Jewish Education at The Davidson School

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Davidson's Kesher Hadash Spotlight in the NY Jewish Week!

Posted by Mark on August 22, 2012 at 8:10 AM Comments comments (0)

We knew our new Kesher Hadash: Semester-in-Israel program was pretty great! We are excited to share a program write up in this week's New York Jewish Week; spotlighting Davidson student's Eli Bass, Dana Levinson, and Sarah Sechan with comments by Kesher Hadash Director Dr. Alex Sinclair and Associate Dean Ofra Backenroth.


Here is the article link:

The second cohort of Kesher Hadash leaves for Israel this Winter!

Davidson Students Educate, Enjoy and Learn at Jewish Camp!

Posted by Mark on July 24, 2012 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

It's been a fun week for me!

As coordinator of experiential learning at the Davidson School, part of my role is to share our work with folks at Jewish camps, and to visit our students working andlearning at camps throughout the country! On Monday July 23rd I visited Camp Ramah in Nyack Day Camp, where Davidson students Rabbi Ami Hersh (DS 13) (with his "young" camper below) Dani Levinson (DS 13), Ilana Sidorsky (DS 14) and Naomi Kachel (DS 13) (smiling with me during evening announcements) are creating exciting and meaningful Jewish experiences every day for K - 8th Grade campers during the day, and their staff in the evening who live on the Camp grounds all summer long. Naomi is a Counselor, Ilana and Dani are co-Rosh Edah (unit heads) for the 3rd grade unit (of 130 Kids!), and Ami is Assistant Director, working under Director Amy Skopp-Cooper, also a JTS MA in Education graduate!

On Tuesday July 24th I travelled up to Falls Village, CT, home of the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. Not your typical Jewish Camp, Isabella Freedman hosts learning opportunities and retreats for youth and adults alike. It is also the home of ADAMAH, which provides educational programs connecting environmental principals and priorities to Judiasm and Jewish Education. Sarah Chandler (DS '05), the ADAMAH Associate Director, hired Davidson Student Danny Drachsler (DS '14, below leading a mixer) as a summer intern, and Danny has been busy farming, cooking, working with the animals (including goats, like the one with me below!), and developing Jewish educational curriculum for ADAMAH. Isabella Freedman will also host Davidson's Fall retreat for experiential Master's students at the end of August!

Wishing Davidson students and alumni in Jewish camps throughout the county and enjoyable and meaningful rest of your summer! Don't forget to wear your hat, put on sunscreen and drink lots of water!

-Mark S. Young, Program Coordinator of the Davidson Experiential Learning Initiative

Davidson Student Spotlight: Etta Abramson - ELI Talks

Posted by Mark on July 20, 2012 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (1)

The, ELI Talks - Inspired Jewish Ideas, series recently had a fantastic speaker share her experiences and ideas for interpreting Jewish Texts Through Drama in the Classroom. That speaker was Etta Abramson, a second year Davidson Master's Degree student.

Etta, an actor, singer and Jewish educator, enlightened the audience with her background and approach to Jewish education in ways that transmit not only Jewish knowledge but enrich Jewish identity through the creative arts.

Watch for yourself! See Etta's ELI Talk by clicking the link below.. 

Student Spotlight: Aharon Varady and the Open Siddur Project

Posted by Mark on June 13, 2012 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Aharon Varady has been influencing the world of Jewish education, ritual and knowledge sharing long before he entered the inaugural Master's cohort studying Jewish Experiential Education last fall.

Aharon is the founder of the Open Siddur Project, a social network focused on publishing built around privacy, collaboration, and a public database and digital library of Jewish liturgy in a format that can easily show historical variations and changes across Jewish traditions, manuscripts, and facsimile editions.

Aharon, who recently completed Davidson's Kesher Hadash - semester in Israel program, was recently interviewed by Professor Alan Jacobs of Wheaton College on his work with Open Siddur.  In his interview Aharon shares the power of the project to engage: "By using free-culture and open source licensing, everyone who wants to participate in Judaism (or any religion) as a collaborative and creatively vital culture, can do so..."

You can read the full interview here:

Reaching out for hope...Transit Jerusalem with Eli Bass

Posted by Mark on May 17, 2012 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Israel is a place where Jewish values should come to life. But what about Jewish values and the environment? Davidson student Eli Bass (above), who is studying Jewish experiential education and participated in Davidson's Kesher Hadash semester in Israel program, created an engaging and important video exploring challenging in the city of Jerusalem's approach to transportation. He reveals the established urban plans that perhaps do not reflect an ideal Jewish society that promotes healthy living and sustainability, but also highlighted Jersualem's new projects, specifically its light rail system and its critical mass movement who are attempting create a city that better reflects these Jewish values.

Check out Eli's work here.



Kesher Hadash Update

Posted by Mark on May 3, 2012 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Kehser Hadash students at the David Yellin College in the Diversity in Israel class. The students take the class with Palestinian students. As a result of class interactions, some of the Palestinian students have become friendly with members of their group.

Live a Little, Laugh a Lot

Posted by Mark on May 2, 2012 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Finals are nearing, and stress is in the air. But have no fear, Gilad Foss is here!

As a de-stresser during the last day of classes, the Davidson School Student Organization (DSSO), sponsored a Lunch and Laugh.

With stellar impressions of of Regis Philbin and hilarious jabs at the Solomon Schechter Day School curriculum, The hour long comedy show had Davidson Students and members of the JTS community rolling on the floor laughing (figuratively that is, people weren't actually rolling on the floor, although there were many temptations).

If you don't believe me in the hilarity of Gilad Foss, check it out for yourself:

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Davidson Friends bid farwell to graduate heading south...

Posted by Mark on April 26, 2012 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (0)

The student community at The Davidson School is known to be warm, caring, friendly and supportive. That doesn't end once you graduate.

Sara Beth Berman (DS '09), is leaving NYC and heading to Atlanta to assume one of the new NADIV positions supported by the Foundation for Jewish Camp. Sara Beth will be a leading Jewish experiential educator during the year at the Alfred & Adele Davis Academy, and in the summer at the Union for Reform Judaism's Camp Coleman. It is an exciting role, we know Sara Beth will do well and make Davidson proud.

Davidson students and graduates have rallied around Sara Beth, helping her pack and ensuring that her departure from NYC is filled with both excitement and sadness. The Davidson Community will continue to check-in with Sara Beth as we begin this new chapter of her career journey, as we aim to do for all of our graduates (if you are a graduate read this, check-in with us!)


Good luck Sara Beth!

Photo: Top: Mara Berde '09

Standing (left to right): Sarah Ossey '11, Emily Cook EdD, Elisheva Gould '09, Sara Beth Berman '09, Aviva Perlman '12, Josh Ackerman '11

Sitting: Rina Goldberg '09 and Melanie Schwartz '09.

The Hora, the Hora...

Posted by Mark on April 25, 2012 at 8:50 AM Comments comments (0)

What makes is the Hora Jewish? Circle dancing is a rather recent Jewish tradition inspired by Shavuot, shared Dr. Joe Reimer of Brandeis University. Dr Reimer led a Lunch and Learn on Wednesday, April 18 entitled "Who Puts the Jewish in Jewish Experiential Education?"

A nutshell version of the story:

 In the 1930s and 40s, Kibbutzim in Palestine would host dance festivals to celebrate during holidays and times of specialoccasion, including the (upcoming) holiday of Shavuot. To promote the dances, the choreographers and professional dancers would teach these "new" dances, mostly in circle form to promote togetherness, kibbutz members. During dance performances, the viewers, who came from around the Yishuv (the towns and communities before 1948 were so well versed they would join in, creating their own dance circles, and bring these dances back to their communities.

Circle dances eventually spread to the U.S. by way of Jewish summer camps. As it is still ritual today, these Israeli dances were performed as Shabbat began, turning dancing into a "Jewish" activity. The dances are simple to learn, can be enjoyed by members of any background, and are purposefully designed so they are easy to change or customize.


So why is the Hora Jewish? By Jewish experiential educators who shaped today's Jewish culture.

Facing History and Ourselves

Posted by Mark on April 18, 2012 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Yesterday, Davidson School students participated in an inspiring workshop given by Peter Nelson from the esteem educational organization Facing History and Ourselves.

Attendees gained important teaching tools and resources and how to unpack these resources in an experiential way with his/her students. We hope is the first of many lunch and learns with Peter, who invited Davidson School students to attend the Facing History spring seminar on June 24th – June 28th for only $50.

In the seminar, the organization examines the Holocaust in a variety of disciplines including history, literature and the arts. They also integrate traditional and modern Jewish texts into scope and sequence. Following this seminar, participants receive complete access to Facing History’s Educator Resources, including downloadable unit plans, lessons, and online conversations. Participants are also invited to borrow videos, dvds, and books from Facing History’s lending library. Finally, each participant is assigned a Facing History Program Associate, who is available to provide ongoing support services. This seminar is only for educators who teach in a Jewish setting.

For more information visit: