Jewish Education at The Davidson School

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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:

Divrei Torah is an Art

Posted by Mark on April 17, 2012 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

"You have 30 seconds to capture your audience."

If Rabbi David Hoffman could say one thing about creating an excellent D'var Torah, that would be the message.

Rabbi Hoffman was the guest speaker at Monday's DSSO (Davidson School Student Organization) sponsored Lunch and Learn, The Art of Crafting a D'var Torah.


In what was an appropriately invigorating discussion about what makes a D'var Torah excellent, Rabbi Hoffman offered the following advice (in addition to the opening line).

-Put the most effort into the beginning.


-Do not prove you're smart. Pick one or two sources that you have thought really hard about, not a gazillion quotes that you can rattle off.


-Speak from the Heart.

Please enjoy this video (in two parts), a Senior Sermon given by Rabbi Michael Fel, a graduate of JTS. Many participants at the Lunch and Learn were in agreement that it was one of the best Divrei Torah any of us have seen.


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Happy Pesach

Posted by Mark on April 6, 2012 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Happy Pesach from the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education! Enjoy the video below! Blog posts will resume after our holiday of matzah and maror is complete! Chag Samech!

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DSSO is No Bully

Posted by Mark on April 6, 2012 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)

On Sunday, April 1, The Davidson School Student Organization attended a private screening of Bully, hosted by BBYO.

According to DSSO President, Alana Tilman, "I was really glad I had the chance to see it. Many parts of the movie were very unsettling. Bully focused on how entire lives were effected. Not just the students in schools, but families and friends are greatly impacted when someone is bullied."

There are 13 million kids who are bullied in the U.S. every year. As educators, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves about bullying and how to bring an end to this harmful behavior.

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The New American Haggadah

Posted by Mark on March 30, 2012 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Presenting his just published, The New American Haggadah, Jonathan Safran Foer made an exclusive appearance at JTS that not only filled the Feinberg Auditorium, but also required a webcast due to the overwhelming attendance. I could try to explain the presentation to you, or you could watch it here.  (Watch it.  You won't know what you're missing if you don't).

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Student Spotlight: Aviva Perlman

Posted by Mark on March 27, 2012 at 10:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Aviva Perlman is a 3rd year Davidson student in the Informal/Communal Education (ICE) Track. Hailing from Princeton Junction, NJ, Aviva has spent multiple years working for Hillel's Schusterman International Center. I sat down with Aviva and asked her about her Davidson experience.

Dan Cohen: What made you want to go to Davidson?


Aviva Perlman: As a kid, my synagogue Rabbi was always talking about JTS during our confirmation classes. In 2007, I was staffing a Birthright trip. As we reached Jerusalem and recited Shehechayanu for the 2nd time on the trip, I got into an explanation as to why we were reciting this blessing for a second time. For me, this was a very powerful. I realized I wanted to be doing this for the rest of my life.

DC: You took a break from Davidson to study at Pardes in Israel. Tell me about this.

AP: I always wanted to spend a long time in Israel, being that Davidson had not yet introduced a semester-long program in Israel. It seemed like a great time to go. Many of my friends at Pardes spent much of their time in Israel worrying about what they were going to do after Pardes. I was able to make the most out of my time there because I knew I was coming back to Davidson.

As much as I loved my time at Pardes, I came back to finish because JTS and Davidson have an excellent reputation in the Jewish professional world. Israel was a refreshing experience, but the degree from Davidson is my ticket to a successful career.

DC: When you first arrived to Davidson, what were you expecting to get out of it?

AP: I came in with an unguided passion for Judaism. I wanted to learn teaching skills, pedagogy, and how to pass Judaism on to others. I wanted to become a role model for young people like the role models I had growing up.

DC: What did you get from Davidson that you weren't expecting?

AP: I didn't really notice how much I was learning at Davidson until I went to camp after my second year. I began using all of my gained knowledge that I didn't know I had. I realized how much I was learning and became very satisfied with my education.

DC: If you could give one piece of advice to prospective Davidson students, what would it be?

AP: If there's something you want to do, something you want to get out of your education, make it happen.