Next week Rashi will be hosting a group of students who are participating in the Reform Day School Externship, a joint program of HUC-JIR, URJ (Union for Reform Judaism) and PARDES: Day Schools of Reform Judaism. See Rashi to Host Reform Jewish Externship blog post.
An important goal for these future rabbis, cantors and educators is to understand the importance of Day Schools in Reform Judaism. Here is a glimpse of what two of the externs hope to learn during the coming week.
As a student on the brink of the professional world, I understand that there is more than one doorway into Judaism. It is my mission as a cantor to be an open door for those in my synagogue and surrounding community. It is apparent that many Jewish day schools serve as the primary center of Jewish life for families. How can clergy be a presence in those places that exist outside of the traditional synagogue setting? How can we be a meaningful, supporting presence in those surrounding Jewish communities, such as Jewish day schools? How can synagogues and day schools learn from each other and work together diplomatically to build relationships and community at large?
As I explored the Rashi school website, I opened up a kindergarten greeting video and heard a chorus of voices singing modeh ani. I watched a skit discussing becoming bar mitzvah, I read stories of eighth grade students connecting to their elders, maturing and growing as young adults. In each activity I saw or post I read, I saw Jewish engagement, Jewish knowledge, and Jewish values.
This externship will enable me to forge new dialogue, which I can carry back with me, to extend to those schools around my future synagogue, to hopefully work towards building a strong greater Jewish community. It will allow me as a future clergy person to be an open door, not only to those in my immediate community, but to those at large as well.
As a child, I attended a Jewish day school where, for the first time in my lif,e I was surrounded by Jewish peers, exposed to Jewish subjects on a serious level and introduced to various types of Jewish traditions. Through this experience I developed a deep love for Judaism and a passion for Hebrew. Most importantly, I found my personal Jewish identity and I found myself.
As a future rabbi, I envision lifelong learning as a central component of my rabbinate. I yearn to learn more about the theory and application of curriculum within Jewish day schools and how the institutions are able to so successfully create a natural Jewish community within the student population. Further, I am interested in learning how to implement the strengths of the Jewish day school into the supplemental school model of the synagogue. Through this externship, I will have the opportunity to experience the Jewish day school from an adult perspective and gain a better understanding of the workings and intricacies associated with the realm of day school education.