Jewish Education Can Create Change
When young children walk into their classrooms, the first thing many of their teachers ask them is, “how are you feeling today?” This pedagogic tool was developed because the social and emotional well-being of students is critical to creating positive learning experiences. While the response of each student is important, even more so is simply the creation of space for each student to reflect and to take stock of how they feel.
And so, my friends, I ask you, how are you feeling today? Waking up after weeks of “sheltering at home.” My response - Exhausted. And then waking up last week to the news of George Floyd’s murder. My response – Enraged. And as days go by…angry, confused, guilty, depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, cautious. I desperately want to feel hopeful.
As an educator I know one vital response to the systemic racism in American society. In the words of South African freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela, “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
The Jewish Education Project is pained by and mourns the death of George Floyd, stands together with all victims of discrimination, unequivocally condemns all forms of prejudice, and proudly asserts that for Jewish education to be deemed effective and relevant, it must strive to make this world a better place. Permit me to invoke the words of Israel’s iconic song writer, Arik Einstein, that together, with your support, “you and I can change the world” – and this world of ours certainly needs a lot of changing right about now.
The Jewish Education Project works to be a part of this change, and we’ve compiled a set of resources that educators can use to address the topic of race with their students. These resources will help facilitate meaningful conversations about race and about actions one can take to make a difference.
I also hope you join me for a very timely Adapting LiveCast on Wednesday, June 10 at 2-3PM EDT which will be a Conversation about Race and Racism in Jewish Education. Our guest will be Yoshi Silverstein, founder and executive director of the Mitsui Collective. Yoshi is a leading voice in the field, and will share his perspective on Jews of Color and race in our community.
I hope you’ll join us for this important conversation, and that we’ll continue working together to address systemic challenges by creating systemic change.
David Bryfman is the CEO of The Jewish Education Project.