Living History

April 13, 2018

Dear Beit Rabban Community,

Living history is in full force at Beit Rabban. We worked before Pesach to step into our ancestors shoes as per the directive that "in every generation each Jew is obligated to see themself as if they left Egypt": reenacting the Exodus from Egypt in full costume, empathizing with Hebrew slaves through creative writing, and exploring what it means for people today to live under oppression. Upon returning from Pesach break this week, we jumped right back into what has been called the Jewish "Memory Season" by studying and commemorating Yom Hashoah in older grades and preparing for Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Hazikaron in all grades. 

Schools teach history for many reasons, one primary one is to build civic-minded citizens. Studying Jewish history and stories from our past helps children understand themselves as part of a larger people. We believe this understanding should also advance a sense of responsibility to the Jewish people and a sense of responsibility to the larger world because we are part of the Jewish people. Achieving this level of impact requires a highly experiential approach to learning in younger grades and also requires a commitment to asking why, all the time. Why am I learning this? Why is this important in my own life? Why is it important that I learn this together with my peers? We even have to ask "why did this happen"? These sort of why questions are never easily answered, and these questions are how we make meaning from our learning, how our history shapes our present identity and our future choices. We strive for this in every Beit Rabban classroom- personalizing learning and using it to grow responsible and committed Jewish citizens of the world. 

This period of the Jewish calendar provides so many rich hooks for our approach to learning and growth and is a wonderful example of the power of an immersive Jewish education. I am especially grateful to work at Beit Rabban during this Jewish Memory Season, and we are all acutely aware of the delicate and deep responsibilities it demands of us.

Wishing all a restful and rejuvenating Shabbat,
Stephanie