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Your Survival Guide for the ISJL Education Conference
By ISJL Education Fellow Sierra Debrow
At an Education Conference filled with captivating sessions, various vendors, and Jewish Educators from around the Southern United States, ten Education Fellows and our Director of Education (Rabbi Matt Dreffin) try to do the impossible: create a guide that will help you survive (and thrive!) at the ISJL’s Education Conference. Whether this is your first time coming to Conference or your tenth, have no fear. The Education Team, along with some conference veterans, are here to provide you with the information you need to make sure that you get the most out of this year’s event.
Preparation is Key
As with many things in life, the more you prepare for Conference, the better your experience will be. Make sure to bring the following items:
If your schedule allows for it, consider coming to Jackson the day before the conference. Doing so allows you time to settle in to your hotel room and organize yourself before the conference begins. Take note of any time differences from your home time zone—Jackson is in Central Standard Time! Arriving a day early also gives you time to get to know the hotel’s layout. Note that the elevators may run a bit slowly and factor this into your plans.
Late Night Fun
After a long day of learning, the comfortable bed in your hotel room may start calling your name. However, instead of going upstairs and hitting the hay, it may be worth it to stay up and join in on some late night fun. On Sunday night, test your knowledge of the American Jewish South and join the History Department and the Heritage and Interpretation Department for Trivia Night. Competitive spirits are welcome – and who knows? You might even win some awesome prizes! Monday night of Conference officially ends with evening entertainment provided by the Community Programing Department. Many people continue their conversations and get to know each other at the Hilton’s bar, though. So head on over and strike up a conversation with someone new!
Taking Risks That Pay Off
One of my favorite parts of our conference is that you choose the sessions that you want to attend. If you want to freshen up your knowledge of the ISJL curriculum basics, you can attend a Fellow-led Study Hall. If a Wild Card session about creating a welcoming and inclusive environment piques your interest, go for it! If you want to experience a tot Shabbat that combines children’s literature, dinosaurs, and the basics of the Amidah—you may have the opportunity to do so. The Education Team works to create and curate dynamic sessions so that every participant can take away something that works best for their congregation. If you are on the fence about attending one session over another, go to the one you have the most questions about. And when you attend that session? Ask your questions! We want you to leave the ISJL Education Conference feeling like you learned something you might not learn anywhere else.