Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Fourth Conference for Dance Programs in Religious Public Schools

by Dr. Talya Perlstein 

Director of Dance and Movement Track in the College

On Monday, the 3rd of Shvat, 5777 (January 30, 2017) the fourth conference for dance programs in HEMED, the religious public school system, was held at the Elkana Campus. The day was a product of the longstanding partnership between the government’s Administration of Education for the Arts within religious schools and the academic track for dance and movement at Orot Israel College.
Approximately 350 students from dance programs across the entire country participated in the conference, hailing from the Golan, Jerusalem, Tiberias, Givat Washington, Gush Etzion, and other areas. The day’s program was divided into two parts; in the first part, eight lessons in assorted dance styles were simultaneously held at the College, the Elkana Matnas (Community Center), and the Shaare Tikva Matnas. In the second session, all the students and faculty convened in the College auditorium. The speakers included Prof. Yuval Sinai, President of the College; Dr. Nurit Ron, Director of the Division of Arts and Chief Supervisor of Dance in the Ministry of Education; Dr. Talya Perlstein, Director of Dance and Movement Track in Orot Israel College; Mrs. Revital Stern (Zivan), supervisor for Communication and Art studies in the religious public schools; and Mrs. Avital Horesh, national counselor for dance in the religious public schools. In addition, during this segment, groups of students performed dances which they had created in their respective programs, and they had the opportunity to watch a performance by the Angela troupe.
In the context of the conference, program coordinators and faculty from the ulpanot (religious girls’ high schools) participated in a meeting with Dr. Nurit Ron, Mrs. Revital Stern, and Dr. Talya Perlstein. Over the course of the discussion, the coordinators and teachers expressed enthusiasm for the organization and high-level content of the days’ programs, as well as the importance of building a professional community within HEMED.
The conference of school dance programs demonstrates part of HEMED’s educational vision, which values the student’s self-expression by means of the arts as a tool for growth and connecting to the sacred. It gives us great pride that the graduates of the dance program at Orot Israel College stand at the forefront of developing this field within HEMED, serving in a number of key capacities in its implementation: national counsel and guidance for dance in religious education; coordinating programs; and teaching dance in ulpanot and elementary schools.
The participants’ assessment of the conference’s contribution and significance found its expression in the form of a number of letters of thanks. To cite one, Revital Stern, supervisor for Communication and Art studies in the religious schools, wrote, “… This cooperation is so critical for the strengthening and development of the field of dance within religious education…. Since the track of training teachers in movement and dance in Orot College is unique, it is important for the graduates of dance programs in HEMED to see it as a hub for their professional development, with respect to both the artistry of the field and their training as teachers…. Thank you for all you have done for this connection thus far, and for all that will still be done, b’ezrat Hashem.”
In the words of Yael Duchnov, the coordinator of the Zvia school in Kochav Yaakov, “Thank you for opening the doors for masses of girls, who are both dreaming and fulfilling their dreams! There is no question that the successful establishment of new programs which allow professional dance alongside the observance of the values of Torah and Judaism begins with training appropriate teachers, teachers who cultivated with a spirit that allows and strengthens this development. Thank you for the journey that has been, that is, and that will continue….”
Tirtza Ben-Yitzchak, the Principal of the ulpana Haleli in Givat Washington, wrote, “Our students came back [from the conference] ‘in the lights (Orot)!’… It was both meaningful and very productive.”
Heartfelt thanks to the many participants whose pains assured the day’s success.
In the photo from right to left: Shira Shimon, Hadassa Geat, Tzipi Nir, Tirtza Ben-Yitzchak, Talia Sperling, Chana Shukrun, Sarah Orenstein, Rachel Baruch, Elisheva Rosewag, Sharon Kelner, Esther Poltinsky Perianto, Talya Perlstein, Nurit Ron, Shira Martin, Avital Horesh, Revital Stern (Zivan).
Below: Beracha Miriam, Shira Deutsch, Moriah Horowitz, Emunah Cohen, Chani Belsberg, Yael Duchnov.

The 17th Colloquium of Orot Israel College

Rabbi Dr. Yechiel Lash

Colloquium Coordinator

On Wednesday, the 19th of Shvat, 5777 (February 15, 2017) the annual College Colloquium of the College’s lecturers was held at the Elkana Campus.
An assortment of content was offered at the colloquium. During the first session, the participants heard a lecture from Prof. Yuval Sinai, President of the College, on the topic “A modern look at Maimonides’s theory of damages,” the theme of his forthcoming book.
During the second session, the participants were exposed to some of the innovations of the Bet Midrash (Academy) for New Pedagogy, which is taking place this year at the Elkana Campus, with the participation of approximately 20 lectures from the College. The unique methods of teaching and assessment were presented by Mr. Elad Hamiel, Dr. Penina Steinberger, Dr. Yael Segev, and Dr. Haim Elbaum.
During the last session, lectures were given on assorted topics: Dr. Adina Sternberg addressed the topic, “Whoever says that ‘So-and-so sinned’ is in error,” interpretive and educational perspectives on the Rabbinic traditions which exonerate certain Biblical figures of apparent sins; Dr. Yosi Ziv drew a comparison between certain practices of the Ethiopian Beita Yisrael community and the records of the Dead Sea Scrolls; and Dr. Zeev Kaim presented research on the topic of “Drinking alcohol in the company of at-risk adolescents, in contrast to standard adolescents.” One of the notable findings of the latter study was that religious adolescents consume less alcohol than adolescents who are not religious.
As opposed to previous years, b’ezrat Hashem, an additional colloquium is planned for the end of the second semester. We are already looking forward to hear the various lectures and studies which will be presented by College faculty.

Rechovot Campus Ranked Third in a Survey of Interns’ Satisfaction

In a survey of interns and new teachers recently conducted by the Department of Internships and Early Teaching within the Ministry of Education, the Rechovot Campus was ranked third from a field of 36 colleges and universities across the country, with respect to the index of interns’ satisfaction from the College’s internship workshop and seminar.
The survey assessed various parameters among the interns with respect to the usefulness and satisfaction they derived from their internships, their mentorship in the schools in which they were working, and regarding the entire process of their training over the course of their earning their degree.
“We are proud of the College’s achievements, and we will continue to advance and improve the process of mentoring the interns, as well as being a welcome and supportive home, professionally and emotionally, for them,” according to Dr. Zeev Kaim, Internship Program Coordinator, Rechovot Campus.

Freedom, Arvut, and Responsibility

Rabbi Dr. Amir Mashiach
 Chair, Department of Jewish Philosophy

The Nation of Israel is the people of freedom. This freedom engenders responsibility not only for oneself, but also for the spiritual and physical welfare of the other (arvut). So powerful is this notion that the halacha permits the court to compel a person to give charity (Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 256). A person might think that this is an instance of religious coercion, but it should not be seen in a negative light.
What is meant by the Rabbis’ statement, “No one is truly free (ben chorin) other than he who busies himself with the Torah” (Avot 6:2)? Isn’t this simply a deception? What is freedom? After all, the halacha dictates our lives in every respect, to the degree that we are instructed how to lace our shoes and cut our nails! And yet, we are free?
Indeed, it would seem that this is a contradiction, but it is not so. Freedom does not mean lawlessness, rather the yoke that I place upon myself, in accordance with the definition suggested by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, “Not freedom from… rather freedom for....” This means to say that freedom is not that I do whatsoever I please without any responsibilities at all. For instance, I may not drive through a red light or at an excessive speed. That does not mean that I am enslaved. Actually, I am a free citizen, a free person in the State of Israel. The very fact that I accept its laws upon myself demonstrates that I am free.
And so it is with respect to all other examples which are not necessarily determined by the fear of automatic incarceration or prosecution. For instance, the fact that I am vegetarian means that I am a free person who has chosen to impose upon myself the discipline or the values which define certain limits. In this way, I demonstrate my freedom. The decision to accept upon myself a yoke, as in the responsibility to help another, is itself freedom. It is “freedom for something”.
When we speak about freedom, it is incumbent upon us to turn to the thought of psychologist Viktor Frankl, who experienced the horrors of the Holocaust firsthand. Of all places, it was there, within the terrible inferno, that Frankl reached the awareness that “the last of man’s freedoms” is the freedom of the consciousness that the Nazis could never take away. While they were able to do whatever they wanted with his body, including putting him to death at any given moment, they remained unable to take away his freedom (Man’s Search for Meaning).
Frankl argued that there is a strong bond between freedom and responsibility. According to him, they are two sides of the same coin. At the moment that a man assumes freedom, he also accepts upon himself responsibility. Because of this, Frankl suggested that the United States must erect a Statue of Responsibility along its West Coast, to complement the Statue of Liberty which stands along its East Coast (The Unheard Cry for Meaning). He even defines human existence in terms of “being responsible”; man is a “responsible entity” (The Unconscious God).
Frankl speaks more about man’s need to take responsibility for his own life, which is what gives life meaning. However, we would widen the scope of freedom to taking responsibility for others.
The Jew, by virtue of his very existence, is a Statue of Eternity. Internally, he is the Status of Liberty; but through his behavior, he is charged to be a Statue of Responsibility, through his responsibility to tend to the other.

Orot Family Updates:

Mazal tov to:
Racheli (Rubin) Samuels (5760) Mikki (Levy) Goldring (5761), Dana (Baryam) Engelhart (5765) & Melissa (Lousky) Bienenfeld (5766)  upon births of their sons.
Vardit (Safirstein) Berger (5755), Aviva (Potashnick) Gillis (5766),Tali (Wasser) Blatman (5768) upon the births of their daughters.
תזכו לגדלם לתורה, לחופה ולמעשים טובים!
Yael Mordfin (5766) upon her marriage to Jacob Meisler and to Yonati Wagner (5767) upon her marriage to Jared Sues.
שתזכו לבנות בית נאמן בישראל!