Jewish Education at The Davidson School

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Student Spotlight - Ben Rotenberg

Posted by Danny on January 29, 2013 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

This week we continue our series of Davidson Student Spotlights by asking Ben Rotenberg, first year student in the Day School program, a few questions about himself.


What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge Jewish educators face today?


I think it is the problem of relevance and access. We must bring the wonders of Jewish life to every student. Jewish educators need to understand how to support the needs of every learner through special education. We also need to refresh how we understand both the people and state of Israel.


What was the highlight of your experience on Visions and Voices?


I think it was meeting Lydia Aisenberg at Givat Chaviva and visiting the town of Bartha'A. I was struck by the idea that Israelis and Israeli Arabs are building long-standing relationships. I realized that Israel is an evolving story of people's daily lives; it is not just about politics or religious identity.

 How did you find your way to Davidson? Why do you want to be a Jewish educator?

I grew up attending an incredible day school in Providence, RI: Alperin Shechter Day School. After I finished undergrad work at Hebrew College I looked for the best place to gain skills in teaching and in Judaic studies. Davidson was recommended by family and friends who are familiar with the program and the amazing faculty. I am inspired to integrate methods of experiential education with talmud torah.


What are your main interests within Jewish Education?


I am interested in building new classroom techniques for opening up classical Jewish texts and integrating special education methods with chevruta learning.


Student Spotlight - Lisa Aremband

Posted by Danny on November 19, 2012 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Lisa Aremband is a 2nd-year student in the Day School concentration. We were curious what inspires her, what brought her to Davidson, and what she's learning. So, we asked her! Find her responses below.


Why are you passionate about Jewish education?


I have always loved teaching, and I have always loved being Jewish. Being a Jewish educator allows me to combine my two passions and convey my love of Judaism to my students in a better way than I was taught. I am passionate about integrating Jewish content into secular subjects, and vice versa; students should feel and act and think Jewish all the time, not just when they’re in their Parsha or Hebrew class.


Why did you choose the Davidson School?


I chose the Davidson School because of the high standard of study of both Judaic subjects and subjects in education, as well as the school's ability to blend together education and Judaics within the courses. I feel that the courses I take here will prepare me for all the facets of being a Day School teacher- from the social and emotional development of my students to integrating Jewish content into other subjects to leading lessons and conversations about prayer and theology.


What is your practicum this year and what are you learning from it?


For my practicum, I am student teaching at Beit Rabban Day School, which is a progressive community day school for preschool through 5th grade on the Upper West Side. I am teaching in Shorashim, which is the first grade classroom. Beit Rabban focuses on teaching Judaism through its texts, and I am learning a ton about how to implement this philosophy with young children! I am also learning to notice and reflect upon school culture and how that affects the daily life of the students inside and outside the classroom.

P.S. Lisa will be facilitating an ארוחת ערב עברית - a Hebrew Dinner - open to all JTS students and faculty, on December 6. Come enjoy tasty Israeli food while you practice speaking Hebrew. Then stay for Israeli dancing! More information TBA. Check soon for details.

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 - Saul Zebovitz

Posted by Danny on September 19, 2012 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Second-year Davidson students have begun their practicums at day schools and Jewish non-profits around the city. Day School Concentration student Saul Zebovitz shares about his placement at Solomon Schechter Manhattan.


What is your role within the organization / who and what are you teaching? Who is your mentor?

I'm working in a fourth grade classroom in a student teacher role, under mentor (and fourth-grade teacher) Elisa Marcus.


What do you feel is the greatest challenge you face as a Jewish educator?

Fitting my entire lesson into the short periods of time I have, and finding time to teach all of the things that I want to and need to teach.

What skills do you most hope to gain from your work at this practicum this year?

I want to become more skilled at managing a large class of students, at planning interactive and creative lessons, and directing classroom discussion.


Please share a meaningful experience you've had at the practicum.

During my first week, I was able to turn a friendly conflict between two groups of students into a very rich lesson/simulation on the U.S. election. It ended up unexpectedly opening some pre-existent social fault lines in the class that turned into a not-so-friendly conflict between two different groups, but I still think that a lot of students learned a lot. One student in particular was able to explore his own interest in politics and history in a way that he's previously been unable to.

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 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.. 

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.