Pedagogy

“חנוך לנער על פי דרכו” “Teach each child according to their way.”

Proverbs 22:6

New York kids have crazy schedules. They are balancing intense pressures from school, extra curricular activities and the constant movement of life in the City. After a full day at school their brains will only absorb things that enter through a “different door”.

Each child is unique. Each one learns differently, thinks differently and is interested in different things. Therefore each class is adapted to the particular needs and interests of the child or children. If a student is big on sports, some of the learning happens through a series of sports games Misha has created that actually teach the curriculum; Hebrew Soccer, Hebrew Basketball, Jewish Ping Pong, History Hand Ball and more (all playable in the home!). If a student is interested in music, many of the concepts are studied through song. The prayer “Mi Khamokha”, for example, can be used as a spring board to learn not only about the moment the Jews reached freedom from the Egyptians, but also as an expression of gratitude and faith. The many different melodies of the prayer can be used to teach the history of our people, and the cultures the Jews experienced in their wanderings around the globe.

Recently a Bat Mitzvah student told me that her father meditates every morning, and that she is curious about Buddhism. As part of her exploration of her Torah Portion, toward her Dvar Torah, or Bat Mitzvah speech, we are now reading together a short text about the Buddha, which related to her portion. With other students the discussion has led us to read Yiddish literature, Freud, Thoreau, Spinoza, Native American sayings, current newspaper articles and more. I am a firm believer that, while there are core tenants the student must know, it is what they are interested in that must be encouraged and explored.

SCJ is non-denominational. It incorporates lessons, methods and ideas coming from all major denominations. While closest in its sensibilities to Reform Judaism, Misha has a history of teaching, studying, and conducting ceremonies in Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Orthodox temples.