Teenagers have always had to navigate the tricky tension between forming an individual identity and a competing need for social belonging. However, today’s toxic environment of political polarization, demonization of the other, and a global pandemic has pushed this tension into overdrive.
How can we help our high school students meet these challenges?
The Pardes Center for Jewish Educators (PCJE) believes that the integration of Jewish text study with Social Emotional Learning can help equip students with the cognitive, emotional, and interpersonal skills they need to better manage internal and external conflicts.
As such, we have created new materials for high school students called Mahloket Matters: Navigating Inner Challenges and Societal Discord through Jewish Text and Social-Emotional Learning, which harness Jewish texts and Social Emotional Learning skills in an interactive and experiential manner. These materials were inspired by and adapted from the Pardes Mahloket Matters: How to Disagree Constructively project.
The educational materials consist of 3 versatile units that can be used for in-person or distance learning. They can also be integrated in a variety of contexts. For example, a school may choose to incorporate them into its Judaic Studies curriculum, advisory program, debate club, or as a special series leading up to the November 2020 US presidential election.
Each unit comes with a comprehensive educator’s guide, accompanying slides, and student materials. The units address the following essential questions:
- Unit 1 – “Introduction to Mahloket Matters”
- What is the point of interacting with people who disagree with me?
- What distinguishes a mahloket le-shem shamayim from a mahloket lo le-shem shamayim?
- Why do good people sometimes disagree with each other on moral issues?
- Unit 2 – “Showin’ Up”
- What internal, external, and interpersonal conditions are necessary to set the stage for a difficult conversation?
- Unit 3 – “Engaging Productively in Tough Conversations”
- What are some key skills to make a tough conversation also a productive one of growth and understanding?
During this 2020-2021 academic pilot year, the Mahloket Matters: Navigating Inner Challenges and Societal Discord through Jewish Text and Social Emotional Learning materials will be available free of charge for schools that are willing and able to commit to providing comprehensive feedback.
PCJE will provide each pilot school with a digital student survey and a digital educator’s survey to be submitted at the conclusion of each unit. The educator also commits to one phone call with Sefi Kraut at the conclusion of each unit. The purpose of the call is for the educator to share feedback, as well as a brainstorming/consulting opportunity.
To discuss whether your school is an appropriate match to pilot the materials, please contact Sefi Kraut at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sefi Kraut, Director of Education for Mahloket Matters Schools. Sefi taught middle school Tanakh at Yavneh Academy in New Jersey for eight years before moving to Israel in 2013. She went on to teach Judaic Studies to post-high school students in several gap year programs. In 2017, Sefi joined the faculty of the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators (PCJE) where she serves as a mentor for teachers in training and as the Educational Director for the Pardes Mahloket Matters Schools project.
Rebecca Schisler, Mindfulness and Social-Emotional Learning Instructor. Rebecca is a meditation teacher, Jewish educator, and artist. Rebecca is on the retreat teaching faculty of Or Ha Lev Center for Jewish Spirituality & Meditation and Awakened Heart Project. She taught mindfulness and social/emotional learning to children, teachers and families in under-served California schools with Mindful Life Project and has been a lead facilitator and field instructor with Wilderness Torah. Rebecca offers mindfulness coaching and consultation to individuals, youth & families, and organizations. Learn more at www.rebeccaschisler.com.
If you have been accepted as a pilot school, please input the passcode that you received from Sefi to download the various materials for each unit.
The Pardes Center for Jewish Educators trains and empowers experiential educators, day school teachers and adult educators to serve as knowledgeable, skilled, reflective and passionate professionals for the Jewish world.
In Jerusalem, the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators offers the pre-service Pardes Day School Educators Program (degree or certificate options) and the Pardes Experiential Educators Program (degree or certificate options), integrating Jewish text study, educator training, Israel education and personal and professional development within the open, inclusive learning community of Pardes.
The Pardes Center for Jewish Educators also provides in-service training programs, in-service support, professional development and curricular programming.
Graduates of the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators teach and inspire youth and young adults in Jewish day schools, Hillels, synagogues, camps, environmental education venues and experiential settings in communities across North America.