Last Things First

Yesterday was bittersweet for me. You see, it was the last day of the school year at Temple Beth Sholom, which means our little congregational school takes a breather until September, then revs up once more. There’s only one thing…I won’t be teaching any more.

And while it was my choice to step back from teaching—handing off my Judaics class in September, and now my Hebrew class and Benai Mitzvah tutoring duties—I will certainly have a lot of time on my hands.

What to do, what to do?

Well, you can count on one thing: I won’t stop learning.

It’s my way, I guess, learn to teach, teach to learn…

And so it was when I started teaching Hebrew in 2005. I felt pretty overwhelmed. I had just had my own Bat Mitzvah the previous year, and there I was, teaching a group of sixth graders how to prepare for theirs. I needed to know more.

I enrolled in on-line graduate studies at Siegal College in Cleveland, Ohio, and spent two years reveling in Hebrew, Talmud, Liturgy and Jewish history. Not only did I become proficient (not fluent, mind you) in Hebrew, but I tasted the many flavors of Jewish learning, and deepened my own appreciation of Jewish Education. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to share what I had learned with my students at TBS.

My own studies enabled me to deepen what they learned about the themes of Jewish prayer as well as the Hebrew they used to express it. I spent a couple of years exploring Torah, the Prophets and Psalms with fifth graders; and delighted all the more in training kids for their Benai Mitzvah.

Then I noticed a change in my energy. It’s not so much fatigue as focus. Maybe this is what being 60 is. Maybe at some level I’m bored with teaching the same subject over and over. Maybe it’s simply time to do, to learn something new.

So here I am, ready and poised to begin again.


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