also exceed us.
Ken y’hi ratzoneinu! Ken y’hi ratzon Eloheinu! Kayitz naim!
Have a lovely summer!
Rabbi Jan Katzew, Ph.D., RJE
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