Through the Experiential Jewish Education Certificate Program, Hillel professional Elise Loterman shares the Jewish values she aspires to impart through her work in experiential education. The original post can be found here.
Tze U’lmad, translated to mean, “go and learn,” is a central Jewish value that I hope to impart to my learners. At Hillel our target population definitely values education. They are a cohort who has taken the step in their lives to invest time and money in university education. Education is a central focus of their lives.
When contemplating the value of Jewish education, I think back to the famous debate in the Babylonian Talmud where Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarfon question: what is more important, study or action? Rabbi Tarfon’s answer is that action is greater. Rabbi Akiva disagreed and insisted that study is greater. The others agreed with Rabbi Akiva because study leads to action.
It is only through Jewish education that emerging adults will understand the richness and vastness of the Jewish experience. Jewish education is important because it provided me with the basic knowledge to lead a meaningful Jewish life. Every opportunity for me to ask a Jewish question and receive an answer provides a fresh insight into our rich Jewish tradition and an opportunity to add a layer of relevance and understanding.
Throughout the coming year, I will be working with various niche communities throughout Hillel of Greater Toronto. These include a group of art students and a group of film students who might not have a strong Jewish identity. My goal by the end of the year is for these students to understand the value of delving deeper into their rich Jewish tradition. I want them to understand the importance of asking a good Jewish question.
One of my undergraduate professors, Dr. Seymour Epstein shared with us what he calls the challenge of a “Pediatric Judaism.” Many adults do not find Judaism to be relevant because their Jewish education concluded at their Bar or Bat Mitzvahs, or in some cases even earlier. Certainly university students are not interested in learning the same math theories as they did in grade four. So too is the case with Judaism. I hope to expose my learners to Jewish content that is relevant and provides a university level approach and theory for them to chew on and think about Judaism with the same adult mind as their fashion, communication, algebra, and social psychology classes.
Elise Loterman is completing her third year working for Hillel of Greater Toronto, where she hopes to inspire the love of Judaism and passion in others that she has gained through her strong Jewish mentors and role models.