This is my first year teaching not only this program, but also in religious school. I love the Jewish Lens for all the reasons that everyone has already mentioned and my students really enjoy the lessons. I keep wishing I had a curriculum like this when I was a student! As a teacher, it is so helpful to have in depth, well thought out, and well planned lessons. It has been a blessing to teach with this curriculum.
The Jewish Lens Curriculum has been a powerful tool for engages both teenagers and adults. I have used the curriculum with three different groups over thee past two years. In each group, participants have embraced the opportunities for self expression that the curriculum provides. They love taking photographs and sharing them with the group and the community. The process of taking, critiquing and ultimately displaying their photographs has given them a unique means with which to explore their own Jewish identity and values. This exploration takes place not only on an intellectual level, as it might if we were doing strictly text study, but also on an emotional level as well. As a result, the process of study, creation and exhibition has had a profound impact on the students; far more then I would expect in a more conventional educational setting. If the new imperative in Jewish education is to educate the "whole person"--the Jewish Lens Curriculum has been for our students a great example of how important and effective this approach can be.
I am constantly amazed and impressed by the work/thoughts/discussions the Jewish Lens curriculum fosters within my classroom. The photographs are thought provoking, and the students love the opportunity to express themselves and their Jewish values through photography. I find that this curriculum allows for differentiation and can be used in so many different contexts. We have used it to bridge connections to our Synagogue's teens and other generations in the temple community, as well as allowed for them to build new ideas about their own Jewish identity. The work that I did with the Bridge program in Israel was inspiring, and allowed for me to build new ideas about my own values and beliefs. Zion and Karen are such a pleasure to work with, and I owe them so many thanks for the opportunities they have presented to me and my students! TJL curriculum would be an asset to any school.
The Jewish Lens has given my Hebrew school students a chance to recreate the curriculum of values and Israel in a visceral way. Putting the students behind the camera has unlocked their creativity and sharpened their critical thinking skills. An assignment about the Jewish response to the environment brought in photos of plastic bags strangling bushes, the Gulf oil spill, global warming, organic farming and water conservation. I feel like I have opened a door and SURPRISE! entered into a new dimension of Jewish education. My thanks to Zion Ozeri for his outstanding photo and text based curriculum, Alisha Goodman, Executive Director TJL and Karen Jarmon, Education Director,TJL for their amazing energy, organization and encouragement.
I'm inspired by how The Jewish Lens creates programs that foster Jewish identity and Peoplehood. Not only is the curriculum progressive, but it also teaches students important skills such as visual literacy and analysis.
Rabbi Leor Sinai is the kind of leader needed at any organization - energetic, honest, ethical, hard working, and a great leader - and he makes this organization unique.
My experience is more with the great work being done by the Jewish Lens' new executive director Leor Sinai. I've had the pleasure in sharing in Leor's vision for many years. It is a pleasure to share in the vision of a man like Leor who dedicates tirelessly to furthering our ties as Jews, through education and awareness. The Jewish Lens is a perfect forum for Leor to work his magic.
The Jewish Lens has created ground-breaking curricula applicable to all educational settings we find in the Jewish community today: Day Schools, Synagogue Schools, Camps, Youth Groups, and the Israel Experience. Through active engagement and participation, The Jewish Lens’ seeks to inspire Jews in the United States, Israel, and wherever Jewish life exists. Our initiative provides participants with an opportunity to learn, engage, and challenge Jewish identity, values, and communal responsibility. Traditional education systems in the classroom rely on the mimetic or imitative approach to teaching, the teacher speaks to the class while students are expected to pay attention and absorb the text based information presented to them. In fact the Torah, Rabbinical literature , Medieval Jewish poetry and Yiddish folklore, consistently utilize the arts and tap into the imagination to help paint illustrations reflecting Jewish ethics, ancestral connectivity, and a purpose driven life for all. Yet for some reason, with the advent of the modern day “Jewish Day Schools” in North America, the experientially colorful lessons in education were put to the side. The Jewish Lens has changed all that and is making a huge impact in the lives of young Jews from Beverly Hills to Afula.