Below is a collection of lesson plans, classroom resources, and articles created by The Lookstein Center staff or contributed to the site by Jewish educators on Jewish Spirituality.
Jewish spirituality can take many different forms, and its definition and meaning have evolved tremendously throughout time. When one thinks of “Jewish spirituality,” it can refer to the way in which Jewish people connect to Judaism and to a higher being, or to the study of the Zohar or Hasidic works. Spirituality may seem like something outside of the scope of a standard Jewish Studies classroom for a variety of reasons, including the difficulty of teaching seemingly esoteric concepts, differing approaches, and more. However, incorporating aspects of spirituality into Jewish classrooms can be greatly beneficial for students, infusing their Jewish knowledge with meaning and deeper levels of understanding and personal connection. It is our hope that the resources below help enhance your Jewish Studies teaching in the K-12 classroom.
PERSPECTIVES ON JEWISH SPIRITUALITY
Cultivating Jewish Spirituality – This Spring 2023 issue of The Lookstein Center’s journal, Jewish Educational Leadership, addresses Jewish spirituality from a variety of vantage points.
Spirituality: An Introduction – This article from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks provides an overview of approaches toward Jewish spirituality.
Covenant and Conversation: Spirituality – This collection of essays from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks connects themes from the weekly parasha to Jewish spirituality.
Abraham Joshua Heschel and Spiritual Education – This article from the Schechter Institutes examines Abraham Joshua Heschel’s perspective on the role of spirituality in education.
Spirituality: The Essence of Jewish Education – This episode of The Jewish Education Project’s Adapting Podcast explores why understanding spirituality is critical for Jewish educators.
Soulful Education: Why Imparting Knowledge is Not Enough – This book by Aryeh Ben David guides teachers in adding lessons in spirituality to their pedagogical practice.
Jewish Spirituality and Divine Law – This issue of Yeshiva University’s Orthodox Forum Series shares a variety of perspectives on spirituality’s place in Jewish life.
EXPLORING JEWISH SPIRITUALITY BLOG SERIES
*Note: This is an ongoing series – check back for updates and additional content.
Pulling Back from the Trees and Looking at the Forest: Making Torah Meaningful to Students’ Lived Lives – This blog post by Pesach Sommer analyzes why day school students may choose, even temporarily, to not remain part of the Jewish community.
Why Do We Teach – And Not Teach – What We Do in Jewish Schools? – This blog post by Leah Herzog reviews the choices we make in our Jewish school curricula and how these choices affect our students.
Making Room for Wonder, Curiosity, and Mystery – This blog post by Rabbi Lee Buckman analyzes the importance of validating students’ questions, interests, and curiosities, as well as creating a context to discuss them.
BACKGROUND OF JEWISH SPIRITUALITY AND SPIRITUAL TEXTS
Kabbalah and Mysticism 101 and Hasidic Movement: A History from My Jewish Learning provide a beginner’s introduction to the world of Jewish mysticism.
The Origins of Kabbalah – This book excerpt featured in the Jewish Chronicle reviews the basics of Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah.
The Evolution of Kabbalah on the way Kabbalah has changed over time and The Road to Hasidic Resistance on the impact of the Alter Rebbe on Jewish history and Hasidism are from the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute.
How Did Kabbalah Begin? – This introductory video from BimBam explores the history of Kabbalah.
What is Kabbalah? – This article from Reform Judaism provides an overview of Kabbalah and mystical practices
What is Kabbalah? – This article from Chabad explores the role of Kabbalah as the teaching of an all-important secret.
Kabbalah: An Overview and Hasidim and Mitnagdim from Jewish Virtual Libray review the historical sources for the Kabbalistic, Hasidic, and Misnadgic movements.
The Origins of Hasidic Judaism – This video from Unpacked tells the story of the Baal Shem Tov and how Hasidism was born.
Hasidism: Teachings and Literature – This article from the YIVO Encyclopedia defines important terms and philosophies within Hasidic thought.
Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism – This article from Mechon Mamre explores the often misunderstood nature of Kabbalah.
TEACHING JEWISH SPIRITUALITY
Spirituality and Tefillah
Tefillah – This Fall 2017 issue of The Lookstein Center’s journal, Jewish Educational Leadership, shares multiple perspectives on the role of prayer in Jewish life and education.
Bringing Elementary Tefillah to Life – This blog post by Eric Golombek for The Lookstein Center analyzes elementary students’ relationship with prayer and how to improve it.
Commitment and Recommitment to Tefillah – This discussion thread started by Karen Miller Jackson discusses ways to make the tefillah experience meaningful for students.
Helping Students Find Their Own Voice in Tefillah – This article by Jay Goldmintz provides a framework for teachers to help guide their students in connecting personally to tefillah.
Prayer as Spiritual Practice – This article from My Jewish Learning discusses the role of prayer in living a spiritual life.
A Journey to the Land of Prayer – This article by Rabbi Dov Singer includes “recipes” to awaken the soul and find spiritual connections to prayer.
Prayer as Transformation – This article by James Jacobson-Maisels discusses the idea of using self-reflection in order to teach and practice prayer.
Deepening Spiritual Awareness: A Work in Progress – This article by Tamar Rubin for HaYidion makes the case for a deeper educational connection between Jewish studies and tefillah.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Introduction to Jewish Meditation – This audiobook version of Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s well-known work introduces the idea of finding the Jewish connection to meditation and mindfulness practices.
Prayer Meditation Playlist – This video playlist by the Jewish Learning Institute includes guides for meditation as a part of different tefillot.
Meditations Around the Jewish Calendar – This series of meditations from Or HaLev includes videos, podcasts, and chanting.
Kevah and Kavanah – This lesson plan by Harold Bell for middle and high school students reviews mishnayot that focus on the topics of kevah (permanence) and kavanah (intention).
Tefillah Resource Database – These resources from Pardes, by educators for educators, are divided by grade and topic.
Educator’s Toolbox – These educational resources from Ayeka include videos, curriculum, and more for including spirituality in Jewish education throughout the year.
Suggested Format for Chabura Learning – This resource from Lifnai V’lifnim provides a learning format for chabura study as a means toward deeper connections.
Introduction to Kabbalah – This source sheet from Sefaria uses various Jewish texts to provide context for the role of Kabbalah in Jewish life.
Kabbalistic Lessons and the Parasha – These source sheets from Rabbi Eliyahu Jian include videos and connect the weekly parasha with different kabbalistic teachings.
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