AVI CHAI concluded its general grant making on December 31, 2019.

Jews Stand For Light in the Darkness

Posted by: Deborah Fishman

November 27, 2013

This piece introduces our 2013 Chanukah blog series. You can contribute to the conversation by describing your educational practice which lights “Jewish sparks” in the form below.
On this blog last Chanukah, Yossi Prager, AVI CHAI’s North American Executive Director, shared a powerful idea:
“Jews stand for light in the darkness, and every Jew can rekindle the flame of another.”
The striking image of light in the darkness is emblematic not only of Chanukah’s rituals, but also of its meaning. At AVI CHAI, we focus on Jewish education for transmitting the values of Jewish literacy, religious purposefulness, and peoplehood through the vehicles of day school and summer camps. Yossi’s comment made us wonder: What meaning could the idea of the “festival of lights” bring to our work and the work of day schools and camps across North America? As we began to solicit thoughts from educational leaders on this this topic, Flora Yavelberg, Judaic Studies Chair at Golda Och Academy in West Orange, NJ, posed the following question:
“This week we begin the celebration of Chanukah, Hag Ha-Urim – the Festival of Lights. Light has many associations for us. Light is the first thing created in Genesis 1, the opposite of darkness. We say when we learn something new or understand something that we are enlightened, and no longer “in the dark.” On Chanukah, light represents joy, religious freedom, the miracle of faith, and Jewish hopes rekindled. What is our part in this story today? How can we, as educators in Jewish day schools, kindle the light of passion and motivation for our students? What can we do to help our students reach a deep understanding of the place Judaism has in their lives, and a sense of accomplishment at having made that meaning for themselves?”
Over the next eight days, we will be sharing with you reflections “sparked” by Yossi’s comments and the concept of Chanukah’s lights and its relevance to our respondents’ perspectives and work.
In the meantime, we invite you to join the conversation by sharing how your school, camp, or other educational setting addresses the important questions Flora raises above. What are some educational practices you have adopted or seen from which we all could learn? Please respond via the form below or in the comments section. We will compile all of your answers and post them here at the conclusion of Chanukah. Consider it our attempt to keep the flames burning long after the eight nights of lights have come to an end. Wishing you a joyous and light-filled Chanukah!

WordPress Video Lightbox