The Jewish Theological Seminary


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Issue 1, Winter 2014

Dear Friend,

Welcome to Gleanings, the first edition of the new ejournal from the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of The Jewish Theological Seminary.

A repository of ideas and exploration, theories and experience, and anecdotes and essays by teachers and other experts in the field of Jewish Education, Gleanings offers news and perspectives on the very best in the profession, and introduces the cutting-edge principles, concepts, and programs that continue to be developed and implemented by The Davidson School.

We hope you enjoy this first issue of Gleanings, and look forward to your questions, thoughts, and comments at jasilverman@jtsa.edu.

William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education
of The Jewish Theological Seminary

Check out a sampling of just some of our programs.

At The Davidson School

The William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education strengthens the quality of Jewish life through the power of Jewish education. The largest multidenominational school of Jewish education in North America, The Davidson School offers both academic degrees and a wide range of services related to professional learning and curriculum design and application. Read more about our programs:

* MA In Jewish Education
* Doctor in Jewish Education
* Professional Development and Curriculum

Education projects at The Davidson School are generously funded by the Alan B. Slifka Foundation, AVI CHAI Foundation, Covenant Foundation, Jim Joseph Foundation, and the William Davidson Foundation.

MA Degree




On Experiential Learning

All About Experiential (Jewish) Education:
The Mystery Revealed

Mark S. Young is the program coordinator of the Experiential Learning Initiative at The Davidson School.

Experiential education is the mysterious term that has enveloped our field over the past decade. What are we educators, learners, administrators, and philanthropists supposed to do with this term? What are its meanings and nuances, and how have they been interpreted? What do the opportunities and potential of experiential education represent within our larger field of Jewish education?

Read More

Provocative Projects: Emergent Curriculum Practices in Jewish Early Childhood Education

Lyndall Miller is the director of the Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute (JECELI).

Anyone who works in early childhood education is familiar with the words developmentally appropriate practice (DAP). This phrase implies that the mental tools with which children approach the world evolve with age and experience, and our educational practices need to match these expanding abilities. We know from research and experience that young children are not just inexperienced adults.

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Take the EJE Challenge
(It's Not What You Think)

Jeffrey S. Kress is the interim dean of The Davidson School.

Harry Potter and friends are on the run. They have already made it most of the way through the lengthy series, so they must be exhausted. Now they encounter a new challenge: whenever someone utters the name of the evil villain-who-shall-not-be-named, one of the villain’s henchmen pops up. The word itself serves as a GPS homing device. Though only fiction, it is an example of words shaping reality.

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From Chair Pose to Congregational School Poised for Change

Zachary Lasker is director of Melton Research Center and Davidson School Education Projects at The Davidson School.

This summer I was in Cleveland teaching a course on Jewish education, and after days of sitting, my legs yearned to stretch. Nervously, I entered a nearby yoga studio. I’d only been practicing for 18 months. At home I had managed to overcome my insecurity as one of life’s least coordinated individuals by sticking with a few particular instructors. In Cleveland, I was out of my comfort zone—new location, new class, new teacher. We proceeded through a series of poses to which I was, thankfully, accustomed.

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Take It in Three

Rachel Meytin is the BBYO director of Panim and Jewish Enrichment.

Judaism has a lot of threes: three moments of daily prayer, three things on which the world rests (al haTorah, al haAvodah, v’al Gemilut Hasidim [Pirkei Avot 1:2]), and three historical divisions (Cohen, Levi, and Israelite)—three parts that together form the whole people of Israel.

Threes are poetic and easy to remember, and it’s unsurprising that they show up regularly in traditional and modern thought.

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Seeking “Hol-y-stic” Educators

Jason Gitlin (The Rabbinical School of JTS ’13) is project manager for ReFrame: Experiential Education in Congregational Schools, a new JTS initiative.

I remember the first time I heard my teacher speak about his life as a stutterer. He told us that he felt incapacitated by his speech. At one of the most important moments of his life, he almost allowed the disability to engulf him and dictate his aspirations and goals.

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Active Experience for Transformative Leadership Development

Ray Levi is a mentor in The Davidson School’s Day School Leadership Training Institute. He is head of school emeritus of the Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School.

“The one who studies in order to practice will be enabled to study and to teach, to observe and to practice.” (Pirkei Avot 4:5)

At first glance, the large lobby at The Jewish Theological Seminary seems to be the setting for a morning reception being held by the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education...

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Applying Studies in Experiential Education to the Classroom: Focus on Brianna Spatz

Brianna Spatz is a graduate student at The Davidson School, working toward her MA in Jewish Education.

Last year, Brianna Spatz taught in a Hebrew school on the Upper West Side. This year, she took on a new type of teaching experience, an online course, even though she was apprehensive about the new medium.

Read More



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