By Dara Steinberg, Executive Director
The world of virtual education is still very new for the Jewish community, but it has proven its potential elsewhere in the broader education world to create impactful, creative learning environments. Virtual tools can enable an excellent educator to get into more classrooms with great efficiency – which has some tremendous implications for the many Jewish communities in the US and around the world. By expanding access to great teachers, to unique teachers, organizations can add needed variety to their classes’ curricula, it opens non-traditional methods of Torah learning to audiences that might not otherwise have access, and allows a talented small organization to scale its impact. Continue reading
Why do Jews today connect with Jewish practices and ideas? For some it may be a desire to pass on hallowed traditions. For others, an innate sense of pride. For still others: guilt. Or, all of the above (at some point or another).
There is another kind of motivation to ‘do Jewish’ that I’m interested in understanding, because I feel it myself and I wonder where it fits. I feel it when at a Shabbat meal I hear and sing a melody that resonates and reverberates around me – sometimes because it is the tune of that time of year, other times because of the beauty of the melody itself. It comes when I emerge from a pre-holiday mikvah, ready to be new again. It arises when I look around a kumtzitz campfire, take in the faces of people I am connected to and sense the way in which together we make a community.
If pressed to choose a word for this feeling, I would call it ‘joy.’ Perhaps I could call it ‘pleasure,’ but pleasure can sound so hedonistic. Better yet, Simcha is a Hebrew word that comes closer, but maybe that’s because I read more layers of meaning into a Hebrew term than into a stark English word. Regardless of what we call it, it is a very positive feeling. A Gen-Xer who grew up in a mostly ritually unobservant home, as an adult I participate in Jewish practices … because I enjoy them. Continue reading