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You've Got To Risk It To Get The (Southern Jewish) Biscuit
By Rachel Fraade, Lawrence Magdovitz ISJL Education Fellow
As educators, we constantly ask our students to take risks. We ask them to trust us and step outside their comfort zones for the sake of learning. Being a good student requires hard work, but it also requires a willingness to expose oneself to new ideas.
Most of the time, we are the teacher. At the ISJL Education Conference, we ask you to put yourself in students’ shoes. As participants, we can all learn from experts in Jewish education and community when we attend tracks and study halls. That’s not all, though—we can also learn from each other. ISJL education partners hail from large and small congregations all across the South. Each community has different experiences, needs, and knowledge. This diversity makes the ISJL Education Conference an ideal place to take on the roles of our students—risk takers, outside-the-box learners, and question askers.
Many of us have stories about the new ideas that changed our worldview. Whether these ideas came in early childhood, college, or beyond, chances are they required us to take a risk. Without them, we would not be the people we are today. Growth and education is a lifelong project. Just as we encourage adult learning in congregations, we believe that teachers do their best work when they open up to new concepts and strategies.
As the Education Conference approaches next month, we encourage you to ask yourself, “how can I take risks in my education?” Attend a track or wildcard session that is entirely out of your area of expertise. If you usually attend the Tuesday morning min’yan aimed at early childhood educators, try out the one that models prayer for teens. Strike up a discussion with a stranger at a meal, which shouldn’t be hard because we assign tables so you can meet new people!
As educators, we must strive to model the behavior that we ask of our students. It may be difficult to do so in our home communities, where we are familiar with the typical structure of lessons. For this reason, the ISJL Education Conference aims to provide all partners with opportunities to learn, experience, and grow.
So when it comes time to pick your tracks and conversation partners, remember to do what we ask our students to do every day—take a risk.
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