Jewish Education at The Davidson School

The Blog

Karina Zilberman on Intergenerational Jewish Experiences

Posted by Danny on February 25, 2013 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (0)

"In 2007, Shababa started as a musical Shabbat gathering of a handful of families singing with Karina in a corner of the 92Y lobby. It rapidly became a vibrant, bursting community, where families with young children are part of an intergenerational, inclusive Jewish experience" (

Karina Zilberman, Director of Jewish Familiy Life and Culture for the 92nd Street Y, and creator of the 92Y Shababa Community, came to JTS today as part of the Davidson School Experiential Learning Initiative Lunch and Learn Series to lead an interactive Shababa workshop, so we as educators could experience Shababa and understand and reflect on Karina's goals and methods. Zilberman aims to create an experience that people of all ages can connect to. Of Shababa, she says, "It's not a 'program,' and it's not a 'tot shabbat' or 'children's programming.' It is an intergenerational experience. When a child sees grownups involved in what he or she is involved in, it amplifies that experience for the child because it is as if the adult is saying to the child, 'I am not here because of you, but because I need this experience, too." 

Zilberman reminded us that as educators we have to connect to ourselves. If what we do does not connect to our essence, it will not resonate with our audience. "If we do not allow ourselves to have authentic, inspiring experiences, we will never be able to create trustworthy educational experiences for others." Zilberman is clearly inspired and we thank her for sharing her light with us!

The Davidson School.. in Israel!!

Posted by Mark on January 14, 2013 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Happy 2013! 24 Davidson MA students are beginning the secular year on our annual Vision and Voices Seminar in Israel, a 10 day journey that explores various components and issues of Israeli society and Jewish history, enabling our students to strengthen their knowledge and skills on how best and most thoughtfully act as Israel educators in North America.

Davidson students dance with Israeli Arabs during their mifgash (encounter) in the Galil village of Deir Al Assad in the Israeli North

Students have thus far visited many communities in the Galilee (in the northern region of the country), dialoguing with Israeli Arabs and various Kibbutzim (communities unique to Israel), hiked in the Negev (desert) and spent Shabbat with Israeli students studying education, discussing Israeli-Diaspora relations and questions of Jewish identity. Students are currently traveling around Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv before 14 return home, while 10 are staying for Davidson's Kesher-Hadash Semester in Israel program.

Read more about the students' experiences and reflections throughout the trip and semester ahead on the Davidson School in Israel Blog.

Regular blog entries will resume next week when our Spring 2013 semester commences!

Student Spotlight - Eden Pearlstein

Posted by Danny on December 3, 2012 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Eden Pearlstein is a 2nd year Davidson student concentrating in Jewish Experiential Education. 

1. You have been involved in Jewish Education since before you came to Davidson. What specific skills/knowledge/etc did you hope to gain from the Jewish Experiential Education program at Davidson?

I had been doing everything in a super DIY kind of way, and flying by the seat of my pants. I had a modicum of success and good responses but when the opportunity arose to get formal training in education I decided to seize the opportunity to enhance my abilities to effectively communicate and inspire people with the depths and heights of Jewish tradition. Another major attraction was the opportunity to learn Hebrew in a prolonged and structured environment; I want to be able to reference source texts in my teaching, and finally be done with relying on translations. 

2. What has been most valuable to you, so far, from your experience at Davidson?

A lot. It's been incredibly valuable to me to think seriously about education and to learn pedagogic concepts as well as the ins and outs of teaching. I appreciate the opportunity to think about education on a deep level, as opposed to always educating but never reflecting, which is what I was doing before I came to Davidson. And of course the structured study of Jewish philosophy, ideas, sociology, and history with amazing professors and awesome classmates that are totally inspiring and who are sharing their journeys with each other. 

3. Where is your practicum this year and what are you most excited about that you're working on there?

My practicum is with the Department of Education at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park, where my mentor is JTS alumnus Paul Radensky, Ph.D., Manager of Education Programs (GS '01, PhD, 2001). I'm most excited about a curriculum I'm working on called the Interfaith Living Museum, which will be taken to two Muslim and two Jewish day schools. The students will take trips together and collaborate on projects, spend time together and learn from and about each other. Ultimately they will set up a gallery exhibit at the museum that will be comprised of cultural and religious artifacts from their own homes. I really believe in the project; I think it is relevant, needed, and exciting. Teachers who have used the curriculum in the past say that it really connects these kids in a profound way and results in lasting friendships.




Eden is also an underground MC active in both the Jewish and Indy cultural scenes. As a solo artist, Eden releases music under the name "Eprhyme" (  - (, and as a collaborative artist Eden works with Romemu's Musical Director Shir Yaakov on a musical midrash project called "Darshan" (

For the most part, Eden's commercial music career is on hiatus as he slugs through the packed schedule of a graduate degree, but according to "Eprhyme", there are still some tricks up his sleeve.

Dr. Jeff Kress Presents His New Book

Posted by Danny on November 29, 2012 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Last night Dr. Jeffrey Kress presented his new book, "Development, Learning and Community: Educating for Identity in Pluralistic Jewish High Schools," to a collection of faculty and students. He explained that the book arose from the question: Why is there a distinction between formal and informal (or experiential) education? Why not consider the point of view of the student - who experiences both of these?

Dr. Kress concluded his presentation by posing questions provoked by his research:

Is the classroom the final frontier of experiential education in informal settings?

Is there a common framework of goals and "actice ingredients" that can apply to educational experiences wherever they take place?

To learn more, read the book!

JELI Fellows Visit Davidson

Posted by Danny on November 14, 2012 at 9:40 PM Comments comments (0)

On Tuesday, Davidson MA students studying Jewish Experiential Education had the opportunity to meet the JELI Fellows.


The Jewish Experiential Leadership Institute (JELI), a leadership and professional development program designed for JCC professionals, was co-launched by the JCC Association and the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in March 2012. The 15-month program is designed as an in-service program for middle- and senior-management professionals in Jewish Community Centers throughout North America. The initial cohort of 18 fellows learn to apply Jewish frameworks—including values, ethics, texts, and traditions—to setting their organizations’ vision, executing day-to-day management, and developing their own leadership identities. JELI’s primary goal is to enhance the personal growth, Jewish leadership abilities, and professional skill sets of talented emerging leaders working in settings that nurture Jewish experiential education programs.


The luncheon, at JTS while the fellows were learning during their week long retreat, was a great opportunity for the Davidson students to hear from JELI fellows as they share what they love about their work - and what their greatest challenges are. Students also had the chance to share the same about themselves - and to ask questions of the JELI fellows. Both fellows and students were enriched and invigorated by their time together.

Alex Schostak Prepares Exhibit at YU Museum

Posted by Danny on October 29, 2012 at 9:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Alex Schostak is a second year Davidson student in the experiential concentration. His practicum this year is at the Yeshiva University Museum where he is an education intern and curatorial assistant. He is working on research and curriculum development for the upcoming eruv exhibition as well as a forthcoming exhibit focused on Shabbat and Jewish holiday ritual objects. For the eruv exhibition, Alex has worked on background research, finding written material to be included In an interactive exhibit, and developing lesson plans for guided tours. He will be facilitating tours and experiential programs for students as part of the eruv and holiday exhibitions. In addition to work on the exhibitions, Alex is also working on experiential workshop planning and facilitation for students and families at the museum.

About the eruv exhibit:

The eruv is one of the most fascinating, though little understood and sometimes controversial concepts in Jewish life. Now, for the first time, it’s the subject of an exhibition opening this week – It’s a Thin Line: The Eruv and Jewish Community in New York and Beyond – at Yeshiva University Museum, near Union Square in Manhattan. The eruv is not just a concept. It’s also a physical creation that powerfully affects the lives of observant Jews. Without an eruv, parents couldn’t even carry their children on the Sabbath. It’s a Thin Line traces the history of the eruv and its adaptation into New York’s urban environment, and raises provocative questions. 

The YU Museum is located at 15 W. 16th St. between Fifth and Sixth Ave. It's a Thin Line will be available for guests to the YU Museum: Mondays 5-8PM, Wednesdays 11am-8pm, and Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays 11am-5pm.

Images of Eruvs from Ecclesiastical Constitution of Contemporary Jews, Particularly Those in Germany, Johann Christoph Georg Bodenschatz, 1717 - 1797, Collection of YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

Educators' Resources Available on Davidson Blog

Posted by Danny on October 23, 2012 at 9:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Visit the Resources section of the Davidson Blog to find helpful information and services for Jewish educators.

We will be continuing to add links to the resources page. Highlighted this week:

The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education of the School of Education at Bar-Ilan University was established to promote Jewish education in the Diaspora. It focuses on leadership programs, teacher and curriculum development, as well as interactive communication and networking for Jewish educators worldwide.

The Lookjed Digest is an email-based forum for Jewish educators. "The classroom problem that you have, the idea that you are working on, the question that your student asked that has you stumped, can all be shared with other teachers who have, perhaps, grappled with these issue before" (

Below, please read a tantalizing quote from a recent edition. The post's title? "Grading Like God".

The premise of the Teshuva process is remarkable: if one follows the proper steps of Teshuva, he is forgiven for his transgression. Actually, to be more precise, his sin is atoned for, wiped clean, struck from the record.

 ...Why don’t we adopt this same attitude and strategy in our classrooms? If our goal as educators is indeed to educate, to develop the faculties and powers of our students, then why do we not allow our students to master what we are teaching them?

(full text available on Lookjed's threaded archives.)

If you would like to subscribe to Lookjed, go to the on-line form at

Student Spotlight - Dana Levinson

Posted by Danny on September 10, 2012 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Dana Levinson is a second year student in the Jewish Experiential Education concentration. In this interview she tells us about what brought her to Jewish education, what she sees as an area for improvement in Jewish Education, and about her project for the Jewish Futures Competition.

Why did you choose the field of Jewish education?

Choosing the field of Jewish education came quite naturally to me as I grew older and as my experiences within the Jewish world became more profound. As I became more involved in USY as a teen, Ramah as a young professional, and other Jewish ventures throughout university, it became increasingly clear to me that the field I was most interested in working in--and growing in--was Jewish education. It was a field that I felt was progressing and evolving, and this evolution was something I wanted to be a part of.

Why did you choose Davidson?

 I chose Davidson because the new Experiential Education concentration seemed right up my alley. It was innovative and exciting and allowed for a tremendous amount of learning opportunities that would guide me on the right path as a Jewish professional.

What do you see as the greatest opportunity / area for growth or improvement in the world of Jewish education?

 Israel education is an ever evolving process and the way in which it is encountered leaves much room for growth and improvement. Programs and resources that focus both on content and emotional connection are crucial, as are fostering and strengthening relationships between young Israelis and young Americans. The area I find most interesting is the growth of cultural literacy between these two social groups.

What are you learning at Davidson that you are most excited about?

I'm excited about the Jewish media course I'm taking right now, as I have always been fascinated by the cultural implications that Judaism and Jewishness have had on American popular culture.

Please tell us about your project for the Jewish Futures Competition.

Last December Ramah received a Signature Grant from the Covenant Foundation which enabled us the privilege of hiring RustyBrick app developers to fulfill the vision of creating a Ramah social networking app for Iphones, Androids, and Ipads. The goal of the app is to allow our Ramah staff members to engage in the actual world using a virtual platform, ie: the app, and utilize the Jewish leadership that they acquire all summer long during the year. The app is made up of a series of missions that fall into categories such as Israel Education, Tikkun Olam, Alumni Engagement, etc. In order for the user to complete a mission and earn points, they must upload a photo or a video and share it in the virtual space. The app is a great way for staff to connect in both the actual worlds and the virtual worlds and promote a sense of togetherness and Jewish values.

Voices of Jewish Educators-in-Training

Posted by Danny on September 5, 2012 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Classes have resumed at JTS! On Wednesday a reporter stationed himself in the JTS lobby. Amidst the rush of students waiting to take the elevators up to their classes a few Davidson students were kind enough to share their thoughts regarding the new school year. 

The students responded to these questions: What are you most excited about this year? What projects are you working on?

Their responses show that Davidson students are energized and looking forward to a year of learning, personal growth, and meeting new friends. Please enjoy these voices of Jewish educators-in-training.

Sigal Hirsch, Jackie Schreiber, Allison Adges, Samantha Vinokor, Rebecca Nadis, and Julie Goodman are looking forward to learning within JTS's Jewish community. Plus: find out what class everyone is talking about!

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Jenna Daniels can't wait to improve the experience of synagogue school staff. Guess where her High Holy Day pulpit is?

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Josh Jacobs can finally find his way around JTS...almost. Find out what he wants to spend "hours" studying.

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Nicole Raphael will be teaching at a well-known Upper West Side synagogue this year. Discover what she considers to be "a huge, huge, honor."

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Yael Hammerman will be offering rabbinic as well as educational services to a synagogue in Queens. Find out why she is a resource for women at JTS.

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Davidson Alumni Spotlight: David Wolkin - Limmud NY Exec. Dir

Posted by Mark on August 27, 2012 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (0)

How are Davidson alumni impacting the Jewish field? Take David Wolkin.

Wolkin (DS 2007), who has helped transform synagogue youth and family programs at both Cenrtal Synagogue and Temple Emanu-El in New York City, is now in his second full year as Executive Director of LIMMUD-NY. LIMMUD-NY holds an annual weekend of learning and several smaller group learning opportunities each year that welcomes hundreds of educators, learning, adults, teens, and young children to meet and celebrate Jewish life and learning together. LIMMUD-NY 2013 is President's Day weekend in New Brunsick, NJ.

Read David's latest article on creating a community of LIMMUD Educators in today's ejewishphilanthropy.