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A new Jewish adult education program
3/8/2012 9:46:00 AM
I am a fervent believer in continuing Jewish education. Just like professionals must fine-tune our skills with constantly reading and studying our subject matter so that we stay fresh and engaged, so too must we continue to be learners of Judaism.
So I was interested when I received an email from Rabbi Tamara Miller about a new class she was offering to adult learners at Adas Israel. Called Ayeka, it was developed by Rabbi Aryeh Ben David. While speaking with her, I came to understand that so much of this course (like most good classes) is about the teacher, so to help you get a true feel for the class, I am presenting this information to you in our interview form.
Why Ayeka? What about the curriculum spoke to you?
I've been teaching Judaism for decades now and I've also been a learner for decades. In all our education, we've never connected the sources to our everyday lives. Spirituality is about connecting to our inner being and our friends and our community and as a way to connect with God--it's all the same. We learn but we're emotionally detached from learning. We need to ask "How are these sources, how is this Jewish learning touching our lives?" Rabbi Ben David says, "it's not about information, it's about transformation"
With Passover coming up, I'm inspired to ask: "How is this class different from all other classes?"
The framework of the class is different. The mission is different. It reaches Jews of all backgrounds and affiliations. It's for all of us who want to have a richer Jewish experience.
The session is broken up into different segments. There is a segment about modeling-the teachers modeling what they have learned. The students to get into spiritual
groups-whether 2 or 4, the way they study in a yeshiva. This way, it's not just about the teacher but also about the class working with the information they already have-the intelligence, the learning, the personalities they already have.
connects the teacher to the students and the students to each other.
Assignments are given through email and the students pair up via email or phone and continue to work together during the week. This way they can have an ongoing conversation about what resonated in the class.
There's also a piece I call experiential-we might use a writing exercise or an art project (scupture), so it's not just in the mind-it comes out of them creatively.
What kind of learner should take
Someone who is an open space, who wants to wrestle with some ideas from the past but hasn't had a space to talk about these ides. Our usual mode of teaching in schools and even in adult learning is focused in text-but we are also the text. This is for someone who wants to connect with the Jewish sources. We each of us have a story-the text of our hearts that we need to get into-what do we do with the insights we get from Torah?
I come across people who say they didn't have a good Jewish background. People who tell me they aren't finding spirituality in their Judaism. We've left out spirituality in our teaching.
is about finding that spirituality.
We'll create a safe space.
It's grounded also-it's not just theoretical-you will learn what the sources say about "what is the soul" for example. We're going to go back to Heshel to Rav Kook. But we may also look at Parker Palmer, who is a Quaker educator. Or a Christian theologian. We've missed that piece.
Here are some questions I might ask in class:
What about my life would be different if I were more open to listening to my inner voice?
Imagine you are Moses at the burning bush...what would that experience be like for you?
How would this material help you have a better relationship with your spouse or your children?
Why did you decide to bring
I went through the program myself and I was amazed. I was with strangers, but I learned things about how I look at myself.
It's the young people who are more open to this. Rabbi Aryeh talks about teaching in the yeshiva for years and never talking about God. I think we try to bring in what people want-they are meditating, they want to learn what Kabbalah is about-they don't have access to it. This does that-education with a spiritual approach.
They can access it-everything is translated. Those people who know Hebrew-they can still use it, but for those who don't there will be
is the first question God asks-in Bibilical Hebrew it means "where are you?" When God asked
to Adam, what did Adam do? He hid. He hid from himself. God wanted to know where he was with himself.
means where are you? Where are you going? What is the meaning to your life?
Instead of hiding from it,
is the process of learning where you are.
Ayeka: Soulful Jewish Education
Ayeka is the first question in the Torah: In the Garden of Eden, when God asks Adam - "Where are you?" - Adam is hiding. This is an eternal paradigm. We all hide, at times, in different ways.
The goal of this new approach, called Ayeka, is to create a venue in which we can stop hiding in order to explore our personal relationship with God, and to see how this relationship can impact our lives. It is possible to imbue our relationships, our work, and our entire lives with a sense of living in the Image of God.
Join Ayeka as we explore what traditional Jewish texts and our own personal experience can teach us about our relationship with God and how we can use this relationship to enhance our lives and to bring out the best in ourselves and in all our personal relationships.
The four-class series, Ayeka begins on March 14th and is limited to 12 students. Cost is $30/session. It will take place at Adas Israel from 7:15-8:30pm.
To pre-register, go to http://www.adasisrael.org/lifelonglearning
Go to http://www.ayeka.org.il to learn more
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