One-Sixtieth of Prophecy is RAVSAK's collaborative blog where dreams are shared, ideas are bruited, conversations are sparked, connections are forged and initiatives are sketched, in service of strengthening, inspiring, reflecting upon, and dreaming up new visions for Jewish day school education.
After nine—wonderful—years working at RAVSAK, and preparing for the excitement of the beginnings of our work at NewOrg, I find myself looking for a way to understand this point of transition that is an ending and beginning at once. I want to do justice to our sense that something extraordinary happened at RAVSAK, the rapid growth of an organization devoted to Jewish unity within diversity, rich Jewish learning, and a strong Jewish mission.
Much of current educational thought focuses on the lesson plan. The curriculum should use backward design; lessons should clearly flow from a guiding question. Class time, limited as it often is, should be divided into even smaller units, with students rapidly ushered from one activity to the next in order to maximize their ability to concentrate and benefit from the exercises.
During this year, all Americans, and many abroad as well, have the US presidential elections close to the surface of our minds. Our students and their families are likely talking about it, listening to the news, watching debates, reading analyses and catching videos, arguing with friends, following polls and primary results. We may be concerned that they are not always getting the impression we would want of our democracy, with the vicious name-calling, targeting of groups of people, and at times the racist, misogynistic and anti-Semitic voices that have emerged.
A recent viral news segment showed an unusual location for a school: a preschool in Seattle is situated inside of a senior care center. Appropriately named the Intergenerational Learning Center, the school facilitates interactions between seniors and preschoolers every day, in both planned activities and sponteneous encounters.
As we draw closer to the transition between RAVSAK’s close and NewOrg’s emergence, I find myself taking stock of RAVSAK, thinking about my feelings of admiration and collegiality for the numerous extraordinary day school educators and supporters in our world, and reflecting upon the splendid jewel that is a community day school. The work of leading, teaching in, and sustaining community day schools requires absolute passion and commitment, along with equal doses of wisdom and intelligence.
Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy (HBHA), a Jewish day school in Overland Park, Kansas, and my home since kindergarten, has always emphasized the pursuit of justice. In the past few years, the effort to connect HBHA high schoolers more closely to the local and global community through social justice work enabled my classmates and me to partner with Kansas City, Mo.-based University Academy (UA) students. Together, we have tackled issues such as voter registration, local politics and early education and childhood development.
As we are preparing to end one chapter with the close of RAVSAK and begin the next with the start of an integrated day school organization, we will be taking the opportunity in this summer’s HaYidion to celebrate RAVSAK’s history. For this process, we are reviewing the archives of documents that have been saved: announcements of the founding of the organization, conference invitations, tax letters, meeting protocols, membership registers, early issues of the newsletter that became HaYidion, and more.
I turned on my computer and scanned through the new emails in my inbox. I saw a new letter from the 2nd grade teacher who was sharing her results from the science pre-assessment activity, used to determine who qualified for the new 2nd grade science enrichment class. As I scrolled down the list I was glad to see an even mix of boys and girls and then, to my surprise, I saw the name of one of the students on my intervention caseload. Her name was there among the top 4 in her class, who scored 90% or higher on the pre-assessment for the Magnetism Unit.