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The Weber School In the spring of 2008, I announced to my students at The Weber School that I was taking a sabbatical to complete the manuscript of Found in Translation: Common Words of Uncommon Wisdom and to be more available to my family. I planned to spend a year replenishing my spirit and reorienting my rabbinate to focus on adult education...

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American Guild of Judaic Art New Vision. New Website. New Year. This new “virtual” home for the Guild was created by dedicated  members from all over the country with different talents and skills, who worked diligently to make the site easy to use, informative and—most importantly—the best venue to display AGJA members’ art.  I stand...

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Neshama Interfaith Center Marian Monahan, a founder of the Neshama Interfaith Center, speaks in the voice of a prophet. She preached these words on Mother's Day at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Atlanta, and has graciously allowed me to share them here: Those of you who know me are aware that I'm quite involved in the interfaith...

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Encountering Angels: Reading Genesis with my Children In this book, my children and I blend traditional Jewish learning and personal experience in our commentary on Genesis, making it unlike any other book written about the biblical text and rabbinic literature related to Genesis.  Like most books of biblical commentary written by rabbis, it examines the text through the...

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Pamela Jay Gottfried is a rabbi, parent, teacher, artist and author. An inveterate Scrabble player and New York Times Crossword Puzzle fanatic, she credits her love of words to her parents, who encouraged her to develop her vocabulary through reading and using the dictionary at an early age. Since her ordination from...

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Seek Justice & Pursue Peace

rwb_logo196I’m at the Rabbis Without Borders blog this week, sharing some reflections about a memorial service I attended on the 100th anniversary of Leo Frank’s murder. I was inspired to raise my voice not only in prayer but also in petitioning Georgia officials to exonerate Leo Frank.

Seeking Justice for Leo Frank: The sanctuary of Temple Kol Emeth is completely filled. Judges, lawyers and rabbis who will address the crowd sit on the bima, ready to be introduced. Next to the choir, there are rows of seats… Read more →

leo frank petition

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Orion’s Belt

4

5:30 a.m. 

I hear the beating of a timba drum in my head. I force my eyes to focus on the small screen’s glow.  It takes a full minute for awareness to dawn: today is the first day of school.

5:45 a.m.

Luna pulls me down the driveway, from under the water oak’s giant canopy and across the street. I look up at the dark, cloudless sky, amazed that last night’s storms have subsided, ceding to morning’s clarity.

Hello, Orion, I whisper to hunter above my head.

orion's belt

6:00 a.m. 

Exiting the school yard and heading out the main road, I wonder if the street lamps will dim the shine of the celestial lights. Orion’s belt is fading from view.

Eyes on the sidewalk, defying the dog’s need to stop and sniff the grass along the curb, I urge her to pick up the pace. We jog across the strip mall parking lot; it’s mostly empty at this hour. As we pass the gas station and the hill edges upward, I’m inclined to break into a full run, to burst forth like daylight, which is just around the next corner. Only Luna senses danger; she smells the neighbor’s dog approaching from behind the trees. I coax her, with gentle murmurings, to wait until they pass.

6:15 a.m.

One left turn, and we are close to home, where I will shed my sneakers and exchange Luna’s leash for car keys. Entering the neighborhood, I look up to catch a last glimpse of the night sky. I can still see his three stars winking back at me. Daylight is just around the corner.

In a few moments we’ll be home and the memory of Orion’s belt will fade completely. I squeeze my eyes shut, trying to conserve the energy unleashed by walking through twilight, wishing I could somehow pour it into my commuter mug, imagining I could drink it all afternoon.

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4

 

After the Flood

I’ve looked EVERYWHERE, and I just can’t find it.

That file—the one marked UbD—must be in here somewhere.

I started searching last night, after receiving handouts in a professional development workshop that reminded me of that file. I remember stuffing it with templates from another workshop.

For five glorious days in 2001, I attended the Understanding by Design workshop with Harriet, my partner in curriculum design. We worked 6-8 hours each day, drafting a K-5 holidays curriculum. In the evenings, we explored Seattle on foot.

I remember returning home, my heavy suitcase loaded with workbooks and nearly a ream of paper.  I remember taking the folder from my file cabinet, packing it in a cardboard box.

Suddenly, I remember the flood. The memory lands like a sucker punch.

Less than an inch of water covered the basement floor, but we didn’t discover the problem until the damage was done. This happened many years later. In the time between the cloud, heavy with rain, and the cloud in which I learned to store all my data.

My determination to find the UbD file quickly turned to despair. I realize it was lost in the flood. Before the flood, I was the kind of teacher who saved every scrap of paper. After the flood, after lugging waterlogged boxes to the dumpster, I learned to cultivate an appreciation of the process while letting go of the product.

The words of Kohelet comfort me; I repeat them aloud. Everything has its season: “A time to seek and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to cast away.” (Ecclesiastes 3:6)

 

ubd redux image

While I couldn’t remember the loss of the file until the search for it failed, I can remember its contents. This file held an accumulated understanding of the process of curriculum design.

That wisdom, once acquired, is never lost. Each time I begin to recreate the curriculum design process, my mind opens anew, seeking the knowledge safely stored there and casting away doubts that prevent me from finding my potential.

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