Julie Wiener

The Making Of First-Time Campers

Jewish foundation’s Specialty Camp Incubator churns out five new offerings, and enrollment is booming.

06/22/2010
Associate Editor

Rachel Tore was “the mom who said [her] son would never go to sleep-away camp.”

Because 10-year-old Abraham has a metabolic condition that requires a healthful, organic diet, Tore worried that at a typical camp he’d be tempted by junk food like hot dogs and sugar cereal.

High school interns at a program at Eden Village Camp, one of five new Jewish camps opening this summer.

Sara Berman, 35

Hebrew charter school pioneer

Associate Editor
06/15/2010

A quick glance at some of Sara Berman’s vital stats and you could be forgiven for assuming she’s Orthodox. Married at age 20, she is the mother of six children ranging in age from 8 months to 12 years — and the school-age kids attend Ramaz, the venerable East Side centrist Orthodox day school.

Sara Berman

In the Mix: An Orthodox Rabbi Takes A Humanist Turn

06/15/2010
Associate Editor

Google the words interfaith, wedding and rabbi together and you get a whopping 1.1 million hits.

Perched atop this list (most are about the issues, rather than sites actually offering rabbis who do interfaith weddings) you will find Rabbi David S. Gruber, an Orthodox-ordained rabbi who has performed 60 weddings since he started doing interfaith ceremonies two years ago.

You’ll Appreciate It Later

06/08/2010

In “A New Act For The Old Bar Mitzvah” (June 4), Julie Wiener articulates how the traditional bar mitzvah ceremony has evolved into a dynamic new-age ceremony replete with actors, music, family and communal participation.

While traditions and personal sentiment certainly differ regarding the significance of a bar mitzvah ceremony, most would agree that any basic definition of a “bar mitzvah” would include one’s coming of age, whereby a “boy” morphs into a “man.”

A New Act For The Old Bar Mitzvah

Storahtelling’s Amichai Lau-Lavie is out to revolutionize the
ceremony in emerging partnership with families, synagogues.

06/02/2010
Associate Editor

Arguably one of the most memorable scenes in last year’s Oscar-nominated “A Serious Man” is the bar mitzvah, when Danny Gopnik does his Torah and Haftorah portions while visibly stoned, having smoked prodigious amounts of pot in the Hebrew school bathroom. 

So accustomed are they to tuning out the foreign chanting from the bima that his parents and the other congregants in the soulless 1960s Midwestern temple don’t even seem to notice anything amiss.

Storahtelling ceremonies aim to be creative and engaging, with humor, music, drama and costumes. Photo by Lisa Kimmell

For Hebrew Learning, The Skype’s The Limit

Internet tutoring is on leading edge of use of technology beyond the classroom.

05/26/2010
Associate Editor

Walk around Temple Micah when religious school is in session, and you will see children praying, having discussions and working on art projects. 

What you won’t find are alef-bet drill sessions, or language instruction of any kind.

While Hebrew is on the curriculum at this 485-family Reform congregation in Washington, D.C., students now do all their Hebrew learning from home, through private tutoring sessions conducted via the Internet videoconferencing service Skype. 

A student at Washington, D.C.’s Temple Micah learns Hebrew with her online tutor. Courtesy of Temple Micah

Yale Researchers Tout Jewish Nursery Program

05/04/2010

An effort to transform Jewish early childhood education has gotten a stamp of approval of sorts from the Yale Child Study Center.

The Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative, which helps Jewish nursery schools strengthen their Judaic content and better engage parents while embracing the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy, was highlighted in a study by Yale professors J. P. Comer and Michael Ben-Avie. The results have been published in the latest issue of the Early Childhood Education Journal.

Michael Steinhardt: His funding for early education seen paying off.

In the Mix: Religion And A House Divided

04/28/2010
Associate Editor

My parents’ divorce, a month before I entered first grade, was undoubtedly the great trauma of my life.
 
I say this not to make them feel guilty or even to argue against divorce; had they stayed together, their unhappy marriage would likely have caused just as much, if not more, misery for all involved.

Newest Brew Offers Ethical Buzz

04/27/2010

Saving the world is something people usually leave for after the day’s first, if not second, cup of coffee.
 
Nonetheless, the American Jewish World Service is urging the Jewish community to start focusing on social justice even before the caffeine buzz takes hold.
 

AJWS partnering with fair-trade coffee company.

Jewish Music That Doesn’t Kid Around

With her ‘Shir Fun’ classes and albums, singer Dafna Israel-Kotok
is at the forefront of a new type of Jewish children’s edu-tainment.

04/13/2010
Associate Editor

On a Wednesday morning shortly before Passover, in a sunny room overlooking the Henry Hudson Parkway, Dafna Israel-Kotok is in her element.

Joyously shaking her long, straight black hair as she plays guitar and sings for about 10 small children and their moms, the 30-something Sabra musician freely alternates between English and her native Hebrew.

Dafna Israel-Kotok: Kids music “you can grow with.” Photo courtesy of Shir Fun
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