Tag Archives: Education Fellows

The Adventures of Matzah Mama

Matzah Mama

Sam Kahan, left, debuts her Jewish Superhero, Matzah Mama, at the 2012 ISJL Education Conference.

By ISJL Education Fellow, Sam Kahan

During the annual ISJL Education Conference, Education Fellows traditionally present some sort of “schtick” during meals. This year the Fellows pondered the question: “if you were a Jewish superhero, who would you be?”

As the daughter of an excellent Jewish mother, I know that feeding those you love is both a Jewish value and, at times, a superhuman accomplishment. Having inherited my mother’s drive for preparing and sharing meals, I had to incorporate food into my wished-for superpower.

So, in front of a room of Jewish educators from around the South, Matzah Mama made her debut:

My passion for feeding others manifests itself in many ways. For one, I love to cook for friends when they stop by my house. It is in my blood, or so my mother tells me. But my desire to share sustenance with others is not limited to friends and family, rather, it extends to the community at large.

A few years ago, a friend and I were involved with an organization that set up a temporary food pantry on the corner of a busy Baltimore intersection during Thanksgiving. There we were: armed with hundreds of thanksgiving meals, donated clothing, blankets and other items essential for surviving a brutally cold winter on the Baltimore streets. As I served a tremendous number of homeless people who stopped by to receive aid, I found myself thinking. I thought of what a mitzvah it was that this group of people took time out of their Thanksgiving, a day reserved for family and friends, to make sure that the larger community was taken care of.

I reflect back on this moment and recognize the teachings of Judaism that not only encourage, but command us to care for those who are hungry. The aspiration to feed friends, family, and community echoes Jewish values and is a Jewish superpower we should all work to develop. Matzah Mama will make her next appearance at Rodef Sholom Temple in Hampton, Virginia, during a Passover program about creating family traditions, be sure to watch out for her!

If you were a Jewish superhero, who would you be?

Posted on February 11, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

From Georgia to Jerusalem in 6 Easy Steps: Sending Prayers to the Western Wall

An envelope of prayers from 5th grade students in Columbus, Georgia.

An envelope of prayers from 5th grade students in Columbus, Georgia.

By ISJL Education Fellow Dan Ring

The ISJL Education Curriculum addresses Israel in many ways at various grade levels. The fifth grade, for example, contains a lesson about the Western Wall (also called the Kotel) in Jerusalem. For an activity, teachers can have students write prayers to be placed in the Wall and ask their Education Fellows to arrange for the letters to reach their intended destination.

Although you can easily do this virtually through different websites, I was excited when the fifth grade class at Temple Israel Religious School in Columbus, Georgia, wrote physical letters, which I was able to have delivered through face-to-face social networks.

Here is how it went down:

1. During Lesson 7 of the 5th grade curriculum, students in Columbus composed their own prayers and put them all in an envelope.

2.  During my fall visit, the class surprised me with the collected notes.

Dan is very surprised.

Dan is very surprised.

Dan with TIRS 5th grade class-edit

After recovering from his surprise, Dan poses with the class. It was “pajama day” at the religious school.

3. Two weeks later, I attended a bar mitzvah in Baltimore, my hometown.  My friend Josh, a Yeshiva student in Jerusalem and the brother of the bar mitzvah boy, was visiting for the occasion.  So I gave him the envelope.

Josh (center) and Dan (right) celebrating together at the bar mitzvah.

Josh (center) and Dan (right) celebrating together at the bar mitzvah.

5. A few days later, Josh returned to Jerusalem, where he took the written prayers to the Wall.

Josh at the Western Wall.

Josh at the Western Wall.

Josh inserts the prayers into a crevice in the Wall.

Josh inserts the prayers into a crevice in the Wall.

6.  The prayers have been delivered (to the Wall).

The notes from Columbus, Georgia, join other prayers brought to the Western Wall.

The notes from Columbus, Georgia, join other prayers brought to the Western Wall.

Thanks again to Josh for helping out the fine students of Temple Israel, and to another Josh for taking such great photographs!

Posted on January 28, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

At Home on the Road

By 2nd year Education Fellow Rachel Blume.

It’s the height of the fall season. Football is in full swing, Barack Obama was just re-elected as President of the United States, people are starting to make preparations for Thanksgiving, and, as an ISJL Education Fellow, my schedule is filled to the max with fall community visits!

Rachel Blume relaxes at the home of Helaine and Bill Braunig with their grandson Billy.

This means early morning airport trips, late night drives, and not much time spent in the comfort of my own home. As a creature of habit, the hectic travel of fall can be stressful to me.  In addition to that, it’s the longest stretch of the year between visits home to my family.  (Being from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, I have it easier than most of my co-fellows on this count). One of the wonderful things about this job, though, is that certain congregations provide that same sense of comfort and community that I get with friends and family, which more than compensates for the time on the road.  In particular, Shreveport, Louisiana has become my home away from home.

Just a couple of weekends ago, I was packing my bags to make the short (at least by ISJL standards) 3 and ½ hour drive over to Shreveport. Even though I knew I had a full weekend of leading services and programs, each mile that I drove it felt less and less like a business trip and more like a trip to visit my “other family.” I don’t even need my GPS to find Helaine and Bill Braunig’s home because I now know it so well; sometimes I even get the chance to hang out with their adorable grandson Billy (see above). I don’t have to worry about getting a tour of anything, because I already know where everything is. When I go to Shreveport, the usual anxieties of a work trip melt away. I feel at home.

Posted on November 7, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

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