August 15, 2020 |

Grade 1 A PERSON IS A TREE OF THE FIELD, learning cohort, May 10, 2016

Posted on May 11, 2016

Since February, Ann Green and I have been fortunate enough to be sponsored by Temple Israel in a new cohort of learning sponsored by Hebrew College and the CJP Boston-Haifa Connection.  Our teachers are Rachel Raz and Linna Ettinger/  Through the subject A Person is a Tree of the Field (Deut. 20:19), we have explored the diversity of trees—and people, how we can help students and families make the most of their roots and branches to reach their full potential, etc.
In the first session, we teachers explored our own identities and examined how they influence our teaching.  Using words and blank spaces, I described myself as “I am a dedicated American Jewish educator in a very committed Temple Community.” (Temple Israel).  We also created nametags that would identify our strengths and interests; mine is in the photo below.
In our second session, we studied The Tapestry of the American Jewish Community. Guest speakers from the Reform and Modern Orthodox movements and from outreach to interfaith families spoke to describe their aims.  Temple Israel’s Rabbi Daniel Liben represented the Conservative movement. We considered, “How welcoming are we to different groups?”
Then we observed diversity in the Israeli community, so that we might better understand life in Israel and in the Israeli community in Boston.  There are many kinds of Israelis, from secular to observant.  Israel, like the United States, is a nation of immigrants.   We sampled foods from Morocco and other Jewish regions.  We observed different styles of synagogue architecture and even if the synagogues needed guards for protection. We also listened to various versions of Adon Olam.
In our most recent class, we learned about the family dynamic.  Using the symbolism of trees, how do we nourish children and their families?  Does each tree have enough room to grow?  Some trees are evergreen, while others need to shed leaves as they absorb energy for future growth.  Some ideas we encourage are Jewish and universal values, safe place to be, warmth, and community.  We try to help everyone put down strong roots and grow healthy branches.  Most important is a sense of Jewish identity.
Thank you, Temple Israel, for sponsoring Ann and me in this opportunity for growth as educators.
Judy Azer