Wednesday, November 10, 2010

History - How the Story is Told

Recalling History on a Day of Light and Darkness - An article appeared in today's NY Times that explores the tension inherent in deciding what to commemorate, and who does the remembering.  It refers specifically to the fact that Kristallnacht occurred on the same date as the fall of the Berlin Wall many years later.  Both happened in Germany, both are commemorated by the people of Germany, both are significant events for Germany and her people.
When preparing to celebrate my own mother's 100th birthday several years ago, I came upon a number of sites on the internet that enumerate the events that happened on every day of the calendar year.  It was amazing how many things had happened over the years on her exact birthday - how few of them I knew about - and how even fewer did I realize shared the date of her birth.  What does that mean for how we learn, teach and understand history?

Ideas to think about:

  • We are more likely to remember that which has personal meaning for us
  • Time often diminishes memory
  • Some things seem to be remembered no matter how long ago they occurred
  • Every individual and every group chooses its memories according to their own criteria
  • Events that are publicly commemorated tend to be remembered longer than those which are not
Questions to think about:
  • Which events in Jewish history do we as a Jewish community commemorate publicly?
  • Which events in Jewish history do non-Jews know about?  Why? 
  • How do we choose which events to remember publicly?  Why?
  • In your opinion, what events in Jewish history should be commemorated forever?  Why?
  • In your opinion, which events in Jewish history will be commemorated forever?  Why?
  • Which historical big ideas do you want your students to remember?  Why?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Jewish Wisdom for Today's Reality

I really like this first issue of Shabbat Table Discussions from Yeshiva University's Center for the Jewish Future.  I came upon it at  Tzvee's Talmudic Blog which I follow and enjoy.  I recommend you read it and hope you enjoy it as well.


Last year I asked some questions in the blogpost - didn't get any answers!!!  I still have the same questions, and I'm hoping some readers might suggest some responses!
I thank you in advance for your thoughts.
I checked the links and they're still valid.

In case you are interested in more resources, here are a few new links:
G-dcast is a wonderful site to find short cartoons illustrating each parasha.  This one focuses primarily on the relationship between Rachel and Leah, and the importance of children in Biblical times.

  • A question - why do you suppose there is a daughter mentioned at all?  Until now only sons have been mentioned, although the law of averages would certainly suggest that our ancestors had female children as well as male, and I just wonder what the significance of the daughter is that causes her to be named here.
If you are interested in what the community of Beit El is like today, click on this link to the site of the winery there.
  • What do you think it feels like to read this week's parasha in Beit El?