Showing posts from May, 2024

Diary of a Crisis Jewish Educator

  Diary of a crisis educator Back in 2020, we thought that our ability to pivot from in-person to virtual was a turning point in our careers in which people would recognize the value of educators. We adapted lessons, restructured curriculums, and served as the unofficial support systems for our students who were struggling with the inevitable isolation of the pandemic. We showed up with a smile on our faces and held space for our students to have access to a semblance of normalcy. There was this moment, around 3 days before October 7, 2023, when I thought we were finally back to normal life. I was recording an Instagram Reel with my class which, as it happens, includes my own son. It was about Simchat Torah and as luck would have it, it would be my very first time in front of an open Torah scroll and I would get to share this with the kids! Yes, I am a Bnei Mitzvah tutor, but was also raised very conservative (I know, shocking), so while I can read and chant Torah, I had not crossed th

Tattoos: Reclaiming Ourselves

  “I was told that you could not get tattoos if you were Jewish, that you cannot be buried in a Jewish cemetery if you have them”. I found myself slowly lowering the sleeves of my shirt to cover my own in what felt like an educational failure. There I was, standing in a room of students, discussing the holocaust and the tattoos on survivors arms, while displaying my own. There we were, explaining how these tattoos were used to dehumanize people and strip them from their name and identity, while I had multiple tattoos that I had willingly acquired myself. Oh, the irony and deep shame. We gave the students the now blanket answer to their question: this law (while much more complex than stated) was written prior to the holocaust, so a lot has changed since then. And it's true, each Jewish movement has developed its own stance for tattoos. To understand this first, though, we have to go back to Leviticus 19:28, which says “ You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incis