How can Judaism be more relevant to our students today?

Unpacked for Educators, with the support of the Mayberg Foundation and David and Debra Magerman, is excited to announce a new video series, podcast series, and a complete educational curriculum called “The Power of Judaism” that invites students to make personal meaning of Judaism and their own relationship to Judaism.

Below is an abridged version of an op-ed that was originally published in eJewish Philanthropy by Noam Weissman and Sara Himeles, on our newest curriculum. Reprinted with permission.

We are surrounded, every day, by noise. There are pundits on the right, and pundits on the left. The media environment can feel exhausting, and not only that, but our identities can become exclusively defined by our political views. If we are conservative, then we think this about the world. If we are liberal, then we think this about the world.

Of course, people don’t actually say these words out loud. Instead, we all (or so many of us) fall into a trap of thinking a certain way without realizing we’ve gotten so caught up in our own political bubbles. It can be hard to think clearly about any given topic.

As Jewish educators, we believe that our students need tools to navigate this politically polarized environment. We wanted to give them a different way to think about the world — a way that is not colored in red and blue, but driven by religious thought, or in the case of the Jewish tradition, by Jewish values and Jewish thought.

Does Judaism have anything to say about our lives or about the world around us? From the widest lens, what is the purpose of Jewish education? Is it only relevant to teaching about ritual observance, Jewish law and faith? Many of us tend to think that religion is for the synagogue, mosque or church, but not for the home, workplace or grocery store.

Judaism can tell us which food is kosher and how to observe Shabbat, this line of thinking goes. But when it comes to the major disagreement we have with our neighbor, how to progress in our careers or deciding what to wear every morning? We tend to look elsewhere.

What if we chose to focus on Jewish thought and values, and how they pertain to our everyday lives? And, what happens when different Jewish values collide with one another? In an era of maximal autonomy, Jewish values can play a critical role in guiding us to make individual decisions we all confront every day.

“The Power of Judaism” video seriespodcast series, and curriculum empowers our students to do this. Inspired by the vision and teachings of the late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks zt’l, who sought to make Judaism relevant to everyone’s lives, this curriculum invites students to see how the wisdom of Judaism extends far beyond the synagogue — this wisdom and ethics can guide us in each aspect of our lives.

This curriculum weaves together ideas from Adam Grant and Angela Duckworth to Rabbi Tzadok HaKohen and Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. Think of this as TED Talks meets ancient Jewish wisdom in language that resonates with your students. 

The videos, podcasts and resources are appropriate for a range of physical settings, including schools, Hillels and campus groups, summer camps, youth programs, peer support groups, a Shabbaton, or a Jewish studies or ethics class. Each lesson has a mix of experiential/fun and more formal learning, so you can adapt them according to your environment.

Testimonials from three leading Jewish educators

“Through a breathtaking array of video, audio, and textual resources that are engaging and relevant while also substantive and thought provoking, The Power of Judaism curriculum makes a compelling case to today’s learner that the ideas and ideals of Judaism still very much matter to the world… Rabbi Jonathan Sacks urged the next generation to write their own chapter in the story of the Jewish people. The Power of Judaism curriculum provides them the tools they’ll need to do so.”

— Rabbi Gil Perl, Head of School, Jewish Leadership Academy, Miami

“Now more than ever, Jewish educators…are in need of digital curricula that explore Jewish values, issues, and texts in ways that captivate their students. The incredible team at Unpacked for Educators has created a panoply of lessons with trigger films, podcasts, learning activities, reflection questions and more… This is a tremendous resource for educators who know the power of learning that encourages…personal meaning-making that fosters a love of Jewish ideas, Jewish values, and Jewish life.”

— Dr. Marc Kramer, Founder, Kramer Education Group, New York City

“What an extraordinarily curated project…An altogether impressive approach to timely topics, relevant concerns, useful information, in a format that is both user-friendly and sophisticated at the same time. Quite an accomplishment — but more important, quite a resource and a welcome contribution to the ‘Jewish studies matters and speaks to us’ movement.”

— Dr. Zipora Schorr, Director of Education, Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, Baltimore

Ready to bring the power of Judaism to your classroom? View the videos, podcasts and educational guides.

Read the full-op-ed at eJewish Philanthropy.

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