Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?
Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile

Advanced

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

October 17, 2018 06:44PM
Moshe Simkovich’s blog posting, “Should Tova Mirvis’ Memoir of Leaving Orthodoxy (The Book of Separation) Be Taught in Yeshiva High Schools?” makes many points with which I agree, although I don’t think that the focus should be on any particular book, including this one. Choosing which books to use in any given course should be the prerogative of the curricular designer and faculty in a specific school, and the process should be one that is “ground up” rather than “top down.” In my view, the fundamental curricular question is: to what extent should there be courses/presentations/Yemai Iyun, etc. during the course of a Yeshiva High School education that deal with existential questions of religious identity and commitment, independent of a specific book or text?

On the one hand, must has been written concerning the comparative immaturity of contemporary students when compared with students of the same age in the not too distant past, suggesting that relatively sophisticated, nuanced topics such as one’s relationship to God and a cost-benefit analysis of maintaining religious observance, may not be properly appreciated by the members of current student bodies. But on the other, Jewish high school might offer the last unmitigated opportunity to raise and sincerely grapple with such matters in a controlled environment with adults who ought to be supportive of a religious outlook. I have found that even those who study for one or two years in Israel, are not presented with these topics, at least formally, and I feel that enrolling in YU or Touro will also not offer for the most part formal classroom time to explore the vectors that will be influential in how one is to live the rest of his/her life vis-à-vis Judaism. Therefore, it is possibly our last opportunity to immerse our students in these matters is within a day school context, and we can only hope to do so in a manner that will make these experiences memorable well-past their high school days.

During my time teaching in Manhattan at a Yeshiva high school, I presented such a course for several years to the entire Junior class. (For an outline of the course, see [lookstein.org] For a recommended summer reading list see [www.lookstein.org] ) It was multi-media and inter-disciplinary, marked with extensive readings, watching films, listening to recordings, etc. The course was followed up by an elective for Seniors: “The Sociology and Psychology of Religious Observance.” And like R. Simkovich, authors that the students were required to read, were invited to make presentations to the entire high school, e.g., Paul and Rachel Cowan, Anne Roiphe, Cynthia Ozick, etc. Former students tell me to this day that they recall many of the readings, class discussions and author presentations.

With respect to the question of God’s Involvement in Jewish observance, I have recorded in a number of venues my opposition to the entire approach represented by “Social Orthodoxy.” In general, I think that religious faith should be a regular feature of both curricular- and extra-curricular experiences. While esoteric topics are difficult to engage in, I believe that despite such concerns, students must be encouraged to have real, ongoing relationships with God.

Finally, the concern that R. Simkovich raises at the end of his essay re faculty members who could teach such courses, is very real and relevant. It is my view that unless a teacher can deeply empathize with the totality of his/her student’s experiences, it will be difficult for such an instructor to be deemed authoritative by the student for guidance and insight into life’s challenges and realities. This does not mean that I think that a Tora teacher has to be “off the Derech” even if some of his/her students are; but the individual has to be conversant with and respectful of the culture and material world of the members of his classes so that he can “speak their language” and thereby gain their attention. Needless to say, such faculty members are hard to come by, bringing into question whether even if such a course were to be presented, would the students do little more than learn whatever is required to earn a good grade. How one lives one’s life is something that transcends the relatively trivial question of a grade on schoolwork.

Yaakov Bieler



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/17/2018 06:46PM by mlb.
Subject Author Posted

Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Moshe Simkovich October 17, 2018 06:18PM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Yaakov Bieler October 17, 2018 06:44PM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Elisha Paul October 17, 2018 06:57PM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Pesach Sommer October 18, 2018 03:14PM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Meshulam Gotlieb October 20, 2018 07:58PM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Jonathan Kroll October 23, 2018 11:26AM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Yosef Goldberg October 23, 2018 11:39AM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Russell Jay Hendel October 30, 2018 08:03AM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Michael Berkowitz November 06, 2018 01:54PM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Yitzchak Blau November 13, 2018 08:53AM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Michael Berkowitz November 25, 2018 07:45PM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Yitzchak Blau December 05, 2018 08:05AM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Michael Berkowitz December 09, 2018 06:19PM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Rose Landowne November 06, 2018 07:52AM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Gideon Sylvester November 12, 2018 09:22AM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Moshe Simkovich December 09, 2018 06:23PM



Author:

Your Email:


Subject:


Spam prevention:
Please, enter the code that you see below in the input field. This is for blocking bots that try to post this form automatically. If the code is hard to read, then just try to guess it right. If you enter the wrong code, a new image is created and you get another chance to enter it right.
Message:
This is a moderated forum. Your message will remain hidden until it has been approved by a moderator or administrator