Letters to the editor: July 22

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Anyone can be a teacher

I want to thank you for the article in your July 8 issue, “Synagogues face religious school teacher shortage.” I was largely energized to enter the Jewish education profession because I had a dreary experience of “Hebrew school” education as a child. My daydreaming was me at the front of the room teaching the class, making the learning fun and interesting. As an adult, I believed I could create a synagogue school environment that children would find exciting, engaging and fulfilling.


A significant obstacle our programs face is recruiting teachers, a condition that adversely influences the quality of our programs. If your article has any effect, I hope it would be to get people to recognize that the teacher pool is shallow and to encourage folks to dive into that pool. Who is that religious school teacher? Ideally, it is someone with a love of children, an engaging personality, Jewish knowledge and teaching skills. These last two items are somewhat negotiable. Education directors or mentor teachers can coach the subject learning, the skills of classroom management and lesson planning. The verse that comes after Shema in the siddur and the Torah, “Hear, O Israel: Adonai is our God” is “And you shall teach these words to your children” (Devarim 6:7). This means that anyone and everyone has the capacity to contribute to this effort. A favorite verse of mine says, “Yours is not to complete the task, but neither are you free to desist from it” (Pirkei Avot 2:21).

Your next step is easy, contact a local religious school education director and ask them if they are looking for teachers. You have about a 75% chance of getting a “Yes” answer.


Louis Nagel, Education Director,

Beth Shalom Congregation in Columbia

 

Too far to the right

I have subscribed to the Baltimore Jewish Times for quite a while. However, just recently I have felt that your articles, letters to the editor and opinion pieces, such as “A Supreme win for school choice” (July 1), have moved from the center to the right.

I know, you have a tough job. It is difficult to deal with the multiplicity of opinion in the Jewish community in any place. After all, we are a loquacious and disputational people.

So this publication has great responsibilities ahead: It is obvious to me that democracy is on the line here. Everyone has his own opinions, but some opinions have greater saliences than others. As I see it, this publication must act as a filter in order for bad opinions to never see the light of day.

Joe Marcus

Baltimore

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