Making it all about the learning.

Last week I was able to spend a week learning from the wonderful people at the Jewish Women's Archive as they were teaching us how to use this online archive in our schools, especially the Living the Legacy curriculum.  The curriculum teaches about the role of Jewish women in the civil rights movement and by extention other Jewish participation in this amazing event that changed the world we live in it.  One statistic that struck me is that some estimates suggest nearly half the white women who went South to work for civil rights from the north had Jewish heritage as part of their family history.  These were mostly women of privledge who saw the injustice and wanted to change it.  This story is important and visiting the archive website and learning about these extraordinary women would be well worth you time. 

But what was interesting was I was the only man in a group of 25 Jewish educators from around the country and Canada.  While this was not an unusual position for me to have been in in my career.  I knew a couple of the people before I came, recognized a few more from other conferences, and many were complete strangers.  What was amazing was how quickly we became a community.  As an obvious outsider it would have been easy to be held responsible for the sexism of the past and in many cases the present.  (I did occassionally cringe when some spoke of their helpless husbands suffering back home).  But we represented what truly illustrates the theme of my multicultural workshop "The Diversity of a Dozen Eggs".  We were born Jews and Jews by Choice, Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Reform, and Secular Humanist, we were Rabbis, lay synagogue professionals, lawyers, writers, and many professions I can't remember, we were Jews who kept kosher and some who loved bacon, we were Jews who love services and Jews who never attend, we were Jews who feel God in every tiny detail of the world, and those who are comfortable in their doubt of God's existence.  But we were all there for one thing.  We were all there to become better educators and we wanted to bring voice to the voiceless of history.  What turned out is that we all learned from each other, we all shared with each other, we all felt connected to each other.  So often the walls that separate us make it hard for us to access all we can be.  If anything was accomplished this week was to show me that when I think of my experiences for the week, I will always remember that teachers who think outside the box to instill the wonders of Judaism to the next generation. I will remember how we worked together to find ways to modify the curriculum for our particular setting.  I will remember the discussions of sustainable food and traffic on 128.  I won't remember where these women daven, or how they say the blessings, or if full kriah is important to them.  And that will always make me smile.  We came together in diversity and left in unity without compromising that diversity.  Hazah to all the women I learned from and to Etta, Judith and the entire staff of JWA.  Thank you for making my summer learning useful and reenergizing. 


lottie said…
Wonderful blog, George! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful articulation of our shared experience.
yaakov said…
Thank you for your kind words

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