February 27, 2003
Reform Day School Leaders Unite
Some 40 people from around the country gathered to discuss education issues at the annual Progressive Association of Reform Jewish Day Schools (PARDeS) Conference at Wilshire Boulevard Temple from Feb. 22-25. This year's theme was values and ethics.
Since Reform day schools do not have a centralized curriculum like Conservative and Orthodox institutions, professional and lay leaders discussed establishing a set course load, and also discussed issues such as enrollment, curriculum, fundraising and accreditation.
The Keynote speaker at the conference was Rabbi David Ellenson, president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). Other speakers included Rabbi Steven Leder of Wilshire Boulevard Temple; Nadine Breuer, vice president of PARDeS and Brawerman Elementary School's Head of School; and Michael Zeldin, a professor at HUC-JIR.
"Jewish day schools are a tool toward Jewish continuity," said Robin Broidy, a member of the Brawerman School's Task Force Committee. "The Reform movement can't be without an arm that encourages these schools."
Shalhevet High School Wins Model U.N.
Shalhevet High School took first place in the 13th Annual Yeshiva University National Model United Nations conference, which was held Feb. 9 -11. Fourteen Shalhevet students joined more than 500 high school students from 36 schools around North America at Kutcher's Country Club in Monticello, N.Y. Competitors debated topics like disarmament and world health during a simulated meeting of the United Nations.
Shalhevet students were divided into two teams, representing China and Libya. Each competitor spoke on behalf of his or her assigned committee, which included groups like the World Food Program, Disarmament and International Security and the Middle East Summit.
The Shalhevet's team representing China won the competition, with seniors Hannah Levavi, Ilana Kellerman and Sarah Mayman each receiving awards for Best Delegate. Senior Edo Royker and junior Laura Birnbaum, both members of the Libya team, received Honorable Mention.
"Shalhevet had never won before and we've gone to the conference for years. People were convinced of jinxes and conspiracies," joked faculty adviser Melanie Berkey, who also teaches English and film classes. "It was a very pleasant surprise."
Yeshiva University High School in Los Angeles came in second place.
ADL Educates Students About Hate
What advice would you give to a child when his peers try to convince him that "Jews and other minorities" are trying to take over at school and that he should "stick with his own kind?"
High school students around California will ponder this very question when they view a new interactive CD-ROM recently published by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). "Hate Comes Home" is intended to help high school students combat anti-Semitism, racism, classism and homophobia.
The software, which is offered free of charge to all public high schools in the state, includes an interactive movie featuring four fictional high school students confronted with various issues of prejudice, peer pressure and hate. Learning tactics for avoiding hate-motivated incidents, students can make choices and change what happens in the lives of these characters. A teacher discussion guide is also included.
The CD-ROM is part of the Stop the Hate project, a three-year initiative funded by the California State Legislature. Stop the Hate intends to institutionalize ADL's A World of Difference Institute anti-bias training programs in selected school settings.
"You get to see how anti-Semitism really works at a high school level, especially in hate groups," said Tessa Hicks, project director of the A World of Difference Institute. "If you go to any high school, you'll hear slurs. They might be used in jest, but they are taking a toll."
For more information on "Hate Comes Home," call Tessa Hicks at (310) 446-8000, ext. 232.
Religious School Teachers Share Ideas
How do you school children according to their own needs? More than 600 religious school leaders at 53 schools around Greater Los Angeles considered this theme at the Religious School Educators conference on Sunday, Jan. 19 at Sinai Temple.
Educational experts and religious school principals presented workshops such as "Creative Programs to Promote Respect in the Classroom," "Hooking Young Adults on Jewish History with New Historical Fiction" and "Hebrew for the New Millennium.
Keynote speaker Rabbi Ed Feinstein of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino delivered a humorous -- but rousing -- speech on the difficulties many religious school teachers face in keeping students motivated, and the importance of answering students' questions.
Teachers were specifically encouraged to meet their teaching counterparts from synagogues in other parts of the city in special "Mentor Sharing Workshops." During this program, teachers exchanged lesson plans, projects and curriculum ideas.
"The sharing was unique to the conference this year," said Arlene Agress, Bureau of Jewish Education's director of continuing professional education. "In addition to gaining knowledge to apply to the classroom, there's a value [when teachers] come together as a community."
Later in the afternoon, the Lainer Distinguished Educator Awards were presented to Janice Tytell, the principal of University Synagogue in Los Angeles; Robin Solomon of Shomrei Torah Synagogue in West Hills; and Rachel Asseras from Temple Judea in Tarzana. Smotrich Family Foundation Educator Awards were presented to Morgan Land at Congregation Ner Tamid of South Bay, Susan Silverman, assistant director at Temple Adat Elohim's Religious School in Thousand Oaks.
Briefs compiled by Sharon Schatz Rosenthal, Education Writer.