Thursday, May 31, 2012

Coffee with Yehudit..its not Israel Education anymore

Yehudit with her beautiful slight Israeli accent and perfect English although her native language is Spanish sips coffee. Subject today: Israel Education has to go. And instead what? Bediyuk.

Yehudit and I began our conversation at HUC in New York where she completed her MA in Jewish Education.  In her position at the URJ she brings professional development around Israel to camp directors and camp educators. She supports  the personal and professional relationships between Israeli and American educators.

In our work she has seen success and frustration. Mamash.
Frustration led to revelation that now needs to lead to revolution.

She sees that Israel exists in a silo from Jewish Education.
It was frequently out sourced as a subject to Israelis.Nachon.
It was not nuanced or sophisticated. Israel of 2012 has many subcultures and narratives, but education does not reflect the multi dimensional entity.
Israel was a "subject matter." Something to be learned about.not internalized or something that helps us grow or transform how we know ourselves and act in the world. People are afraid to lose the content that they feel that needs to be learned. The content is not the issue , its centrality in the educational process is. .

As Jews we have to act on our beliefs, not just know them.

Therefore she said:
1) No more Israel Education
2) No more Jewish Education with Israel as a component

In its place here is another frame on engaging with Israel.
Yehudit draws from a moment when she studied Don Quixote and political thought.
Headlines: Don Quixote spends his journey trying to re-write his story..and when he realizes that someone else has written his story..he dies.

So not to die, but to live fully, we must write our own stories.
This is true of our greater human story. This is true of our story connected to Israel. To Judaism.
How do we help our young people know they CAN write their own story? How do connect them to the resources and experiences that will enable them to write rich and compelling stories?

Yehudit's plan.
Work with educators to self author their own story connected to Israel.
More clearly define the process of Self Authoring..
we have three essential questions:

1)  How do you understand your past?
2) Who are you now?
3) Where are you going in the future.
 When Jewish educators have the opportunity to self author their story in relationship to Israel two things emerge that are essential:
1) they stand as an authentic story of what it means to be in relationship to Israel (the good, the bad, the ugly and the emergent). Our stories add to the text of our people. This is Jewish Pedagogy. Creating our pages of Talmud around Israel. This is the diversity of truth. None of us own the "right" story, but all of us enrich one another's stories and journey for the future when in conversation and relationship. The idea is ,my story is not yours, I don't teach my story as the right one..but as and educator I learn a method of helping you write your own story.

2) Educators experience  a protocol/ a generative process of how to engage young people in their own self authoring. This is more than education..this is the process of becoming more human..that is our work.

 The call  to action emerges..if this is my past, my present..then what this process should lead to? What am I doing to enrich/change my story to Israel. and What is my role in shaping the future of Israel. (what is the past of Israel, what is Israel now, what is the future of Israel).

This is a path to relationship. You don't write your story alone.
This is a path to a better tomorrow. You don't write your story as a narcissistic exercise. A higher purpose calls. Bediyuk.